Patrick Mahomes Is A Well-Oiled Touchdown Machine, And He’s On His Way To A Historic Season (Again)

Patrick+Mahomes+Is+A+Well-Oiled+Touchdown+Machine%2C+And+He%27s+On+His+Way+To+A+Historic+Season+%28Again%29

By Aaron Hook, Staff Writer

well-oiled machine (plural well-oiled machines).

Noun

  1. Something that operates capably through the effective coordination of many parts.

 

If that is truly the definition of a well-oiled machine, then Patrick Mahomes’ skills on the gridiron make that definition an understatement for the ages. He was engineered in a lab somewhere by some of the world’s finest, with a common goal in mind when making him: Touchdowns. They equipped him with a rocket arm, inspired by the pure power of Brett Favre, aka “The Gunslinger”, and the precision of Peyton Manning. The Mahomes 3000 test model was given the mind of some of the NFL greats as well, such as Tom Brady, Dan Marino, and Drew Brees. They even worked on projects that were unnecessary but were added just to make him more awesome. Quick, nimble legs that would allow him to escape the pocket with ease and do it himself. They programmed another chip into his super brain that made him extremely efficient. They gave him great size for the position, at 6’3 and just under 230 pounds. They had created Patrick Mahomes, and he was ready to take over the NFL the moment they released him to the world. But first, he had to go through college.

 

The experiment was quite a success in Mahomes’ 3 years at Texas Tech, as in 32 games through his freshman, sophomore, and junior year, he tossed 93 touchdowns against just 29 interceptions. His junior year was one of the most prolific years for a college quarterback ever, as he led the country with 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns. Mahomes played in the Big 12, where ‘air raid’ systems are common and lead to high scoring games and crazy offensive numbers. This was put on full display on an October night in 2016 when Mahomes’ Red Raiders hosted the Sooners of Oklahoma, led by Baker Mayfield, who in his own right is a machine, just not as prominent as Mahomes. OU came out of a bloodbath in Lubbock with a 66-59 win. The score may seem crazy, but that is nothing in comparison to the individual stats that Mayfield and Mahomes tallied. Mayfield went 27-36 (75%) with 545 and 7 touchdowns through the air, while Mahomes had an absolutely absurd performance, completing 52 passes on 88 (!) attempts (59%) for 734 yards, tossing 5 touchdowns, with only one interception. He also ran for 85 yards and two additional scores. While TT had fallen short in a shootout at home, Mahomes had put the country on watch.

 

Again, if Mahomes really is a machine, then Andy Reid must’ve read his manual a few thousand times. Reid and the Chiefs selected Mahomes with the tenth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Some scouts had questions about whether Mahomes could make the switch from a Kliff Kingsbury engineered air-raid offense to a pro-style one, and they were right to have doubts. Many quarterbacks before Mahomes such as Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden, and Geno Smith, put up monster numbers in college in similar Big 12 air raid systems but failed to transition to the  NFL’s pro-style schemes. Scouts knew that Mahomes could throw the ball, but questioned his “non-existent footwork” and “shotty mechanics”. The margin of error that Mahomes got away with in college was another thing that scared scouts. Mahomes was able to air the ball down the field about 25-30 times a game in college and ended up only throwing 10 picks in his junior year. Scouts feared that if Mahomes aired the ball out as much as he did in college, he would get burned for it much more often against NFL secondaries. What they didn’t know is that Mahomes had found the perfect team, and, more importantly, the perfect mentors for him to grow into the NFL’s brightest young superstar in just over a year.

 

Andy Reid knew that he had found his guy in Patrick Mahomes after watching tape of him for the first time. The Chiefs traded up 17 picks to snatch him with the 10th overall selection in the 2017 draft, and one would be foolish to think that Reid didn’t push that for months on end. Reid wasn’t fazed when some analysts literally called the pick the worst in the entire DRAFT. Not the first round, but the entire 7 round, 3-day annual spectacle. Veteran star Alex Smith was a fantastic mentor to Mahomes during his rookie campaign, as he taught him many things, from how to read high safety zone coverages to how to be a professional. Reid said in an interview that Mahomes “owes Alex the world for that”, referring to the many insights Smith gave him. Smith had a fantastic 2017 season in Reid’s offense, which is a combination of both a typical pro offense and a college-style air-raid offense. Mahomes only played in one game behind Smith in 2017, a week 17 game against Denver. The Chiefs had already locked up a playoff spot at that point, so Smith was resting and Mahomes was the starter for that game. The rookie went 22-35 for 284 yards in the contest, throwing an interception but failing to throw a TD pass. Still, Mahomes had a fantastic game in his NFL debut. Von Miller, a 7x Pro Bowl and 3x All-Pro Edge rusher for the Broncos had high praise for Mahomes. “He wasn’t the typical rookie quarterback,” Miller said. “He made all types of plays, was able to complete a whole bunch of passes and comeback to win the game”. Mahomes and the Chiefs had control of the game with a 24-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Denver came storming back with a fumble recovery score and a 6-yard touchdown pass from Paxton Lynch to Demaryius Thomas. Tyler Bray had been the quarterback for the Chiefs the previous two drives, and he had done almost nothing productive, fumbling the handoff to Anthony Sherman on 1st and 10 which resulted in Zaire Anderson scooping it up and taking it to the house, as well as not completing his only pass attempt. With the score tied at 24 and 2;53 remaining. The Chiefs put the then 22-year-old Mahomes back into the game and put the game in his hands. Mahomes led a 79 yard, 11 play drive in just over 2 minutes to seal a Kansas City win to end the year. In the same interview previously mentioned, Reid talked about that game in Denver. “We had a chance, kind of a dress rehearsal when he played Denver, not knowing that we were going to lose Alex the following year. But, he steps in and does a heck of a job for us against their defense. I mean, it’s not like they weren’t playing their guys.” When asked if there was one specific play or moment in practice when Mahomes blew his mind, he said “He did one of those no-look jobs early on in practice. Justin Houston went one way and the ball went the other. And you can tell with players, when they say ‘This guy’s the real deal’, you’re pretty sure that’s the case. Justin went ‘This guy’s unbelievable.”

