Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
As we roll into week 17 with most of the playoff positions locked down, especially in the AFC, it gets hard for pundits (and the wise guys in Vegas) to figure out what’s likely to happen come Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs have already let the world know that they’ll be resting key players in advance of their wildcard weekend matchup, now that they are locked into the number four seed. This means, among other things, that we’ll get to see a glimpse of the Chiefs’ future.
The Chiefs traded up to the tenth overall pick in last year’s draft to select Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. He’s a big, strong arm with some good elusiveness, but a tendency to push the ball too hard. Think about a young Brett Favre, but with slightly better judgement. Mahomes was actually very effective in the preseason, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions on 63% passing. That’s exactly the sort of clean, confident play you look for in a rookie during the games that don’t matter. Despite that start, and the Chief’s horrific midseason collapse, Mahomes has yet to throw a single meaningful pass in the NFL. It seems strange, and it is, except for the fact that that even as the Chiefs dropped seven of eight games through the middle of the season, they were still clinging to their divisional lead and Alex Smith theoretically gave them the best chance to win every week.
Chiefs’ fans who want to see the switch have pointed out that Mahomes strengths are probably the exact opposite of Smith’s. Where Smith functions best in a dink and dunk, chain-moving offense, Mahomes is more likely to create space with long throws and extend the play by rolling out of the pocket. Those sorts of explosive plays have been more frequent for Smith this year, but at his core, he’s a possession QB. Making the move to Mahomes will likely change all of that.
While Sunday’s tilt at the Broncos won’t have any effect on the Chief’s playoff scenario, it could well help decide which direction the franchise is headed. If Mahomes can keep his wits under pressure and play from the pocket, he very likely will have shown Andy Reid everything he needs to move forward with the young gunslinger next year.
Image source: twitter.com/chiefs
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.