This is part two of a weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Find something good and something bad against the Broncos here.
Mahomes quickly processed through this play — and it yielded a big result.
Really great throw by Mahomes to Sammy Watkins on the seam on a 3rd and 8. He's ready to throw the seam at the top of his drop. Eyes on snap to Kelce is a look off, Simmons drives on Hill, middle field safety is too tight to the left hash. Up and down ball for a gain of 29. pic.twitter.com/YlHF6e9IIs— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 18, 2019
It’s a third-and-8 in the second quarter. The Kansas City Chiefs are lined up in a 3x1 Y-Iso look with tight end Travis Kelce to Mahomes’ left.
On the snap, Mahomes uses his eyes and shoulders to peek at Kelce. I believe this is purely a look-off and not part of the play’s read; he wants to influence (and hold) coverage to Kelce’s side. From the slot, Tyreek Hill runs a curl route over the ball against the Broncos’ Cover 3 look. Safety Justin Simmons drives on Hill — and in the middle of the field, safety Tre Marshall is tight to the left hash mark. This is not only because of Mahomes’ influence, but also because of where Hill and Kelce are located as they get out on their routes.
Mahomes is probably working Hill and Sammy Watkins as a 1A/1B read where he’s able to process both through the middle of the field. With Simmons driving on the curl by Hill and the safety tight to the opposite hash, he knows he’s got a good window to hit Watkins on the seam.
At the top of his drop, Mahomes delivers a beautiful up-and-down ball to Watkins for a 29-yard gain. In perfect conditions, this play would be impressive. But delivering a precision pass with great timing and touch in the snow? That’s rare.
We were lucky to get some vintage Mahomes on this two-point play.
It was a welcome sight to see some of the vintage creativity out of structure that we're so accustomed to with Mahomes. He was on the same page with Sammy Watkins and threw on the break with the linebacker's back turned to him. pic.twitter.com/Au57qCukIP— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 17, 2019
This is a well-structured play with a lot of answers.
You have an isolated fade on the back side and one of the best tight ends in football working the back line of the end zone behind a curl route over the ball. The late motion on Spencer Ware’s swing route widens out the defense.
The primary read is likely Hill on the hook route, tucked inside the bunch. The Chiefs are hoping he’ll be lost among Watkins’ and Ware’s horizontal stretches — and Kelce’s vertical stretch to the back line. Credit goes to linebacker Todd Davis for sorting through all of that to cover Hill.
With Laurent Duvernay-Tardif allowing quick pressure, Mahomes is forced to go off-script and navigate pressure. He steps up — eventually moving out to his right — peeking back to see who is closing. Mahomes has to stop his rollout to make Von Miller miss but does a great job of keeping his eyes up.
Then he sees linebacker A.J. Johnson trying to cover Watkins — who sticks his foot in the ground and breaks to his left. Notice how Mahomes lifts the ball above his head as he avoids Miller? He goes from that position to making an athletic throw to Watkins on his break. Quarterback and receiver are clearly on the same page.
There are a lot of micro-moments packed into this play — but that’s what happens when the result looks like this; there are many important details in Mahomes’ creativity and brilliance.
This play was phenomenal. Hopefully, we’ll see more like it during the final weeks of the season.
Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
We went into further detail on Mahomes’ performance — and more — in the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.