 

On January 30, 2018, just over a month after that game and a little over 3 weeks after the Chiefs suffered a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to the Titans in the Wild Card round, a game in which they had a 21-3 lead at halftime and were outscored 19-0 in the second half, they traded Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, in return for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick. It was Mahomes’ time to shine. Mahomes certainly would have a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball, with All-Pros Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at the top receiver and tight end spot respectively, as well as Kareem Hunt in the backfield, who was on his way to another Pro-Bowl selection before a nasty off the field incident surfaced and he was let go by the Chiefs. The offensive line was very solid as well, as Pro Football Focus ranked Kansas City’s unit as the 13th best in the NFL during the regular season, even while most starters didn’t remain fully healthy outside of Mitchell Schwartz. Mahomes was the leader of the offense in 2018, and he had a historically good season. When all said and done, Mahomes finished the year with 50 touchdowns compared to just 12 interceptions, 5,097 yards, and a QBR of 80.4. Additionally, Mahomes led the league in passer rating at 113.8, TD% at 8.6, and Approximate Value (similar to WAR) at 22. Mahomes truly shocked his critics and scouts, who on draft night were skeptical of his ability to read NFL defenses and call a game behind center. Mahomes is truly one of the great minds in the NFL today, as he outsmarts defenses with creative pre and post-snap adjustments and movements. His 2018 put all of that on full display, and he was honored by receiving both the Offensive Player of the Year and the league MVP trophy. Kansas City would fall short to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, cutting Mahomes’ incredible season one round short. Although he wasn’t able to capture a title, Patrick Mahomes’ 2018 was truly a special one and one that many people would write off as a fluke.

 

The narrative surrounding Patrick Mahomes going into the 2019 season was that there was no way he could duplicate his ridiculous success through the air from the season before, that he would struggle in his second full season, that he would regress a little bit and he would finally hit that learning curve that most, if not all quarterbacks go through in their initial years in the NFL. Mahomes was, an continues to be an exception. It seems almost impossible to think, but at this point, Patrick Mahomes is on pace to have a better statistical season than last year. Through 4 games, in which he has led the Chiefs to 4 wins, Mahomes has out astronomically good numbers that are putting him on a pace to have a season that matches or surpasses his 2018. Mahomes leads the NFL outright in yards with 1,831 yards while being tied for 2nd in touchdowns with 11, while at the same time throwing 0 interceptions. A QB rate at 114.7, yards gained per completion at 14.2, and completing 65.6% percent of his passes, which ranks sixth among Quarterbacks who have completed over 150 passes. Mahomes has hit a slight dip in production in Weeks 4 and 5, throwing for 636 yards and 1 touchdown in those two games combined, while his Chiefs went 1-1 and sit at 4-1 overall this season. Mahomes is so good that 636 yards over two games is below average. His touchdown production has taken a hit, sure, but he’s still on pace for 44. Absolutely ridiculous. It’s one thing to look at numbers, which Mahomes certainly has, but his immense talent cannot be measured just by looking at his absurd statistics. His ability to make 40-yard pinpoint throws off his back foot while under pressure is something that a very few numbers of quarterbacks have been able to do once. Mahomes does something of that sort almost every week. In week 5 against Indianapolis, Mahomes took a snap from the shotgun in the early part of the 2nd  quarter. He was immediately under pressure, with the Colts’ Kemoko Turay coming off the right edge and chasing him out of the pocket. Mahomes then ran to the left, away from the pressure, but was met by the unwelcoming sight of his former teammate, Justin Houston, breaking away from Cameron Erving and making his way towards him. Mahomes then revered fields, scampering away from the Colts’ pass rush, and threw a 27-yard dime on the run to Byron Pringle for a touchdown. It literally looked like something out of a video game. And oh, by the way, this was on 3rd and 18.

 

Mahomes has garnered an ability to break down and toy with opposing defenses so quickly into his NFL career, and he is only getting better at it. His precise reads, motion calls, audibles, and just his sheer ability to make absurd throws, just scratches the surface in terms of how good he is. When all said and done, if he keeps up the pace he’s on, he could be in the running for the most talented quarterback in league history. But don’t worry about that. He’s only 24 and has about 15 years left under his belt. So sit back and enjoy watching Patrick Mahomes, a perfectly crafted, well-oiled touchdown machine who seems to have no limits.