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Mahomes Report: Week 4 vs. New England

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.

The Kansas City Chiefs won in Week 4, which is obviously the most important part of the game. They did it, however, in a peculiar way in relation to their lofty standards.

Frankly, a large portion of the rescheduled Monday night game was boring. Uncreative play calling and shockingly sloppy throws by Patrick Mahomes made the contest feel almost strange, as if the Chiefs either weren’t ready or didn’t care about facing the short-handed Patriots.

Mahomes’s numbers were solid in the victory, although the eye test tells us that it wasn’t one of his finest games. His performance did feature a few absolute lasers, though, which made it worthwhile television.

Comp.% Yards TD INT Rate
65.5 236 2 0 113.6

Mahomes Good

Mahomes did throw a pair of touchdowns in the win, although both were the result of great design mixed with impeccable speed, not anything particularly special about QB1’s arm.

This is maybe the best-designed fly sweep of the Mahomes era for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Sending DeMarcus Robinson and Kelechi Osemele to the play side as blockers for Tyreek Hill helps guarantee this touchdown. It’s especially important since the Patriots do a solid job of keeping contain along the outside instead of all crashing down out of the play. It counts as a touchdown pass for Mahomes, and the misdirection is a nice touch, but three other players get the credit here.

It was more of the same on touchdown No. 2.

The element of misdirection is key again here, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire attracting attention from defensive tackle Deatrich Wise (91) to the left while the ball is actually traveling right. That’s one fewer body for Mecole Hardman to deal with as he races to the end zone. A lot of other guys did the dirty work to make sure Mahomes got credit for two touchdown passes.

As always, #FreeMecole.

We don’t want to give off the impression that Mahomes didn’t do any good work this week, because he certainly did. This win featured more lasers than we’ve seen the rest of the season up until now, including this early one to Hill.

Mahomes had plenty of time to throw on this play and on many throughout the evening, which helped deep shots such as this one develop. Hill is running a deep over out of the left slot, going over the top of Travis Kelce’s route over the middle. You can see Mahomes scan his options underneath on the left before settling on the deep shot to Hill. He’s got all day to throw thanks to the combination of the protection and his deep drop, so he can monitor the whole field and pick on the best option. Hill’s speed gets him separation from Jonathan Jones (31), and the dart of a throw gets the ball to the right spot before the receiver flirts with disaster along the sideline and Kansas City gains 22 yards.

Later in the first quarter, No. 15 would throw another crisp pass deep down the field to Kelce.

Once again the protection is good, with Mahomes only having to shift slightly left after hitting the top of his deep drop. The Patriots give the Chiefs a zone look, and thanks to his speed Kelce is able to beat rookie safety Kyle Dugger (35) and settle in a soft spot in the secondary. Mahomes recognizes Kelce as his primary read after the play fake, waits for him to settle and then unleashes this rope of a throw. There’s no chance for Dugger to make up ground on Kelce with the throw traveling with this much velocity.

Kelce was the top deep threat in this win for the Chiefs, especially after catching a deep pass that turned into a 45-yard gain and swung momentum in favor of the Kansas City offense.

The tight end is picking on second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams (33) with his release here, using a shake to get off cleanly and get open on a deep corner. Mahomes is well-protected once again, so he can wait in the pocket for Kelce to break on his route. The precision is what stands out about this pass, with the ball ending up exactly where Kelce can reach up, haul it in and gain YAC without breaking his stride one bit. If this throw is any less accurate, even if catchable, it probably results in Williams slowing down Kelce. Instead, a perfectly aimed ball leads to a 45-yard pickup.

Let’s get back to Hardman, who not only caught a touchdown pass but also showed off more development as a route runner and in his relationship with Mahomes.

This is a simple timing route, with a comeback along the near sideline. It’s nothing complex, and the throw is something most quarterbacks should be able to make. However, it shows that Hardman is coming along at least somewhat in the offense because he was used as more than either just a fly sweep recipient or deep threat. Also, talk about practice makes perfect: This throw is to Hardman’s side closest to the sideline, aka the part of his body where it’s least likely to be picked off by a cornerback who recognizes the play and jumps the pass. Hardman had space to make the catch cleanly, but in a more adverse environment that would have been a well-shielded throw by Mahomes.

Next up, a first-quarter play that felt somewhat similar to a scoring play back in Week 2.

It’s not wholly identical, but the play that comes to mind is the Chiefs’ two-point conversion against the Chargers in the fourth quarter of Week 2. Once again Mahomes takes all significant defenders with him to the right boundary. Similarly to the aforementioned pass against the Chargers, he recognizes a receiver against the grain who’s been abandoned by the defense. This time around the receiver is Hill, who camped out on the numbers as his quarterback kept rolling out to the right as far as he could go. A play like this drives a defense crazy, because you need to commit to stopping Mahomes from either running or firing a throw down the sideline, but by leaving Hill alone it opens the door for a massive gain like this one. Good recognition by Mahomes to see the open man and get him the ball.

Speaking of Mahomes running, he had the Chiefs’ longest rush of the day on Monday.

