As you’d expect, I was left with a strong group of qualified passers, but there are some notable omissions from the top 10. The first one that leaps off the screen (and will likely attract an avalanche of angry tweets) is the absence of perhaps the league’s top quarterback and most exciting deep passer: Patrick Mahomes.
Allow me to explain. We relied on a group of metrics to rank the qualifying passers. Chief among them: completion percentage over expectation (CPOE), which represents the difference between a passer’s expected completion percentage (determined by evaluating a number of factors, including pressure, time to throw, distance of attempt and separation between targeted receiver and nearest defender) and actual completion percentage. A positive CPOE indicates performance above expectation, while a negative difference indicates performance below expectation. Mahomes ranked last in CPOE among the QBs who met the aforementioned statistical requirements, with a mark of -0.7 percent.
The talent around Mahomes could be working against him when it comes to CPOE. A key part of determining expected completion percentage is the separation of a receiver from the nearest defender at the time a pass arrives. A quarterback equipped with receivers who are excellent at creating separation figures to suffer in this regard because he’ll have more expected completions than your average QB. With targets like Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce, Mahomes’ situation becomes the perfect storm to produce a negative CPOE, even though we all know he is an excellent passer. As they say, speed kills, but it also can significantly hurt a quarterback’s CPOE.
Patrick Mahomes to Jell with O-Line Early?
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes underwent surgery to repair a torn plantar plate in his foot in February.
He suffered the injury during a postseason win over the Cleveland Browns, and his recovery timetable suggested he’d at least be ready for training camp.
It turns out he could be ready for OTAs this week.
According to James Palmer of NFL Network, Mahomes is ahead of schedule and will “do some stuff” at OTAs on May 25.
That’s an incredible development for the Chiefs, who would love to get Mahomes in sync with new offensive linemen Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney as quickly as possible. Last year, Mahomes had another huge performance with 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns against six interceptions.
The O-line was decimated by injuries, however, and according to Next Gen Stats (h/t Seth Walder of ESPN), Mahomes ran nearly 500 yards before his passes and sacks in the Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This offseason, it seems Mahomes will be able to jell with his O-line earlier than planned.
The Bears cut Kyle Fuller, who was scheduled to make $20 million in 2021, on March 20. Chicago signed Desmond Trufant to a one-year, $1.075 million deal, and it has two draft choices from last year, Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor, as the Bears seek to replace the two-time Pro Bowler.
While the Bears are optimistic about their cornerback competition, they apparently aren’t done shopping.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the team has expressed interest in free agent cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Breeland visited the Vikings last week and other teams have interest.
Week 6 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Opponent win total: O/U 12
Patrick Mahomes vs. Washington’s defense should make for an exciting game, but I’m not going to pick against Kansas City here.
Prediction: Washington loses 30-24
Projected record: 3-3
Kansas City Chiefs: Jarran Reed, DT
The additions that KC had on the offensive line should have the biggest impact, but Reed is the individual addition that should stand out most. The former Seahawk had 6.5 sacks last season and joins Chris Jones to create a scary interior pass rush for the Chiefs.
Around the NFL
The 22 women who are suing the Houston Texans quarterback for alleged sexual assault would be deposed before Watson, who’s not scheduled until early 2022, Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said Tuesday.
According to the docket for the case, Watson can’t be deposed before Feb. 22, 2022.
Hardin reiterated Tuesday that Watson is not currently in settlement discussions with the women suing him. Watson maintains he wants any settlement amounts to be public, although the two sides could mediate in confidentiality, as is customary.
2 - Cleveland Browns
The Browns look like the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC currently. They’ve already made several impressive acquisitions this offseason, so they might as well go all in, especially as long as star quarterback Baker Mayfield is still operating on a rookie deal. The Browns have a few things working in their favor if they want to make a move like this. One is cap space. They’ve got nearly $21 million to play with, per Over The Cap, at the moment. The other benefit is roster flexibility. Cleveland already has two high-profile wide receivers on its roster — Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry — but Beckham only has one year of guaranteed money left on his deal, while Landry has none remaining in the final two years of his contract. The Browns also haven’t been afraid to add talented players to a crowded position (just look at how they made the combination of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt work at running back last season).
Now, there’s a valid argument to be made that Beckham and Landry offer more in the long run, because both are turning 29 this season. And it’s true that Cleveland needs to start signing younger stars like Chubb and Mayfield to long-term extensions in the near future. But let’s not ignore the fact that Cleveland’s window to win a championship is open right now, and they have to find a way to get past Kansas City. Remember, the Chiefs looked like a team that was overdoing it when they gave injury-plagued receiver Sammy Watkins a three-year, $48 million deal in 2018. He stayed healthy long enough in the playoffs to be a difference-maker in their Super Bowl run a year later. Jones could do the same thing for the Browns.
“A lot of this was put in motion last year, and the wrench was just kind of thrown into it when I won MVP and played the way I played last year,” Rodgers said during the interview. “This is just kind of, I think, a spill-out of all that. But it is about the people, and that’s the most important thing. Green Bay has always been about the people — from Curly Lambeau being owner and founder to the ‘60s with [Vince] Lombardi and Bart Starr and all those incredible names to the ‘90s teams with coach [Mike] Holmgren and Favrey [Brett Favre] and the Minister of Defense [Reggie White] to the run that we’ve been on. It’s about the people.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Mecole Hardman vs. the field
I’m on record as saying that the title of “No. 2 wide receiver” doesn’t actually matter. I believe it’s more about specific roles, skills and packages, and that the Chiefs will spread the ball around to several players after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. That being said, we can still learn a lot about the potential development of Mecole Hardman beginning this week, as he lines up and (hopefully) shows mastery of the offense. It will also be interesting to see how much work Cornell Powell gets with the first team as compared to Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and others. Also watch for the Chiefs’ debut of Antonio Callaway, who Veach has spoken highly about and has an outside shot at a final wide receiver job.
A tweet to make you think
I been tryna turn the city up. pic.twitter.com/7sZwRTzP1f— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) May 25, 2021
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