Patrick Mahomes ended what could be his second MVP campaign with a humiliation against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. And yet, Few would have expected him to have been in this position since 4 months ago. The AFC West is getting too crowded to be a monopoly, Justin Herbert is the NFL’s most talented pocketman, and the Raiders’ acquisition of Davante Adams has made him and Derek Carr the division’s most dangerous duo. The prevalence of double-hedging highs on early declines is a defensive trend du jour.
The increase in high coverage usage began as a countermeasure against Mahomes and Tireek Hill destroying NFL defenses. Mahomes became so attached to throwing deep balls to Hill after improvising for six seconds, that “f**k it, Tyreek is down there somewhere” has become a running joke.
Including last season’s knockout round, Mahomes faced twice-deep coverage with the league’s highest 389 dropouts, completing 215 of 332 2,532-foot passes, nine touches ball, 9 interceptions and a passing rating of 85.6, ranking 10th in the league. There is an out-of-place panic that these adjustments and the Chiefs’ bringing of Tyreek Hill to Miami will cause Mahomes to lose his superhuman abilities.
Mahomes struggles with two high defensive shells, plus a downgrade from Hill to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster fueled the growing chorus of NFL flavorers, who surmised that Joe Burrow or Josh Allen is the better midfielder. Ironically, two of Mahomes’ three defeats this season have come against his arch-nemesis AFC.
They are still hot on his heels. But Mahomes created a stepping stone and quelled doubts by leading the Captain to a 14-3 record and bye bye to the first round in the AFC knockout stages. The way he does it is what makes his tuning unique.
Mahomes by numbers
Eighteen weeks and 5,250 yards later, Mahomes leads the league in passes and touches and is third in the league for airports completed on Sunday, but 19th for airports. complete each time it is completed. Tua Tagovailoa’s Waddle-Hill combination was instrumental in helping him lead the entire league in yards in the air per finish. 28 of Mahomes’ 41 league-leading touchdowns were back runs or tight finishes, and he hooked up with the top 12 receivers in the league to score.
Travis Kelce continued to produce as an elite wide receiver, but in the void left by Hill, Mahomes developed a relationship with his versatile tails. While Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling scored five touchdowns between the two of them, running back Jerick McKinnon caught at least one touchdown pass in six consecutive games and his nine touchdowns tied Marshall Faulk, Chuck Foreman in 1975 and Leroy Hoard in 1991.
Mahomes regularly pulls magic out of his hat. Mahomes dashed for 358 yards and had the top four touchdowns of his career, but the NFL’s best crosser covered the distance further than any other signal caller behind the play line.
Go where no QB has gone before
And yet, to win a Super Bowl, Mahomes will have to pull off one last trick and defy seven-decade precedent. No NFL quarterback has even been the NFL’s pass lead and won a Super Bowl in the same season. The closest a quarterback has had to that double is Brady with the 19-0 Patriots. The last NFL quarterback to lead the league in touchdowns en route to the NFL championship was Johnny Unitas during the 1959 season.
Kansas City as a team lead in NFL passes in 2020, but the Mahomes sat in the final week of the regular season and was plowed by the Bucs in Super Bowl LV. The six pre-season quarterbacks finished a short match against the leader’s double record in overtaking the previous Super Bowl champion. Dan Marino in 1984, Kurt Warner in 2001, Rich Gannon in 2002, the aforementioned Tom Brady in 2007, Peyton Manning in 2017 and again Tom Brady in 2017.
Mahomes faces a heavy task given the scarcity of talent in the Kansas City defense compared to the personnel that Buffalo, Philadelphia and even Cincinnati have available. Their post-season hopes almost rested heavily on Mahomes’ arms and legs.
Kansas City’s midfield defense and the absence of a juggernaut at the back (though untrained free agent Isiah Pacheco has emerged as a penalty runner in the back line) defender) forced Mahomes to hit the gas, but their lightning movements, and Mahomes’ egalitarianism that distributes throws in the red area, will make this a unique challenge for opponents. in the plan against the game.