Patrick Mahomes has enjoyed an explosive start to his NFL career. Coming out of Texas Tech, most draft analysts did not hold him in high regards. However, he has led the Kansas City Chiefs to back to back home AFC Championship Game appearances. And now, Mahomes has put his team back in the Super Bowl game for the first time in 50 years.
But the constant knock on him, is that he is only a better quarterback because of the weapons around him. Not very many people are denying him of his talent. Yet, some believe the receivers and coaching has brought him to the heights he has already achieved.
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Let’s put more perspective into the Chiefs offensive weapons. Mahomes’ weapons were not all highly regarded prospects, just like him. Sammy Watkins is a former first round pick. Unfortunately, he has dealt with injuries and he is not regarded as one of the premier receivers in the NFL. Others like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson were all mid to late round draft picks. The bottom line, is that Kansas City has drafted well for what they excel at. Additionally, the coaching has resulted in steady growth for guys like Hill and Kelce, specifically.
Tyreek Hill was not the diverse route runner entering the league, that he is now. He wants to be known more than just being a speed demon. Wide receivers coach Greg Lewis has done a fine job in helping to develop Hill’s hands, routes and releases over the last three years.
Meanwhile, Kelce has provided a new wrinkle to how the tight end position is played. He is such a security blanket for Mahomes in the passing game. It has become evident Mahomes can tell what Kelce is even going to do before he does it. This season, the tight end recorded 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth consecutive campaign.
Anything Can Happen
Alex Smith was part of the franchise turning point during his time in Kansas City. Though, there was a ceiling on his game and the offense in general. Even with Andy Reid and the weapons he had around him, Smith was tentative under pressure or in big moments. It was important for Smith to have a bell cow back in his system. Having someone like Kareem Hunt or Jamaal Charles, allowed Smith to settle for limited chances down the field. The Chiefs offense with Smith was nifty, but they did not particularly scare defenses.
On the other hand, Mahomes uplifted the Chiefs in clutch moments from the jump when he became the starting quarterback. We have seen him make any play or conversion seem possible on 3rd and longs. Additionally, there are a plethora of ways in which Mahomes can beat you. He can extend plays and throw on the run, make throws off of abnormal stances and flat out run past you. No lead is ever safe, as we have seen in the playoffs. When Mahomes starts rolling, the Chiefs offense is like a bush fire. They are difficult to contain or slow down.
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We touched briefly on the coaching of the wide receivers earlier. It is important to note, how tricky developing receivers and pass catchers can become. Look at some of the greatest quarterbacks currently around the NFL. Tom Brady has longed for a deep, mature set of weapons for a while now. This lack of consistency on the outside has been there for too long. Moreover, the Patriots offense recently saw one of their worst offensive seasons, due in part to the lack of weapons.
Other quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers really only have one reliable target, in Michael Thomas and Davante Adams respectively. Those two receivers are both incredible players, and they have continued to pull off one tremendous feat after another.
It has been nearly a decade or more, since these teams have seen sustained success at the receiver position. The Minnesota Vikings, just like the Chiefs, have done a nice job of finding talent when others did not take a chance on certain players. Minnesota’s coaches believed in guys like Adam Thielen and Bisi Johnson. They knew they could fit in with their offense. Furthermore, Stefon Diggs has become one of the best route runners in the NFL, while being tricky to cover. Kansas City’s Lewis has uplifted the Chiefs receivers to reaching their full potential.
Give It A Try
When Mahomes takes chances, it shows you can do anything you imagine from the quarterback position. Defenders and defensive coordinators alike, are going to have to think hard in order to attempt to stop him in the future. This opposing defense in the Super Bowl will pose a tough test. But, think of what Mahomes did to them last year. He was bogging down defensive players with some simple throws and unforeseen plays. He can do it again on Sunday.
There is now one last hoop Mahomes will have to jump through, in order to win a championship. A test is exactly what the San Francisco 49ers defense presents. They have speed at all three levels. San Fran rarely gives up explosive plays, or gets beat over the top. There is just dudes everywhere. What is the best recipe for defeating Mahomes? Honestly, it is just playing fundamentally sound, while limiting chunk plays.
If Mahomes can continue to take what is given to him, the Chiefs will be just fine. Being willing to settle for check down passes, and then eventually taking your shot could be exactly what him and the offense will need to accomplish.
The fact that Mahomes is the single biggest player the 49ers defense will be worried about helps to clarify how lazy this narrative is. The best team, not the best player, usually wins the Super Bowl. But overall, it takes a perfect day to completely slow down the greatness of Mahomes. You have to wonder if some of these naysayers are even realizing what all the Chiefs quarterback does on each play or pass attempt. Enjoy Mahomes early success, even if it is just the beginning.
Be on the lookout for more Super Bowl or Chiefs coverage to end the week. Check out our latest episodes of the FPC Chiefs Podcast, as well. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.