The last week of the regular season was my final chance to take a look at a player or thing from twenty different teams, but it was the Chiefs decision to start rookie Patrick Mahomes in their final game ahead of the playoffs that caught my imagination.
I was intrigued to see the player that the Chiefs traded up in the first round to get last April even though they had a team capable of competing for and in the end winning their division. Having watched the game I think intrigued is definitely the word I would continue to use.
Patrick Mahomes spent most of his time taking shotgun snaps and the majority of his passes were quick throws and play action. The offence didn’t flow particularly, but there were a number of other offensive starters rested and once Kareem Hunt had run for thirty-five yard and a touchdown on his single carry he too was sat for the day now that he had the most yards on the ground for the season.
You can see why the Chiefs took Mahomes though. I tend to think that we are too focussed on arm strength when assessing a quarterback and as long as they have enough to deliver the ball accurately then you can build an offence for them to function. However, Mahomes clearly has an arm and whilst I’m don’t think I’m qualified to assess his mechanics particularly, he also has the ability to make time in the pocket and throw the ball on the move. As is frequently the case with this type of ability, this can result in wow plays that get you excited and balls that will make a QB coach scream in frustration. There were not too many, but there were definitely throws and decision that Mahomes will be discussing with his coach at some point.
The quick plays work as Mahomes can deliver the ball quickly and on target, with receiver Albert Wilson making a lot of yards after the catch to help Mahomes figures. There were plenty of times when Mahomes would escape pressure and find a receiver, dump the ball off or throw the ball away, and he was only sacked twice. He even shook of one attempted sack and completed a pass up the middle for the touchdown. However, he also threw a horrible interception where he simply overthrew the pass straight to Broncos safety Darian Stewart.
It is always hard to make grand pronouncements from one game, but it feels like a lot of people are already moving Alex Smith out of Kansas and I do wonder if the Chiefs might want to develop Mahomes for another season before they start him full time. Yes after conservative play calling and sitting Mahomes for a drive, he did lead the game winning drive that enabled the Chiefs to kick a field goal but he did get some help with a badly timed offside penalty from the Broncos. He clearly has talent, and I remain intrigued, which is as much as you should probably expect from first start in the NFL, but the Chiefs already have a quarterback who got them into the playoffs so whilst you will want him to start to develop. The timing of when this transition happens is going to be something that will be the focus for this team as soon as the season ends.