It’s just another example of his excellent awareness. He never wastes time, which helps make most of his decisions look good. If he lingers around in the pocket while everyone is covered deep, the pressure could eventually get to him or he may be left with a throwaway being his only option. Instead, but making a split decision at the right time Mahomes takes advantage of a gaping patch of grass and his speed to pick up 19 yards and a crucial first down late in the fourth quarter.

Non-Mahomes

Mahomes deserves credit for almost always showing excellent awareness and decision making. However, he needs to get blame when those elements of his game are lacking, too.

He nearly threw three interceptions on Monday, and he was bailed out each time but either a drop or referee incompetence. The first such opportunity came in the first quarter.

Maybe it’s a miscommunication with his target, but this is a bad miss nonetheless. There are two defensive backs in the area and it’s thrown to the outside when his receiver his inside leverage. Again, it’s fair to say that the route may have been run improperly and it was supposed to be an outward-breaking route, but any time your pass hits a defender square in the hands it’s a big mistake. Mahomes got lucky here.

He would again in the fourth quarter when he chucked a deep ball into a sea of Patriots.

This pass in particular felt like first-year starter Mahomes versus the Patriots, one of those moments when he would try to make something happen when there was clearly no way anything positive could turn occur. It just feels like a lazy decision, which is a shocking rarity for a quarterback with elite, refined decision-making skills. But lobbing a pass when the defense has the numbers advantage is rough to see. Just throw it away or tuck and run for a short gain. Another missed opportunity by the Patriots defense to make Mahomes pay.

Then there was the ultimate referee bail out.

You can revel in the fact that the Chiefs got A. a beneficial call against the Patriots for once, and B. the benefit of the doubt on a shady forward progress call, but call a spade a spade: This should have been a turnover. Eric Fisher gets beaten off the edge and no quarterback can avoid every potential sack, but he usually shows more alert awareness when pressure caves in the pocket. Also, why would you try to force the ball out here? Even Superman has Kryptonite. You can’t make a miracle happen on every single play. Sometimes, you need to just eat the ball.

Non-Mahomes Good

The Chiefs played well defensively in the win, including forcing four turnovers, a highly unusual scene for a Patriots team. Before we get there, though, let’s discuss a huge night for Frank Clark.

Clark was a beast all night long, and this was something of a reward for him because there’s no tellingwhat Brian Hoyer was thinking to give away a sack like this. But even beyond this gong show of a play, Clark was tenacious off the edge throughout Monday night. He was getting pressure, making plays on the outside and doing more than enough to make up for not having Chris Jones active.

Hoyer was intercepted once last night and his replacement, Jarrett Stidham, was picked off twice. We’ll start with Stidham’s first interception, one of the most exciting plays of the night.

In defense of the former Auburn quarterback, this interception is not on him. Julian Edelman (11) looked off his game the whole night, including multiple drops, like this one that bounced right off his hands to Tyrann Mathieu. This is another play that looks so foreign when watching New England, but Mathieur will happily take his second-career pick-six.

Rashad Fenton also played well for most of the night for Kansas City, including an interception on the last meaningful play of the game.

Fenton’s development isn’t just a nice thing to see, it’s vital for the Chiefs secondary given how thin their depth is right now. After breaking out on the scene last year as a pleasant surprise at slot corner, he’s showed quality coverage and ball skills on the outside early this year. He misplayed a fade to New England’s N’Keal Harry for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but otherwise looked good. Here he does a good job reading the ball in the air, undercutting it and sealing the game.

The first interception of the game belonged to Juan Thornhill on a bad throw from Hoyer.

During the TV broadcast, Tony Romo of CBS said this is a play the Patriots loved to run with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for years. Hoyer clearly isn’t Brady, and the Chiefs obviously had this play read like a book. That’s where playing the same team over and over comes in handy. Nice play by Thornhill to get up and snatch the ball out of the air.

Finally, we go back to the pass rush and see Taco Charlton continue to make plays.

Charlton was an exciting signing during the offseason, given that he needed to be a productive, max-effort player to keep his career going beyond this year. Now, in the last two games he’s contributed to crucial late-game sacks of Lamar Jackson in Baltimore and clowned New England right tackle Justin Herron (75) to rack up another sack here. His physical gifts are obvious, most notably his speed on this play. Herron is already back on his heels with Charlton speed rushing, but the hop move clearly catches the rookie lineman off-guard and he isn’t quick enough to wash Taco out of the play.

Non-Mahomes Bad

The Chiefs have done a good job of not turning the ball over this year, with just one giveaway entering Week 4, but in a game where points are at a premium you can’t give the ball away when you’re in scoring range.

Kansas City took over offensively immediately after a New England turnover, then Sammy Watkins gives the ball away. If you’re a player who is prone to disappearing for long stretches and wants to stay on the field and in the action more, you need better ball security in this part of the field.

Lastly, Harrison Butker missed an extra point again this week, his third week in a row missing a point after. He is still one of the best kickers in the NFL, and his right leg saved the Chiefs two weeks back, but that’s a worrying trend. In a closer game against a better team, you can’t afford those mistakes.

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