Welcome to the Mahomes Report, a weekly breakdown from Brendan Dzwierzynski ol rig what Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did, either good or bad, during the most recent Chiefs game. For past editions, click here.
Another week, another record for Patrick Mahomes.
After a decade of domination for Aaron Rodgers, Mahomes is now the NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating, taking the crown this weekend after finally passing the minimum 1,500 attempts required to qualify for the leaderboard.
How did he celebrate? By throwing for over 400 yards for the fifth time in his career, torching the Tampa Bay defense en route to Kansas City’s sixth-straight win.
Mahomes wasn’t perfect in the Week 12 win, but thanks in large part to his otherworldly connection to Tyreek Hill it sure felt like he was. He made it work for the Chiefs in all facets of the game, throwing deep, executing RPOs, running the ball when necessary, etc. After a while, you start to feel a little numb to all of his spectacular plays, but this was a week that would make even the most hardened Mahomes fan’s jaw drop.
All three Mahomes touchdown passes went to Hill in Sunday’s victory, and we’ll start with that triumvirate of beauty. First up, the first score of the game.
Carlton Davis (24) was torched repeatedly in this game, but you can largely blame Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for that. Why would you leave single man coverage on Hill all game long? Mahomes simply fires a rocket here, taking advantage of a clean pocket in front of him to step in and charge up a throw with an incredible amount of force. It was the longest pass of his career in terms of air yards, and it helps to have the fastest player in the NFL deep to go get it. You can’t overstate how hard it is to throw a perfect pass that far down the field.
Poor Carlton Davis was burned for Mahomes’s next touchdown pass, too.
This is just a deep slant from Hill, who’s line up in the inside left slot. He’s simply too fast, so Mahomes knows he can put the ball anywhere and his target will run underneath. QB1 makes this easy on his No. 1 receiver, too, simply flicking his wrist and twisting his upper body to generate power, which is more than enough to get this ball 24 yards down the field. Hill runs right through the ball and does the rest. His speed makes this play happen, but the perfect throw from Mahomes made Hill’s job a synch.
Both of those scores came in a legendary first quarter for the duo, but Mahomes and Hill would hook up one more time later in the game.
There is no defense for a perfect pass. Davis is, you guessed it, beaten by Hill on the go route. He’s not the only one showing off speed on this play, because Mahomes rips this throw to the outside, passing with so much velocity that the cornerback doesn’t have time to find the ball and make a play on it. Mahomes knew what he wanted to do from the very jump here, identifying the coverage and the mismatch. Credit the offensive line on all three of these plays, because a clean pocket gave Mahomes the chance to throw from whatever base and with whatever delivery he wanted to execute each play. This is just a dart.
Hill was good for more than just touchdowns in Week 12, and in this next series of plays we’ll examine Mahomes’s RPO mastery in conjunction with Hill’s diverse route tree. Here, on the first play of the game, the two connect for a huge gain on a play in which the defense was far too slow to react.
This is a variation of the drag wheel concept, except instead of actually running a drag route to start Hill switches sides of the formation with pre-snap motion. The run action to Clyde Edwards-Helaire goes right, which pulls the defensive line out of the play and also draws the attention of cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23) on the left side of the play. Hill zooms past him and gives Mahomes an easy target, with nobody near the receiver before the deep safety. You can see Mahomes process all this information in an instant, which not only sets up this big gain but also shows you why he always makes the right read on the RPO.
But why even bother bringing Hill in motion when he can beat his man going deep regardless?
Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) is playing deep middle and all the linebackers bite on the run action, so it’s truly one-on-one coverage on the outside. Once again Mahomes recognizes the matchup he wants from the jump, and to the naked eye this appears to be a pre-snap RPO, meaning Mahomes counted the defenders and picked where he was going with the ball well before the run action started. And we haven’t even gotten to this gorgeous pass, a back-shoulder throw 20 yards down the field that Davis has no chance of defending.
And don’t forget about non-vertical routes on RPOs, either.
This one is far more reminiscent of the Chiefs’ classic RPO slant concept. Instead of a regular slant Hill runs a spot route, posting up just behind linebacker Devin White (45), who flowed to the run action on the right side of the play. That opens up the window and Mahomes threads the pass through it. Andy Reid performed a masterclass in RPO usage this Sunday.
It’s time to get some other pass catchers involved in this week’s Report. He was overshadowed by Hill’s big day, but Travis Kelce put together a solid afternoon as well.
We are entering the “lasers only” part of the program, and first we have Mahomes unloading a long throw across the field to the left sideline. So many times we see Mahomes complete a pass, laser-like or not, that seems so effortless, but with this completion you can see how much energy he’s putting into the delivery. Good protection helps once again, allowing No. 15 to set up and step into the throw, delivering it almost like a pitcher.
In the second quarter, Mahomes’s pinpoint accuracy led to another big gain for Kelce.
