Welcome to the Mahomes Report, a weekly breakdown from Brendan Dzwierzynski of 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 masterful performance by Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ quarterback was on his game once again in Week 16, tearing up an ill-prepared Bears secondary as part of a second-straight blowout victory. His stretch of middling games is already a distant memory.
Chicago gave the Kansas City offense and Mahomes a lot of zone looks. That was very dumb. As he always does against soft zones, he shredded the defense with efficiency throughout the Sunday-night slaughter.
Nobody wants to face the Chiefs right now. They have confidence on both sides of the ball, the defense is playing phenomenally and Mahomes is playing the like the quarterback who took home the MVP trophy with a history-making season last year.
The first touchdown pass of Sunday’s game was the result of an excellent design, throw and catch.
Everything about this play is beautiful. Travis Kelce goes in motion from outside in on the left, with two receivers (Demarcus Robinson and Tyreek Hill) split outside of him. Their routes diverge at the goal line, which pulls two cornerbacks apart and allows Kelce to bounce back outside into a wide-open lane. Mahomes holds the linebackers with a play fake, then fires the ball in with a side step. It’s slightly behind Kelce but nothing the big tight end can’t handle. In fact, taking his target out of the direct line of fire from Buster Skrine (24) was a better move, anyway. This was a flawless score.
The second touchdown pass from Mahomes wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the first upon the initial look, but a great pair of routes opened up a wide open wheel for Damien Williams.
Routes out of the backfield are often difficult to cover, considering the back (or receiver) gets a free release and has forward momentum before the defender, usually a linebacker, picks them up. The Mahomes to Williams wheel route connection has been a staple this year for the Chiefs, nearly always working to perfection. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski (44) is the man assigned to Williams, lined up six yards off the line and even with the defensive back assigned to Blake Bell, who’s lined up tight left. Bell runs a slant, dragging his defender across the field and right into Kwiatkowski, who’s screened and unable to reach his mark in time. That leaves Williams all alone on the wheel route from the backfield. This is easy pickings for Mahomes for his second touchdown.
He also got to show off the legs again this week, punishing the Bears for vacating a whole half of the field.
Every route on this play occupies the right side of the field. All the defensive backs and defenders need to flow that way, including Leonard Floyd (94) who’s on Kelce. Talk about a mismatch. With pressure coming from the right edge, however, Mahomes has to take off and is left with nothing but green grass and high tides in front of him. Floyd has no chance to catch up and the game was effectively over. Really. If Kansas City didn’t score another single point it still would have won.
Going back to plays with impressive designs, the Bears didn’t get completely thrown off by the following fake bootleg, but Mahomes and Hill still picked up a first down on the play.
The whole offensive line slides left to protect what looks like a designed rollout, but Mahomes stops halfway and turns back toward the middle. Where things break is down when the Bears bring blitz pressure from the right and Mitchell Schwartz also gets beaten on his block. Mahomes faces more pressure and dwindling time to throw. He still keeps his eyes downfield and sees Hill working back to the ball. There isn’t any defensive help on that side because everyone else was covering the left. Mahomes drops it in to Hill and the receiver does the rest for a first down.
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a clear-cut Laser of the Week, but there were several good candidates in Week 16.
When this play happened in the first quarter you could tell right away that Kansas City was feeling it. Facing a third down and 18, Mahomes is not willing to just check down and work into the fringes of field goal range. Instead, the Chiefs run four vertical routes. The Bears bluff five rushers and end up bringing four, and they’re able to collapse the pocket and create some pressure. Mahomes still has room to step into the pass though, throwing a heat-seeking missile to Hill over the middle for 19 yards. Even with the likes of Khalil Mack (52) bearing down on him he’s able to get off a crisp throw to his target, who makes a nice, leaping grab. These are special kinds of throws in tough situations.
The Chiefs were fantastic on third downs on Sunday, including this conversion that came earlier on the same drive as the previous play.
Hill and Sammy Watkins are running a slot cross combination from the right, with Hill running a slant from the slot and Watkins running a dig. Mahomes has plenty of time in the pocket on this one and is able to wait for Watkins to come open over the middle. He waits, identifies his receiver after going through his reads, steps in and fires it with high velocity. This was one of several third and longs converted this weekend.
Continuing on with the list of lasers against the Bears, the next two are perfect examples of why it’s impossible to stop the Chiefs while running a zone.
This soft coverage leaves Hill wide open when he stops at the top of his route and it’s an easy first down for Kansas City. This is giving away free yards to the Chiefs. Once again, you can see Mahomes go through his progression, scanning from left to right and finding Hill in his isolated bubble down the field. This is too easy.
And there was more of the same in the fourth quarter.
Why would you do this? This opening drive of the fourth quarter eventually led to Mahomes’ second passing touchdown and it got started with the easiest possible completion. It’s simple: the Bears tried to play soft and Mahomes killed them. Just appreciate the beauty of this pass. Play fake, set, show off the hand cannon, first down.
QB1 showed off his scrambling ability on more plays that just his touchdown run this weekend. That includes this throw to Spencer Ware while on the move.
Running away from Khalil Mack is something many quarterbacks have had to do for the last several years. It’s Mahomes’ turn here, and as he always does he keeps his eyes down the field to keep hope of a bigger play alive instead of just throwing it away or running for little to no gain. After chipping on Floyd Ware runs a delayed route to the sideline and keeps working downfield even as defensive helps comes to cover him. Mahomes sprints right, finds Ware open and fires a pass on target to his back, who’s doing a good job of boxing out to get position. The impressive part of the play is to be able to throw without a set base while on the move but still get perfect accuracy on the pass.
Mahomes didn’t make as much of a splash with his feet on this next play from the third quarter, but shifting slightly gave him the window he needed to throw for a good gain.
