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Mahomes Report: Week 3 vs. Baltimore

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.

After two weeks in a row of a Chiefs offense that was either scaled back or struggling to move the ball, we saw a Patrick Mahomes performance in Week 3 that felt like a wave of serenity washing over us. It was outstanding. It was as close to flawless as you can get.

It was vintage Mahomes.

QB1 torched the Ravens all night long this Monday, to the point that the Chiefs were able to completely mess around with their play calling for the whole third quarter and it meant nothing at all in the end.

There was no reason to doubt that we would see a classic Mahomes game soon, but this particular outing was truly special.

Comp.% Yards TD INT Rate
73.8 385 4 0 133.5

Mahomes Good

Mahomes threw four touchdown passes in the win over Baltimore, all of which are deserving of praise. Instead of ranking them, we’ll move chronologically, starting with an incredible design that got Anthony Sherman to the paint.

Obviously something strange is afoot when Tyreek Hill is lined up as the single back on the goal line. That creates obvious confusion for the defense, and when he breaks right he commands a ton of attention. Travis Kelce is also able to clear out the middle with his crossing route to the right, which leaves little resistance for Sherman. The play design manipulates the defense perfectly, but so does Mahomes looking right off his rollout. While he’s looking away, he dumps it underneath to The Sausage, who walks right in for six. This was a masterful goal line play featuring Bret Hart levels of excellent execution.

Next up, the second touchdowns pass from Mahomes, a dime with perfect touch to Hill.

Former Chief Marcus Peters didn’t have his finest game in Week 3. He doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Hill, so as long as the pass isn’t underthrown a massive play is imminent. Mahomes generates the only power he needs with upper-body torque, keeping him lower body mostly stationary while throwing. The pass is absolutely perfect, placed where only Hill can make a play on it and with touch that allows it to softly drop into his arms. This is as pretty as a deep ball can be.

Mahomes went deep again for his third touchdown strike, launching the ball to a wide-open Mecole Hardman.

ESPN’s Ryan Clark broke this play down perfectly on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, so we’ll let him explain why Hardman was all alone for the easy score.

As for the throw itself, it’s generally frowned upon to run backwards and away from the preferred play side to create time. Mahomes isn’t your run-of-the-mill quarterback, though, because he’s got the arm strength to make up for the negative momentum. This pass travels roughly 55 yards through the air, from the -40 to the +5, which is incredible given his pre-pass movement. The Chiefs’ speed and Mahomes’s arm strength are a perfect marriage, exemplified again here.

The final touchdown pass Mahomes threw was also the funniest, for multiple reasons.

Tackle-eligible touchdowns are often the result of the lineman being left all alone, since no defense would think to cover one (for obvious reasons). This throw is a little more challenging than these plays often are, with Malik Harrison (40) giving late effort to chase down Fisher, plus the veteran left tackle has to reposition himself while the throw is in the air. It doesn’t matter, though, because Mahomes makes sure this throw is lofted easily to the big man. Fading away, passing to a massive offensive lineman who has never caught a pass, jumping back on the pass and it’s still a flawless throw for the situation.

Classic Mahomes acrobatics returned in Week 3, starting with this second-quarter pass to Sammy Watkins to move the Chiefs into the red zone.

The Ravens struggled mightily to get to Mahomes throughout the game, with or without the blitz, but on this play they do force the quarterback to show some evasion in the pocket. He dodges the pressure, takes a small hop forward and puts the pass on the money. His pocket awareness is so sharp, something that was evident throughout Monday night, including his ability to know when to step up and avoid rushers at exactly the right moment here. He doesn’t waste any movement, which allows him to take advantage of small areas to throw from. This wasn’t the last time we’d see a jump pass in this game.

This next play was simply preposterous.

Mahomes makes plays sometimes that just make you laugh and shake your head. That’s a tendency that all the great ones share. Rodgers, Wilson, Mahomes; all three leave you in disbelief in certain moments. This is the first time we’ve seen the jump without a release, caused because he had to reconsider his initial read, but because of that he’s able to get Marlon Humphrey (44) to over-commit on his delayed corner blitz.  Safety Chuck Clark (36) also goes airborne, which opens up a gaping running lane for Mahomes. He takes advantage of the space while still watching the play unfold downfield. Because of that awareness, he can pass to Hardman for another big gain. The throw itself is special, too, with him passing against the grain with a sidearm release. It helped to have an edge rusher, Matthew Judon (99), as the closest defender to one of the fastest players in the NFL. How do you stop this?

In the fourth quarter, Mahomes pulled out the running sidearm throw once again.

It’s hard enough to throw accurately running to your dominant side. Now factor in the escape is to the left, the throw goes back to the right and is tossed like a pitch from Chad Bradford. While he’s evading pressure you can see Mahomes scanning his receivers to find the best option. It’s Watkins, who smartly worked back to the ball to create separation and help out his quarterback. This is the baseball background in action, combined with an innate ability to extend plays and never give up or panic.

Now, back to the jump pass.

