This is part two of a weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Find something good and something bad against the Patriots here.
The brutal physical beating on Patrick Mahomes this season continued in Foxborough with yet another injury to the league MVP — this time to his throwing hand.
It’s been a season hamstrung by just about everything but Mahomes’ hamstrings (knock on wood). A long-lasting ankle sprain, a dislocated kneecap and now another injury has kept the best quarterback in the league from being able to do the things we’ve come to expect.
There has been a lot of adversity for the third-year QB to overcome, and it feels like we’ve been deprived of what assuredly would have been another special season.
The injuries have created some inconsistencies we’re not accustomed to seeing from the quarterback. There is still time to get things right, but it needs to happen fast. The injuries are not helping that, especially now that the throwing hand is suffering. There were clear signs that it was likely affecting him, combined with some of the other things he’s shown to struggle with since returning quickly from a dislocated kneecap.
Amidst all this, he was still able to remind people of the special things he’s capable of doing.
This was a special throw from Mahomes on a 3rd and 19. Dealing with the injured hand, but still delivers one of his better throws of the season with pressure closing on a critical down. Excellent placement on the deep dig to Hill to extend the drive. pic.twitter.com/gvrXYZ1tde— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 10, 2019
This is a post-injury throw and one of the true gems of not only the game but also the season. A reminder to all of us that no down and distance is out of reach with a player of the caliber of Mahomes.
New England is playing 2-man coverage. The Chiefs run Tyreek Hill on a deep dig just past the line to gain. Mecole Hardman runs a vertical to clear the deep half safety, giving a window to throw to Hill.
Mahomes drops deep as he waits for Hill to break on the dig. Linebacker Shea McLellin comes late to pressure as Mahomes is delivering the ball, but he hangs tough and drives a pass with velocity and excellent placement to Hill past the sticks for a first down. The Chiefs would follow that up with a touchdown a few plays later on the play to Hardman.
Unfortunately, there are things showing up still that are a little concerning — like this missed opportunity:
Missed opportunity here by Mahomes. Looks like mesh out of a condense formation until Kelce and Robinson run whips. Hill open on post behind it. Should've given him a chance but kept drifting back. Probably should've stepped up. pic.twitter.com/cQ0uflOGbv— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 11, 2019
This is another third down as the clock is winding down on the first half. Facing third-and-3, the Chiefs line up in a condensed formation they’ve favored the last few years. It looks like they’re running mesh, an Air-Raid staple with shallow crossing routes but are running a counter off it.
Travis Kelce and Demarcus Robinson — both lined up on the line of scrimmage — are going to run whip routes selling crossers, sticking their foot in the ground and breaking outside. Hill — lined up off the line of scrimmage — runs a post route behind the mesh look.
Mahomes has space to throw this ball for Hill to run under for a touchdown. He can also give Kelce, Robinson or Spencer Ware a chance out of the backfield. He’s got four of his receivers in the middle of the field — he should be able to read through the concept in front of him to see the void for a touchdown.
The problem is Mahomes starts falling back out of the pocket instead of stepping up inside the tackles. Had he done that, he could have got the ball off for Hill or worked down to give one of his other weapons a chance to get a first down. This missed opportunity didn’t have much to do with the injured hand as much as it did a lack of trust to work from the pocket.
Since the slew of injuries, there have been more inconsistencies in Mahomes’ game with pocket navigation.
This play was another example — a missed opportunity that might be at least partially attributed to the hand injury.
I have to think the hand was giving Mahomes problems later in the game. Travis Kelce against Patrick Chung is a matchup I want to target on 3rd and 9 late in the game. Kelce beats the safety on a double move. Instead he throws short of the sticks and the Chiefs punt. pic.twitter.com/jogEhvMCZO— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 11, 2019
This is the last third down the Chiefs would have in the game before their victory kneel-down. It’s a big third-and-9 with less than six minutes remaining.
They’re lined up in their common Y-Iso formation with Kelce in the boundary and solo in a 3x1 formation. They have a good man ID with safety Patrick Chung lined up on the tight end. Kelce matched up with an older, grumpy safety should be a prime opportunity for Mahomes to give the All-Pro tight end a chance to help close the game out.
Kelce runs a double-move and beats Chung clean down the sideline for what could have been a massive play both in yardage and situationally. Instead, Mahomes plays it safe, throwing short of the sticks to Hill on a crossing route. It makes me wonder if Mahomes was just simply managing the hand injury to where he wasn’t going to try and throw a ball deep down the field. Kelce is very much part of this play, and the matchup was favorable. I think Mahomes simply wanted to play it safe with his ailment and hope that Hill would finish the play. Although the defense bailed them out, this play didn’t help the chances of victory with an obvious matchup available to exploit.
The bottom line
There’s been a lot of adversity this team has had to work through. They probably aren’t in the clear yet, either. Mahomes will be nursing another injury, and we all hope that he doesn’t re-aggravate or worsen it. He’ll have to deal with that and the inconsistencies and bad habits that have started to form, in wake of previous injuries.
He’s still a generational player, and everything is still on the table for this team. There are just more obstacles to be overcome.
Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
We went into further detail on Mahomes’ performance and more on the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.