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Why Patrick Mahomes’ weapons are nearly impossible to stop

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The third-year Chiefs quarterback has established each one of them as big-play threats.

Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This is part two of a weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Find something good and something bad against the Raiders here.


Something smart

Small, subtle moves from a quarterback can go a long way in helping a play be successful.

The Chiefs are lined up in a formation with Travis Kelce isolated in the boundary, as they like to do. A late motion by running back Damien Williams brings him into the boundary as well. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) widens a little bit on the motion. This play is designed to hit Williams on the wheel. The Raiders are playing a quarters shell and cornerback Gareon Conley (21) is locked on Kelce, who runs a slant to bring the corner with him and creating space down the sideline.

On the movement of the safeties, Mahomes knows he’s got his matchup with Williams and uses his eyes and shoulders to keep the safety on the hash and getting depth. This is in the third quarter, and the Chiefs have beat the Raiders like a drum vertically to this point.

The safety could be alert to a slant and go (sluggo) by Kelce and stays on top of him. Mahomes was able to confirm quickly enough that he could use his drop to help maintain space down the sideline. Right before delivery, Mahomes puts eyes on Williams and delivers a throws a beautiful up-and-down ball to complete the pass and give Williams an opportunity to run after the catch against an unmatched linebacker. Had he not held that middle-field safety, he might have had a chance to make a play on the ball or make the window tighter.

Something special

I mentioned yesterday how important the Mahomes-to-Mecole Hardman connection was moving forward.

Earl Thomas has plenty of vertical threats to worry about this week.

Last year, Mahomes wasn’t as successful on throws where he would have a receiver run under the ball. A lot of his downfield plays were on deep overs or throws he could still drive. That’s not to say he was completely incapable, but rather it was something the Chiefs missed on a lot. It seems to have been a point of emphasis this offseason because throws like those to Kelce and Hardman are signs of growth.

The touchdown to Kelce is one of my favorite of Mahomes’ career. It’s perfect placement in a big situation. Kelce is isolated and has space to work with in the boundary. Mahomes holds the middle-field safety with his eyes and is late to look and deliver. He lofts an excellent ball over the shoulder of Kelce to run under for a score.

On the touchdown to Demarcus Robinson, Mahomes moves out of the pocket to his left before throwing a beautiful back shoulder through against a trailing corner to score in the same area of the endzone that Kelce does.

The throw to Hardman showed excellent anticipation by Mahomes. He looked a little hobbled and threw the ball off his back foot, but it didn’t matter. The middle-field safety took a step toward the boundary and there was no recovering for him. Hardman was hip to hip with the defensive back, Lamarcus Joyner (29), in coverage and that was enough for Mahomes to know they had space to go over the top.

Mahomes processed this play as quick as you can. The ball was out so early because Hardman ran past Joyner so quick. The results were substantial. Regardless of this play being called back for a hold, the threat has been very much established in the absence of Tyreek Hill.

The Chiefs have created big plays down the field in the passing game this season with Sammy Watkins, Hardman, Kelce, Robinson and Williams. There are so many offensive weapons with an explosive play in the passing game attached to their name in just two games.

Defenses try to take away the things you’ve had success with. Well, everyone has had success so far.