This is part two of a three-part weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Part one here.
Brian Hoyer simulates the opposing QB every week in practice. He said this week the #Patriots defense frustrated his scout-team offense with stops. So did he react like Philip Rivers?— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) January 13, 2019
“I tried to reenact him in every facet. So when I was upset, I made sure I let everybody know.”
If Brian Hoyer is really being tasked with trying to simulate the opposing quarterback, he’s going to have much more on his plate than temper tantrums this week.
As the Patriots saw earlier this year, Patrick Mahomes presents problems both in and out of the pocket. What’s should scare New England, is the rapid improvements he’s made, even since Week 6 of the season. It could prove more difficult to slow him down for a half as they did in Foxboro. Even if they do, Mahomes still has remarkable ability out of the structure of the play to lean on. It was on display against the Colts on Saturday.
Small details can make a big difference.
#SomethingSmart I said it during the game but out of structure, Mahomes is playing chess while others are playing checkers. He wants Kelce but holds the ball and widens to get linebacker Anthony Walker to commit before getting rid of the ball. pic.twitter.com/4VWEUcch5r— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 15, 2019
Mahomes breaks the pocket due to pressure and runs to his right. Travis Kelce is working shallow between the hashes. Linebacker Anthony Walker is close to Kelce as Mahomes begins to escape the pocket. If Mahomes tried to throw the ball too early, Walker would be well positioned to make a play on the ball. Mahomes instead decides to draw attention from Walker. He continues to run and gives a pump-fake as if he’s throwing outside of the numbers. The action widens Walker, and Mahomes comes back to a wide open Kelce for a first down. Smart decision, great execution to create more space.
Another athletic throw back into the middle of the field.
Tyreek Hill motions into a tight bunch formation to the field. The Colts are playing a Cover 2 zone and get pressure on Mahomes quickly. He again rolls to his right to evade the pressure. Hill, who was working short, slides towards a void in the middle of the field rather than work with the scrambling Mahomes. The vision to see this from the young quarterback was excellent. The arm talent to get the ball back into the middle of the field is special. His teammates say it all the time but the play truly is never dead with Mahomes. Being able to throw with enough zip across your body never ceases to amaze.
The best play of the game, though, was this rarity of a 15-yard throw to Kelce.
#SomethingSpecial Creativity, arm talent, anticipation. He had a plan before Kelce cleared Darius Leonard. On the run, around a defensive lineman, sidearm. We're running out of things to say about the kid. Excellent catch by Kelce shouldn't be overlooked. pic.twitter.com/R1lHGlPbmc— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 15, 2019
Kelce is again working short and between the hashes. Front-side pressure forces Mahomes to run up into the pocket. Kelce, anticipating Mahomes’ escape, breaks for space to his left behind All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard. Before Kelce clears Leonard, Mahomes makes the decision to give Kelce a chance. The only problem is Andrew Wylie is directly in front of him. No problem for the league MVP.
As he’s running, Mahomes throws a ball sidearm, around Wylie and a defensive lineman. Kelce clears Leonard and makes a fantastic catch on a throw that somehow found a way to him.
The creativity to find a way to get the ball to Kelce is one thing. Having the athleticism and arm talent to actually execute it is something entirely different. What’s more is he set up to throw this anticipating Kelce clearing Leonard, all while there was a 700 pounds of human being directly in his throwing window. You’re not supposed to be able to do this. This is generational talent.
What was so impressive to me about Mahomes’ performance to me was that he stayed true to what got him to that point. He was still going out and executing highly difficult throws with confidence. He was calm enough not to be reckless but poised enough to still make huge plays that few can make. The tests only get bigger from here, but his performance in the snow should bring confidence for the AFC Championship game.