Mahomes scans the whole field and goes through his reads before working back to Kelce on the right. Murphy-Bunting and Lavonte David (54), who might be the most underrated player in the whole NFL, are the bread of a Kelce sandwich, and there’s little margin for error on this throw. Anything that pulls left or right could end up incomplete, or worse. Mahomes generates the throw power with torque again here, and he threads the ball between the two defenders with perfect precision. Most quarterbacks would never attempt this throw, considering it takes flawless velocity and accuracy to pull off.
Mecole Hardman got to catch a laser in the win, too.
This one is flirting with the fine line between “laser” and just any other good throw with some heat, but we’ll give Mahomes the benefit of the doubt. With the way he’s rolling out, with the backpedal into a shuffle to the left, conventional wisdom would dictate this throw would go down the sideline. But notice his body positioning and posture: He keeps his shoulders facing the wide side of the field throughout the play, and he never diverts his eyes, continuing to scan even as he runs out of room. For good measure, with 6-foot-6, 281-pound William Gholston charging at him with a hand in the air, Mahomes back over the middle of the field with great precision once again, finding Hardman in front of his defender for a first-down conversion.
Mahomes was excellent on the move in Week 12, making several big plays rolling out of the pocket. That included the following second-quarter completion to Demarcus Robinson.
You can complain all you want about Mahomes making his own pressure because of his deep dropbacks or the way he’ll fade in the pocket, but if that’s all you have to concede to get plays like this regularly that’s an easy deal to make. His sneaky speed helps him get away from Jason Pierre-Paul (90), shifting quickly from running away from the line of scrimmage to propelling toward it. Then, while sprinting ahead, he shoots this ball down the rail and right around (beaten) cornerback Ross Cockrell (43).
Mahomes’s legs and generally elite awareness helped make the play on the final meaningful down to the game.
Again, you can see how quickly he’s able to process space and time in a crucial situation. This is a designed roll right, and after identifying Hill along the sideline he does a great job of cutting back inside behind Eric Fisher, giving him the space he needs to move upfield and get off a clean throw. Mahomes lofts it right over a defender, Hill makes the snag and the game is over.
We also absolutely need to address Patrick Mahomes, Option Quarterback.
For those of us that have an intense, emotional love of option football, Mahomes made our dreams come true on this keeper. Two defenders play the pitch man, so Mahomes keep and sprints through the gap for a big gain and a first down. He gave off intense Tommie Frazier, Keenan Reynolds, etc. vibes with this one.
Mahomes did have a few iffy throws on Sunday, and we start with one that has generated a bizarre amount of controversy.
This is a miss by Mahomes. It’s OK to call it what it is. Yes, Hardman still could have caught it, especially considering he got his hands on it, but Mahomes missed the mark here. If he throws this ball further over the middle it’s a Chiefs touchdown. And that’s OK, not every mistake needs to be written off as someone else’s fault or completely whitewashed. Even Superman had a weakness.
There was also a missed throw that could have been picked off in the second quarter.
You have to imagine there was a miscommunication here, because you have to imagine a throw that lands halfway between Kelce and Hill wasn’t placed there aimlessly. Either way, file this away as a near turnover, something that should make Pro Football Focus’s ears perk up.
Lastly, Mahomes did have a turnover in the win, just not one through the air.
Quarterback fumbles are rarely the quarterback’s fault entirely, although a great move by Shaq Barrett (58) did throw off the internal clock for Mahomes here. Barrett carries Fisher deep and the left tackle can’t keep up with the speed rush, allowing Barrett to peel around and attack Mahomes. QB1 thought he had more time, the ball is out and a good scoring chance goes by the boards. Again, not all on Mahomes, but turnovers get placed here regardless. Sorry, Patrick.
Bashaud Breeland has been very good over the course of the year, and he was rewarded with an interception of Tom Brady on Sunday.
All it took to make this play was good positioning. Tyrann Mathieu blitzes and pummels Tom Brady, and Breeland is in perfect position to shield Scotty Miller (10) from the ball to make the pick. Nice tag team effort to force the takeaway.
And Dan Sorensen, even when he doesn’t make the play, is still getting involved on turnovers, too.
Doink. Mathieu gets all the credit this time with the interception, but Brady doming Sorensen with the pass is what actually causes this to fall apart for the Buccaneers. Good job by the Chiefs defense being opportunistic and taking advantage of mistakes.
It’s been a tough few weeks for Frank Clark. He is a stud of a player, but his pressure numbers are decreasing at a concerning rate, and the biggest plays he made in Sunday’s win were two bad roughing the passer penalties on one drive.
Any time you hit the quarterback in the head you’re going to get flagged for it. Every defensive lineman and pass rusher should know that by now. The Bucs took advantage of these two penalties and scored to close the gap. He got to the quarterback and that’s a good thing, and his production should rebound at some point. But you can’t commit bad penalties like this in crunch time.
Also, again, the tackling.
Ronald Jones makes an awesome play here, showing off his speed and agility down the sideline. But Damien Wilson takes a bad angle and can’t even slow Jones down, then Sorensen gets leaped over and it’s a Tampa Bay touchdown. It wasn’t as bad this week as it was last week, but tackling remains an issue for this defense.