There’s more escapism on display here, although the evasion is far less pronounced than in the previous three plays. You can thank his ability to throw accurately from an airborne base for that. He just needs to slide forward to avoid being hit by Tyus Bowser (54) on the blindside, which gives him enough time to get off the jump throw. Hill is completely uncovered over the middle, so a slightly high pass is no issue at all. Mahomes is a tremendous athlete, and this series of plays illustrates how he uses that athleticism to take advantage of different types of pressure.

Enough with the dancing in the pocket, let’s get to some bombs. We’ll start it off easy, with a long toss to Kelce over the middle in the second quarter.

Pre-snap motion is being used more this year than it was in 2019, and while it’s reached a point where some motion seems truly superfluous there are still ways to use it effectively. When Hill is roving all over the backfield before the snap it’s going to draw plenty of defensive eyeballs. It’s already a terrible idea to play zone against Mahomes and the Kansas City offense, but when you go into zone and cheat toward the short options it will almost always leave an easy deep shot open. Enter Kelce and this huge pickup.

Back in the first quarter, Hill was the recipient of a long ball down the far sideline.

Not a whole lot to break down here. Hill gets separation from his defender, so all Mahomes needs to do is cock back and fire on target to get a big gain. It’s a long throw from the near hash to the far sideline, yet he makes it look easy.

Let’s get Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the mix for the first time. He was the recipient of a beautiful touch pass from Mahomes early in the thid quarter.

Patrick Queen (48) has a ton of potential and is already an impressive young linebacker, but any time you get Edwards-Helaire matched up on a linebacker it’s a mismatch that favors the Chiefs. The route is a wheel from the backfield, and he takes advantage of an instant misplay by Queen. Mahomes recognizes the open target and unleashes another pass that he doesn’t need to step into. The accuracy is remarkable yet again. So many of these throws are in the best spot possible. The touch is flawless, allowing Edwards-Helaire to catch the ball in stride without any kind of adjustment.

Let’s wrap up the good stuff this week with some more heads-up runs from No. 15. First, a big gain in the fourth quarter to move the chains on third down.

Baltimore has a good defense, regardless of what happened in Week 3, but it learned the hard way that any amount of open space on any part of the field will get you killed against Mahomes. This time Mahomes is able to recognize a massive gap on the right side of the play. He never stops moving on his dropback, hitting the top of the drop and immediately taking off for the sideline. Once again, his top-notch awareness leads to a big play.

Finally, his rushing touchdown against the Ravens.

Safety DeShon Elliott (32) has to commit to Edwards-Helaire’s route into the end zone, which clears the running lane for Mahomes. By the time any defensive lineman gets off their block it’s a futile effort to chase QB1, making this touchdown even easier. At this point in his career, Mahomes is a bona fide dual-threat quarterback.

Mahomes Bad

To borrow a statistical concept from other outlets, Mahomes didn’t throw a single turnover-worthy pass in Week 3. It’s hard to say he played a perfect game, but he was undeniably close. For just the third time in his career he racked up five or more total touchdowns, and it was the first time since Week 2, 2019, that he threw for four scores.

It’s nearly impossible to find anything to critique out of his effort against the Ravens.

Non-Mahomes Good

The Chiefs’ defensive line was stellar in the win, especially Chris Jones.

Credit to Frank Clark for creating havoc early on this play, but Jones fights off his blocker and completely shuts down any chance for Lamar Jackson to attempt a miracle along the sideline. He is freakishly fast for his size.

Jones made Jackson miserable all night long.

The latest DVOA numbers list Baltimore as one of the worst pass-blocking teams in the NFL, and ESPN’s pass block win rate metric isn’t particularly kind to the Ravens, either. Jones took advantage of a sub-par line again here, beating tackle Ronnie Stanley (79), a quality player, on his inside shoulder and attacking the ball.

The Ravens were trying to fight back late in the game, but the Chiefs’ pass rush completely bottled up the reigning MVP to kill that threat.

On the first of back-to-back sacks late in the fourth quarter, Clark and Taco Charlton cut off the escape routes on a deep drop by Jackson, and Ben Niemann comes in late to clean up for the sack. If there are defenders in the backfield that quickly, the most dynamic part of Jackson’s game is neutralized.

It was more of the same on the next play.

Clark and Charlton were at it again, beating the breaks off their offensive line matchups to blow up the play in the backfield. Stanley gets beaten badly again, while Orlando Brown Jr. (78) simply misses his assignment and lets Charlton run free. These sacks were too easy and they effectively ended the game.

Non-Mahomes Bad

When you’re fighting for playing time, you can’t commit turnovers in big moments. Take note, Darwin Thompson.

The Chiefs’ running back depth isn’t particularly inspiring behind Edwards-Helaire, and this fumble came in the third quarter when the Ravens were still alive. Before Kansas City put the game on ice, Twitter lit up with references to LeSean McCoy’s fumble against Indianapolis last year. It didn’t end up swinging the game, but it was a tough mistake by the second-year running back anyway.

Speaking of depth, Kansas City’s secondary took suffered a blow when L’Jarius Sneed got dinged up.

You can’t help but applaud the effort, especially when Sneed already has two interceptions on the season. But with Charvarius Ward playing with an injured hand and Bashaud Breeland out another week due to suspension, the Chiefs can’t afford to lose Sneed.

Finally, simply, Harrison Butker: You can’t dress like this one week and then come out and miss multiple kicks the next week.

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