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Patrick Mahomes against the Raiders: something good and something bad

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In part one of our weekly quarterback review, we see Mahomes flip the switch from quarter to quarter.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The start to the rivalry game against the Las Vegas Oakland Raiders was lethargic for the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense. Uncommon to a Patrick Mahomes-led unit, it looked like a timid team (both play and play-calling) who knew their quarterback was hobbled and were trying to work around it.

The first quarter was ugly. Mahomes was struggling to get in a rhythm and find his stride.

So this week, let’s just start with...

Something bad

Things were off a tick early on in the game. Whether it was Mahomes feeling out his ankle, the offense intent on trying to protect him, the environment in Oakland or all three, it was a rough start.

Mecole Hardman ran a poor route for Mahomes. It was either a bad corner route or a bad out route. I’m guessing bad out route, drifting upfield, not getting flat and friendly to the quarterback, who placed the ball where Hardman should have been. Either way, you’re seeing where Hardman needs to improve his route tree. He looks good on verticals (more on that in second), but everything short of that needs a lot of work.

Mahomes had misses as well, sailing a ball over Sammy Watkins’ head, putting a ball at risk on a deep throw to Watkins and being just off the mark on a vertical shot. It was a slow start, and it looked like Mahomes was playing gingerly on his front leg and throwing more off his back foot. It took an entire quarter to get in rhythm.

Something good

But that second quarter—that magnificent display of offense for the final 15 minutes before half time.

After a few possessions, the energy changed. Mahomes’ energy changed. The first play of the second quarter broke the seal.

The late motion by Damien Williams and timing of the snap caused a coverage breakdown that left Demarcus Robinson unaccounted for down the field. It was a wide open receiver, and slightly underthrown, but the 15 minutes after this throw was a complete flex from Mahomes and the offense.

We even got vintage Mahomes (that didn’t count).

Mahomes mentioned last week he probably should have put eyes late onto Travis Kelce on a no-look attempt in the end zone against Jacksonville. On this play, he does.

Mahomes is looking downfield and away from the defender, but peeks late to Robinson and finds him for a big play that got called back for a hold.

Mahomes has been hobbled for most of the season, but he still utilizes his unique creativity when he needs to.

The injuries have deprived us of seeing the full reveal of what Andy Reid has been doing this entire offseason. We’ve surely had some exposure to the stack of index cards called “Pat Plays,” but without the full compliment of weapons at his disposal, I’m sure some things have been held back.

That’s not entirely a bad thing. Here’s why:

Mecole Hardman stepped in for the injured Tyreek Hill, and he was able to find ways to fill some of the roles Hill has in the past. This experience could help speed up Hardman’s development and make Hill’s return much more terrifying should the Georgia rookie capitalize on this time. The index cards will fly more later in the season.

Nice nod to the flag on the post route by Hardman. Awful coverage by the safety on top of the receiver. Hardman hasn’t had a ton of success before this play. He’d dropped a screen in Jacksonville and drifted on that out route earlier in the game. Getting his confidence up with this score will go a long way in his development. I anticipate we see a jump in his growth this week. He still has an incomplete route tree, but the verticals and behind-the-line of scrimmage touches are enough for him to find success.

The competitive fire for Mahomes really escalated after that first quarter, and it came with a fury. The swagger was evident and the energy was real. We saw some special plays from the kid, but more on that later this week.