Who should really be unsettled by Patrick Mahomes’ first slump?
After a less than ideal start to the 2021 season for the Kansas City Chiefs and star QB Patrick Mahomes, an overwhelming amount of Chiefs Kingdom is in hysteria trying to fit the puzzle pieces together. A team that has appeared in the last three AFC Championship games (winning two) and the past two Super Bowls (bringing the Lombardi to KC in 2019) should not appear to be so mediocre. But alas, here we are going into week 10 with a 5-4 record (and beaten by every contender excluding a Rodgers-less Packers). To make matters worse, except for the second half against Washington, the wins have come in a very unflattering fashion. Although the constant criticism seems targeted towards the defensive short-comings, it's also apparent that the offense isn't playing like the juggernaut we've believed them to be, which leads to a very troubling question: What is wrong with Patrick Mahomes?
Social media would have you believe that Mahomes is finished, he's washed, he was a flash in the pan, he got lucky, and a multitude of other knee-jerk explanations. Some even went as far as to blame his poor performance on the birth of his daughter, his fiancé and brother, or his mom simply sending a sports mom tweet. An alarming amount of the Kingdom are buying into these claims and are genuinely worried about the future of Patrick Mahomes. However, I'm here to pose one question to everyone in the football universe. That question is, who should really be unsettled by Patrick Mahomes' first slump? There is no right or wrong answer, but perhaps we should look at anyone but the Chiefs faithful.
I know what you're thinking. I was sitting at Nissan Stadium when Patrick put up the most abysmal performance of his career against the Titans last month (20-35, 206 YDS, 1 INT). I was close to turning my TV off and giving up on life while he was attempting to one-up it versus the Giants on Monday Night Football last week (29-48, 275 YDS, 1 INT). Yesterday as I watched him produce another lackluster performance against the Packers (20-37, 166 YDS, 1 TD), I was just kind of indifferent about the entire situation and started scrolling Twitter. Mahomes haters were running rampant, acting as if the shade they've been throwing his way for the last three years is now somehow justified. I can almost picture the smug looks on their faces as they smash their greasy fingers into the keypad while proudly claiming "MaFraud has been exposed!" It should be clear to anyone who's paying attention, Patrick is not playing his best football, but just how bad is he when you critique him with the same standards as the rest of the QB's in the league? Let's take him down from the Mahomes pedestal and treat him like every other starting NFL QB.
Heading into Week 10 Patrick is fourth in total passing yards behind Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, and Derek Carr. He's also tied for third in total touchdown passes with Joe Burrow only trailing Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. Although he's third in the interception column, to put his ten interceptions into perspective, almost 50% of them have been the result of dropped passes, batted balls, or bouncing off his own receiver's helmets. Without those misfortunes, Mahomes' interceptions would be right on par with, or better than, the likes of Herbert, Brady, Allen, Prescott, and Stafford. Speaking of dropped passes, we've seen multiple drops from Kelce, Hill, Gordon, and Hardman throughout the season. Without the actual statistics, I don't think it would be a stretch to say that this receiving group would be near leading the league in drops. With all things considered (the unordinary number of dropped passes and a -9 turnover ratio), how in the hell can Mahomes still be statistically a top 4 QB in 2021 to date? The only people that need to be worried about Mahomes' first slump are opposing teams and fans. Even though he is playing the worst football of his career, he's still out-performing at least 27 starting QB's in the NFL.
What is it going to take for PM15 to come out of his first slump? There's been much speculation on this topic. Is it going to take Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy being less stubborn and establishing a run game? What about Brett Veach making a move on another piece to spark the offense, like OBJ? Or the team fixing small mistakes that have added up to poor rhythm on offense? Despite the answers that lie ahead, Patrick Mahomes (at his ceiling) is still the best player in the NFL. No question. The fact that his worst still has him in the upper echelon of QB's should be proof. This realization should put the fear of God into what seems like a league full of parity this season. With a steadily improving defense, when Mahomes gets his mojo back, the sky is the limit for this team. We could very well be looking at another Lombardi in KC despite the early to midseason panic.