By: Jack Johnson
It hasn’t been easy in Year 4 as a starter for Patrick Mahomes. Though he’s on pace to throw over 30 touchdowns, he’s only three interceptions away from a career-high with eight games to go. Mahomes is also posting career-lows in yards per game (281.6), completion percentage (65.2), QBR (54.3) and yards per attempt (7.0). Nonetheless, Kansas City is 5-4 with a chance to grab sole possession of first place in the AFC West on Sunday. However, of the numbers we’ve seen so far, what can we make of them?
Yards per attempt (7.0)
This isn’t the Chiefs offense of old and it doesn’t take a genius to know that. They’re 15th in scoring, seventh in yards per game and sixth in passing. The deep balls and open receivers aren’t coming with such ease anymore. Part of that reason is due to defenses taking Mahomes’s first read away. Under Andy Reid, the RPO (run-pass-option) has been a staple point in moving the ball offensively. Credit to opposing defenses, as they’ve been able to take away that first read on passing plays.
In Sunday’s win over Green Bay, the Chiefs’ offense averaged just 3.8 yards per play. Against the Giants, they averaged only 4.8. With the lack of No. 2 wide receiver, those numbers won’t drastically change week by week. What can change or adapt is the offensive game plan. As Albert Einstein once said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Pressure percentage (21.3%)
In 2019 alone, Mahomes was hit 34 times while passing the ball. Through nine games this season, he’s already been hit the same amount of times. Not all of this falls on the offensive line. On a handful of occasions, Mahomes has bailed on a clean pocket or dropped back 15 yards when throwing the ball. For a tackle, such as Orlando Brown or Lucas Niang, blocking an edge rusher that far back in the pocket is a difficult task.
Mahomes is an innovator. He’s become who he is with his gunslinging abilities, throws on the run and creating plays that don’t appear to be there. However, when things aren’t going your way, it can hurt you — hence the 10 interceptions. Still, you don’t handicap that aspect of his game. The majority comes down to trusting the offensive line to keep you clean. With three of the five starters being rookies, that’s going to take time.
Passing attempts (362)
Mahomes leads the NFL in attempts by 19. Is Kansas City a passing offense? Yes. Is it effective when the quarterback is asked to throw over 40 times a game? No. In Mahomes’s best game this season at Philadelphia, he also had the least amount of attempts (30). When the Chiefs hosted Buffalo, he posted his lowest quarterback rating of the season (70.9). It was also the game he threw a season-high 54 times.
Mahomes is elite at what he does, but he is human. He can’t always be the one to get the offense out of jams. When you establish the running game and limit turnovers, you’re not asking your quarterback to be perfect. In the four losses this season, Kansas City has asked Mahomes to be Superman. Once you take the pressure off his shoulders, the offense can play with more comfort and confidence. If or when that happens, the league will be on notice.