Patrick Mahomes capped off what was possible his second MVP marketing campaign with a humiliation of the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. And but, few anticipated him to be on this place 4 months in the past. The AFC West was getting too crowded to be a monopoly, Justin Herbert was the NFL’s most gifted pocket passer, and the Raiders acquisition of Davante Adams made him and Derek Carr the division’s most harmful duo. The proliferation of two-high coverages on early downs because the defensive pattern du jour.
The rise of two-high protection utilization started as a counter to Mahomes and Tyreek Hill’s obliteration of NFL defenses. Mahomes grew to become so related to launching deep balls to Hill after improvising for six seconds, that “f**k it, Tyreek’s down there somewhere” grew to become a working joke.
Together with final season’s playoffs, Mahomes confronted two-deep protection on a league-high 389 dropbacks, accomplished 215-of-332 passes for two,532 yards, 9 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a passer ranking of 85.6, which ranked tenth within the league. There was a misplaced panic that these changes and the Chiefs’ catapulting Tyreek Hill to Miami would sap Mahomes of his superhuman potential.
Mahomes’ struggles with two-high defensive shells, plus the downgrade from Hill to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster fueled the rising refrain of NFL tastemakers who surmised that Joe Burrow or Josh Allen were better quarterbacks. Paradoxically, two of Mahomes’ three losses this season had been to his AFC archnemesis’.
They’re nonetheless scorching on his heels. However Mahomes created a cushion and quelled the doubts by main the Chiefs to a 14-3 file and a primary spherical bye within the AFC playoffs. How he did it’s what made his readjustment so distinctive.
Mahomes by the numbers
Eighteen weeks and 5,250 yards later, Mahomes leads the league in passing yardage, landing passes and is third within the league in accomplished air yards coming into Sunday, however nineteenth in full air yards per completion. Tua Tagovailoa’s Waddle-Hill combo had been instrumental in him main your complete league in air yards per completion. Twenty-eight of Mahomes’ league-leading 41 touchdowns had been to both a working again or tight finish and he related with a league-high 12 receivers for scores.
Travis Kelce continued producing like an elite vast receiver, however within the void left behind by Hill, Mahomes developed a rapport together with his versatile tailbacks. Whereas Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling scored 5 touchdowns between the 2 of them, working again Jerick McKinnon caught no less than one landing cross in six consecutive video games and his 9 landing receptions tied Marshall Faulk, Chuck Foreman in 1975 and Leroy Hoard in 1991.
Mahomes pulled magic out of his hat frequently. Mahomes rushed for 358 yards and a career-high 4 touchdowns, however the NFL’s greatest sideways scrambler coated extra distance than some other sign caller behind the road of scrimmage.
Going the place no QB has gone earlier than
And but, to win a Tremendous Bowl, Mahomes should pull off one final trick and defy seven many years of precedent. No NFL quarterback has even been the NFL’s passing yardage chief and received a Tremendous Bowl in the identical season. The closest a quarterback has come to pulling off that double feat was Brady with the 19-0 Patriots. The final NFL quarterback to steer the league in touchdowns en path to an NFL championship was Johnny Unitas through the 1959 season.
Kansas Metropolis as a group had been the NFL’s passing yardage chief in 2020, however Mahomes sat the ultimate week of the common season and wound up getting plowed by the Bucs in Tremendous Bowl LV. Six quarterbacks earlier than this season have completed one sport in need of the Tremendous Bowl champs-passing yardage chief double feat earlier than. Dan Marino in 1984, Kurt Warner in 2001, Wealthy Gannon in 2002, the aforementioned Tom Brady in 2007, Peyton Manning in 2017, and Tom Brady once more in 2017.
Mahomes faces a Herculean job given the dearth of expertise on Kansas Metropolis’s defensive finish compared to the personnel Buffalo, Philadelphia, and even Cincinnati have at their disposal. Their postseason hopes relaxation nearly sorely on Mahomes’ legs and arms.
Kansas Metropolis’s middling protection and the absence of a juggernaut within the backfield (though undrafted free agent Isiah Pacheco emerged as a punishing runner within the backfield) has pressured Mahomes to maintain his foot on the gasoline, however their pre-snap motions and Mahomes’ egalitarian distribution of throws within the crimson zone, will make this a novel problem for opponents to sport plan towards.