After his dropback he shifts slightly left, creating a little more separation from the edge pressure and buying time while scanning the field. He sees Kelce getting separation crossing the middle while working against Eddie Jackson (39) and he knows he can make the throw. Instead of a laser, though, he puts more touch on the pass. It’s up and away from Kelce, who can reach up and grab it while continuing to run across the field. This throw is absurd in plenty of ways. He’s already slid left, he drops his arm angle to a full-on sidearm position and throws a tight spiral against the grain with precision. Meanwhile, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was struggling to complete elementary throws on Sunday.
One last example of Mahomes using his footwork effectively:
The thing to pay attention to here is the overarching theme of Mahomes being able to throw accurately and with power regardless of his base and the direction he’s moving in. Robinson is wide open so he’s not throwing into traffic to complete this, but you still can appreciate Mahomes feeling pressure, finding a spot to step into and picking up a first down with a good throw.
We’ve mentioned Mack a few times already, and while he hasn’t been the superhuman he was all last season he’s still someone who can wreck opponents. He nearly got Mahomes on this next play, but the quarterback saved himself by showing off good escapability.
It’s difficult to get out of Mack’s clutches. Mahomes is so shifty though, able to flex out of the way and stay upright and keep the play alive. After dodging Mack, Mahomes loses his balance but still connects with Kelce on a crossing route for a first down.
That’s not all for the times he had to escape pressure to keep a play alive, either.
The Chiefs couldn’t convert on this third down, but this is still a remarkable play by Mahomes. He dips, dives and dodges all over the pocket to buy himself as much time as possible while the Bears are caving the offensive line in. He never loses track of his receivers while bouncing around behind the line, then he delivers the throw while lunging forward and hits Kelce with a dart despite releasing while airborne. The release looks a little awkward, but it’s a good gain on third and forever.
Pump fakes are becoming a weekly feature on the Mahomes Report, and we had another one this week that ended up in a completion to Watkins.
First of all, Watkins runs a strong route on this play. He stops at the top of his route before breaking back to the inside. It would have been hard for Aaron Lynch (99) to recover on this play just due to the route itself, but Mahomes’ pump fake completely eliminates him from the play. You can time up when Mahomes pumps to his right and Lynch takes a step toward that side. This completely neutralizes Lynch. Mahomes then drops his arm slot down and zips a throw back across the middle from a standing position. This third-down conversion featured the total package from No. 15.
Finally, for today’s good plays, our fun RPO of the week. This time around it features another baseball-style throw from QB1.
Cris Collinsworth mentioned Mahomes’ baseball background in the immediate aftermath of this pass, and while it’s a tired narrative it’s also clearly an influential part of his skill set. Linebacker Isaiah Irving (47) is the conflict player on the edge. He crashes inside when he sees the mesh point between Mahomes and Williams, and when the quarterback reads that he pulls the ball back. He takes two steps left as if he’s going to run on his own, forcing Irving in that direction. Then, because he can do whatever he wants and do it well, Mahomes slings it sidearm while grapevining and hits Bell for a solid gain. This is a post-snap RPO that the Bears had no chance to stop.
Full disclosure: The only reason this play is included in this week’s Report is to avoid making Mahomes seem like Pollyanna.
Mahomes tosses off his back foot, misses Watkins and the ball falls between a group of circling Bears. Going through every pass of the game, this is the only one in which Mahomes gave Chicago a chance to make a play on the ball. Granted, Mahomes was forced to backpedal because of unblocked pressure and Watkins slipping on his route. But we had to put something in this section.
The Chiefs have allowed single digits to their opponents four times this season, with three of those games coming in the last four weeks. During that stretch they’re allowing a meager 7.8 points per game. You could argue Kansas City has the best defense in the NFL right now. That’s hard to believe, but as of late it’s hard to dispute that.
One of the best and most important players during the Chiefs’ defensive renaissance has been Charvarius Ward, who put together another quality outing this weekend.
Bears coach Matt Nagy’s decisions for when to go for it late and when to not were poor in Week 16, matching the rest of his coaching this season. Even with how well Allen Robinson is playing for Chicago, it’s not smart to throw a fade to where Ward is in coverage. He breaks up the pass, the biggest highlight in another excellent all-around game.
While Ward (and others) has balled out in the secondary, Chris Jones keeps doing that along the defensive line.
And even on this play you can see the impact of the secondary and Steve Spagnuolo. Spags dials up a corner blitz with Bashaud Breeland, who comes in completely untouched. He disrupts Trubisky first and allows Jones to clean up for a sack. That’s not to discredit Jones, who uses his strength to overpower left guard James Daniels (68), then uses his speed to chase down an athletic quarterback. Sending pressure after bad quarterbacks is also smart. The Chiefs took advantage of that weakness and made the Bears pay.
Terrell Suggs was just signed last week and also chipped in for the defense this week.
He speeds around left tackle Charles Leno Jr. (72) and chases Trubisky down near the sideline, nearly sacking him before coming up just short. It was a still a net positive play for the defense, though, since Trubisky was trapped along the sideline and eventually forced out by Frank Clark. Suggs didn’t play much but was still a major contributor when he was on the field, which you have to be thrilled about if you’re a Chiefs fan.
This hardly even counts as a bad thing because Harrison Butker has been tremendous this season and this kick didn’t affect the result of the game one bit, but it needs mentioning anyway.
Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were thrilled that they witnessed another double doink at Soldier Field. That stadium is clearly cursed. Also, given his history, the joke on social media after this happened that Andy Reid told Butker to try this intentionally is funny because of its believability. All in all, it was such a fantastic game for Kansas City that there wasn’t much to complain about.