This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
The performance on Sunday was little more up and down than we’ve seen from Patrick Mahomes so far this season. There were jitters early, brilliance in the second quarter and a few hiccups in the second half.
Despite the nature of the performance, Mahomes still gave us the best play of his young career. Amidst everything, he still rewarded fans with the rarest of plays. The kid showed some places to improve that we’ll talk about tomorrow (possibly the most flawed performance to date), but he was still displaying sharp mental acuity and world-beating talent.
Mahomes is putting in the work in between games. His preparation was on display Sunday.
#SomethingSmart Mahomes gets man coverage ID, changes routes to dart/slot fade, gets ball on Watkins quick enough that he beats LB, letting him break tackles and finish for six. pic.twitter.com/9TXsnp2pmJ— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 25, 2018
The 49ers have both corners lined up over receivers and to the field. Tyreek Hill motioned across the formation and cornerback Akhello Weatherspoon followed him. Those two clues give Mahomes a strong man coverage ID. Mahomes adjusts the routes of the receivers still lined up to the field. Sammy Watkins, lined up outside, is now running a dart route (a 45-degree angle direct line) and Chris Conley a slot fade. That combination can have success against man coverage if Watkins defender has to work through traffic at the likely catch point for the dart.
The 49ers are playing Cover 1: man coverage across the board with rookies Fred Warner playing as an underneath defender and D.J. Reed as a single-high safety. Before the snap, safety Jimmie Ward backs off late in coverage on Sammy Watkins. Mahomes sees the opportunity to hit Watkins underneath the release of Conley. He locks on to Watkins quick, and Warner and Reed follow his eyes in pursuit of the play. Mahomes is able to beat the converging rookie defenders with the throw, allowing Watkins enough time to make both miss before scoring.
Mahomes was prepared to adjust the play and was quick and decisive with the ball, allowing another special talent in Watkins to finish the play for their first touchdown as a pairing.
In what is turning into a disproportionately large list of amazing plays for the amount of snaps Mahomes has played, this stands out among them all.
#SomethingSpecial Fitting that Mahomes' first official touchdown at Arrowhead is, in my opinion, the best play of his young career (and that's saying something). There are so many things we have to discuss about this play in the article. pic.twitter.com/bRBZRHYFyh— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 24, 2018
This was too special not to be something special this week, but this could’ve very easily been something smart as well. Hearing him explain the play makes you appreciate it even more.
“I was getting through my reads, I scrambled to the left and I kind of realized everyone else was on the other side of the field, so I just kind of turned it back around. We worked scramble drills this entire training camp, so those guys kept working for me and I just found Conley in the back of the end zone and he caught it and made a good play.” - Patrick Mahomes on the coolest 4-yard touchdown pass in football history
Mahomes started his scramble to his left, but with his eyes downfield identified that the play was away from him, limiting his ability to find an open receiver. Quickly identifying that he didn’t have much to work with, Mahomes makes a quick course correction back towards more viable options working with him. Very smart. Also, the athleticism to maneuver shouldn’t be overlooked as well.
Quarterbacks make their money on third down and in the red zone. In Mahomes’ career so far, he’s been money. Mahomes sees Conley working the back line of the end zone and delivers a ball with anticipation into tight spaces. Windows close quick in the red zone. If Mahomes doesn’t have the velocity on this throw, it’s intercepted. What’s more is Mahomes delivered the throw in the run.
I have dubbed this the coolest 4-yard touchdown pass in football history. The variables in this play shouldn’t be overlooked. You have it all: quick identification of the issue, athleticism to escape, vision to see Conley, velocity to deliver a ball and throwing on the run—all in the red zone.
BONUS SOMETHING SPECIAL
The decision was iffy here, but the throw shouldn’t be overlooked:
This is such easy arm talent. It doesn't make sense. pic.twitter.com/yiTJLvria7— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 25, 2018
This was a 50-plus-yard rope; these kind of throws don’t grow on trees. Yet another example of the rare arm talent Mahomes possesses.
Speaking of arm talent:
The Chiefs will hit one of these this season. An NFL field is 53 1/3 yards wide. You've got to cover 55 yards against KC. This is a ridiculous throw. pic.twitter.com/DJtC15g2gl— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 24, 2018
The fact that this was even possible is stunning. This throw was 40-plus yards in the air on the run. The Chiefs are going to get one of these this season. Calling it. On a third-and-long, Mahomes works out of structure and almost delivered a lazer for a near toe-tap conversion by Hill.
As Michael Jordan said, the ceiling is the dang roof.