When you have a rare talent at quarterback, injury scares come with the territory.
Me when Mahomes was in the tent. pic.twitter.com/afH198wsIH— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 9, 2019
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was forced to limp through the second half of a hot, humid, physical battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. You don’t want an injury like that on your ledger so early in the season — and if it happens, you just have to hope your quarterback won’t have to deal with it for the rest of the year.
Injury scares are possibly the only downside of the experience we’re having with Mahomes. It’s something we’ll have to accept for the remainder of what we hope is a very long career.
The injury scare — and the game-ending injury to Tyreek Hill — overshadowed what was a surgical performance for the reigning MVP.
Even before the injury, Mahomes wasn’t being forced to use his improvisational skills all that much. He was dominant from the pocket, finishing the game 25 of 33 for 378 yards and three touchdowns. All but 65 yards (and one of the touchdowns) came in a first half that was sharp — even by Mahomes’ standards. His passing yards output in the first half alone would rank as Alex Smith’s seventh-highest single-game total. It would be eighth on Matt Cassel’s list — and first on Dontari Poe’s.
Like last season, I’ll give you something good and something bad from Mahomes’ performance on Sunday. In a later article, I’ll show you something smart — and something special.
#SomethingGood Mahomes does a great job navigating front-side pressure, steps up and runs with his primary read in Kelce, keeping his eyes up through movement and delivering a perfect ball for a YAC opportunity. pic.twitter.com/Ftwxqvdu9n— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 10, 2019
Let’s start with simpler times — a play before the injury.
As I wrote this preseason, Mahomes looks more workmanlike than he did last year; he hasn’t had to lean on his uncommon abilities and creativity as much. Sunday’s performance was more surgical — and this play is a great example.
The Chiefs are running Travis Kelce underneath vertical routes from the boundary; he’s likely the primary read on this play. Kelce is lined up in a condensed formation to that side and can easily get across the field from there. Mahomes gives a play fake, feels the front side pressure and smartly steps up to the side of the field toward which Kelce is working. Now on the run, he then displays perfect accuracy with a throw over the tight end’s shoulder, which gives Kelce a great opportunity to make yards after the catch.
This is such a poised play from Mahomes. He is showing efficiency with his feet, smart decision-making and high-level execution — even when the play is breaking down. We know that in chaos, he can operate at a high level — and can use his rare talents to get himself out of a jam — but recognizing when he doesn’t have to do it is a skill in and of itself.
Just from the simplicity with which he operates in plays like this, he’s showing continued growth. If it continues, he’ll be able to avoid working in so much chaos — setting himself up for explosive plays (and fewer body blows) without missing out on big opportunities.
This wasn’t one of Mahomes’ best moments.
Andy Reid called a great play utilizing Tyreek Hill on a fake reverse into a sprint-out. On the run, Mahomes does a nice job holding the underneath defender and giving Kelce more space — but the execution stops there. The ball sails on him and it’s uncatchable. The Chiefs have to settle for a field goal.
This is the downside of the no-look pass. Every now and then, it won’t go as planned. This was just one of the plays you have to live with. By no means should he stop utilizing this special skill. You might be able to make the argument that he could’ve put eyes on Kelce late to see where he was throwing, but that would have given up some of the advantage.
Mahomes knows he missed one.
Mahomes certainly wants this one back, but I hope (sorry... I know) he’ll continue to utilize this ability. One mistake isn’t a reason to stop — and so far, the results of Mahomes’ no-look passes have been overwhelmingly positive.