This is part two of a weekly film analysis on the performance of Patrick Mahomes. Find something good and something bad against the Texans here.
Watching Chiefs-Texans was an exhausting two-act experience that I’m not sure I’ve completely recovered from. I can’t imagine being a player after the emotional swings of that game. The Chiefs are back to work Wednesday, getting ready for a massive opportunity to hoist the Lamar Hunt Trophy in Arrowhead after missing that chance last season against the Patriots.
While we’re all looking forward to the AFC title game, there’s still plenty to look over in the Divisional round game to help predict what could happen this weekend and what the Chiefs will need to address before that week.
One thing that doesn’t need to be changed in any way, shape or form is Patrick Mahomes. You can’t ask for much more than what he was able to do, leading the comeback from 24-0. The entire game shows some remarkable individual plays that few can replicate.
Here is something smart and something special from Mahomes against the Texans:
There are subtleties to Mahomes’ performance that make you shake your head in disbelief of how aware he is on the football field. This play is a prime example.
Patrick Mahomes really finished the comeback on a play where he had the presence of mind to drag his foot so it was behind the line of scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/CDW4MYKNsC— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 14, 2020
As they did earlier in the game, the Chiefs are trying a sprint out in the red zone, hoping to get Travis Kelce free on a rub play into the flat. Houston sniffed the play out, and were actually playing quarters coverage on this play. The play turns into another second-reaction play, forcing Mahomes to improvise and work out of the structure.
Mahomes is running out of room both laterally and as he’s working toward the line of scrimmage. He’s somehow able to have the presence of mind enough to know that he’s approaching the line while processing through a broken play. He drags his foot to maintain a body part at the line of scrimmage so that he doesn’t get an illegal forward pass penalty. All that needs to be behind the line of scrimmage is a slight fraction of any body part.
It’s one thing to do that, but to actually find Kelce here is absurd. Mahomes, while dragging his foot, running out of real estate, drops a pass to his tight end who smartly starts sliding away from the quarterback as he’s nearing the sideline. These two were on the same page and were able to find a void, similar to what they had done earlier in the comeback. This duo is playing at an exceptional level together right now. The trust and connection was on full display and led to a big performance for both. Hopefully, Kelce will be able to play at a similar level as he toughs out his knee and hamstring issues.
The connection stayed strong in every part of the field.
Things like this is what make this Chiefs offense so special. Zone, man, bracket, etc.. whatever a defense wants to do, even when well called/executed can run into the talent buzz saw of the Chiefs offense.— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) January 14, 2020
- Y-Wrap from Kelce who shouldn't move like this
- Mahomes' anticipation pic.twitter.com/lQqbZcnxkj
People don’t appreciate the mental aspect of Patrick Mahomes’ game quite enough. It’s not just the creative plays when the play breaks down or the unreal arm talent he possesses. He also processes the game at the highest level, especially for so early in his career. Anticipation throws are often a sign of a player processing through plays very quickly. If you’ve seen the coverage correctly, know what your receivers are doing and timing the throw with your receiver choice, you’re getting through information quickly.
The Chiefs are in 21 personnel with an offset I-formation — something we don’t typically see from them. This play-action pass is flowing all receivers into the boundary. Kelce appears to be running an out route but wraps around safety Justin Reid back into the middle of the field. This is either a designed wrap or an adjustment made by both quarterback and tight end. If the latter is true, that makes it all the more impressive.
Regardless, it’s a special play because of the anticipation Mahomes shows. He’s early to get this ball out of his hand before his receiver has cleared the safety. He’s ready to throw a tad earlier (which lends itself to the idea that this play was an adjustment) but knows that he’s got to wait a second for Kelce to start wrapping around his defender. Through the process, Mahomes maintains good pocket integrity and times the throw perfectly for Kelce, who is able to gain a few extra yards after the catch.
Mahomes was playing at an unheard-of level nearly start to finish. If he continues that performance this week against the Titans, he’ll be wearing a hat and T-shirt on a podium Sunday night.
Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
We went into further detail on Mahomes’ performance — and more — in the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.