In the finale of our Midseason Awards series, the Arrowhead Pride staff crowns a team MVP — along with an offensive and defensive player of the year — for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
The reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterback swept the votes for the team’s most valuable player.
Mahomes has been as prolific as ever this year — if not more. He’s second in the NFL in both passing yards and passing touchdowns, thrown an interception on the lowest percentage of his pass attempts — and is in the top three in both passer rating and ESPN’s QBR metric.
Mahomes has his blow up games — like the 385 passing yards and five total touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens or the 416 yards and five scores through the air on the New York Jets. Mahomes has also had not-as-flashy games — like the 211 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the season opener, which was a performance that his backup quarterbacks Matt Moore and Chad Henne called “one of the best game he’s played.”
But unlike this season’s other league MVP candidates, Mahomes has yet to have a letdown game riddled with turnovers and negative plays. In the only game the Chiefs lost this season, the defense gave up 40 points and 490 total yards to the Las Vegas Raiders. Mahomes did commit his only turnover of the season late in the fourth quarter — but because of their inability to get off the field, the defense holds most of the the blame for that loss.
Mahomes has been as efficient and effective as ever. Opposing defenses are giving him lots of different looks to try and confuse him — but no matter what he’s seen, he’s executed. By season’s end, he’ll be as worthy a league MVP candidate as any other player.
Offensive Player of the Year
Tight end Travis Kelce
Others receiving votes: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
Kelce received seven votes. Tyreek Hill also received a vote.
Kelce has been Mahomes’ most consistent, reliable target. He leads Chiefs receivers in targets, receptions and yards. According to PFF, Kelce is the Chiefs’ only major contributor who hasn’t dropped a pass this season. For comparison’s sake, Hill and wide receiver Mecole Hardman have five and four, respectively.
As good as you think Kelce has been this year, he’s been better. In his eighth season, he’s easily on track to earn his third first-team All-Pro award — his third in five seasons. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has earned four such awards during his career.
So far, Kelce leads all NFL tight ends in the these categories:
- Targets (76)
- Receptions (58)
- Yards (769 — third among all NFL players)
- Touchdown catches (6)
- Yards after catch (362 — third among all NFL players)
- First-down receptions (42 — the most among all NFL players)
During the two-game home stand preceding the bye week, Kelce finished strong, totaling18 catches for 271 yards and a score. He continues to be one of the league’s most dominant players — and given the chemistry he has with Mahomes, the record for most yards by a tight end in one season might again be within his reach. In 2018, he held it for a few hours before San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle bested him .
He’d have to pick up the pace a little bit — but not much. He’s on track to finish with 1,367 yards — ten short of the record Kittle set in 2018.
Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive tackle Chris Jones
Others receiving votes: Safety Tyrann Mathieu, defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, safety Daniel Sorensen
Jones received five votes for his play so far. Mathieu received two votes for his efforts, while Nnadi and Sorensen each earned one.
While the defense has had its ups and downs this season, Jones has consistently been disruptive to opposing offenses. His pass-rushing dominance continues to be as fun to watch as it is significant to the unit’s success. He leads the entire unit in quarterback pressures, sacks and forced fumbles — and has missed only one game this season. Among all NFL defenders, he has the ninth-most pressures and the third-most quarterback hits.
His performance has been noticeable because he often seems to be the only defensive lineman who can create true quarterback pressure throughout a game. He leads all of his teammates by ten pressures — and most of them have played in one more game than he has.
Jones’ teammates will need to step up to achieve the pass rush unit’s full potential. With the way he’s playing, an uptick of performance from defensive end Frank Clark (and other linemen) could quickly turn the Chiefs’ front four into the league’s most-feared pass rushers.