Patrick Mahomes closes in on MVP with comeback win vs. Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs in a Week 11 win against Las Vegas. We have his full, weekly report card and analysis.

One of the best matchups of Week 11 was the Kansas City Chiefs’ 35-31 win against the Las Vegas Raiders. Both Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr performed at high levels to give an entertaining peek at where the NFL’s at with spread offenses taking over. Mahomes led a game-winning drive that started with 1:43 left on the clock, and it seemed inevitable he’d pull out a touchdown despite needing 75 yards.

Throughout the 2020 season we’ll be tracking and grading quarterback Patrick Mahomes as we start chronicling one of the most talented passers of all time. The mesmerizing star is extremely unique with his intelligence, playmaking, flair and incredible arm talents. Even at 25 years old, it’s clear we have the opportunity to see a full career of greatness.

Mahomes’ gaudy numbers seemed easy thanks to myriad Raiders injuries and lack of pass rush. Mahomes finished with 34 completions on 45 attempts for 348 yards, two scores and his second interception of the year. He wasn’t perfect but he overcame significant factors to earn the comeback win.

We’re looking beyond the stat sheet to analyze Mahomes this season. I’ve been charting catchable passes for the last six years for collegiate quarterback prospects, and the results have brought solid baselines in key areas of accuracy to project NFL success.

Mahomes benefitted from this, and the project is partially why I was so high on him as a prospect. We’ll be grading him on playmaking, decision-making, accuracy, efficiency, and awareness in addition to tracking his directional and situational passing effectiveness.

Playmaking: A

There’s a reason that Mahomes has jumped to a considerable favorite to win the MVP award by oddsmakers. It’s linked to his ability to make big plays happen consistently.

The Chiefs’ defense couldn’t stop Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense from replicating the same game plan that stole them a win in their previous matchup, and again it came down to Mahomes bailing out this team.

Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce worked their magic to pull out a win.

Mahomes was judicious in attacking this speedy Raiders secondary. Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen limited the offense to just three pass attempts beyond 20 yards, and neither of his tries outside of the numbers were catchable thanks to their positioning. This forced Mahomes to win on quick throws within structure and improvised plays.

Of course, Mahomes is masterful outside of the pocket. His ability to manipulate defenders was on full display on the game-winning score, when he rolled out of a clean pocket to draw in safety Jonathan Abrams and open the field for Kelce to be wide open.

The peppering of short throws throughout the game and the occasional Mahomes scramble or rollout likely attributed to Abrams’ decision to approach the quarterback. It was a terrible choice of course, but this felt like a calculated risk by Mahomes after teasing the defense all game before going over the top like this.

A whopping 11 attempts came outside the pocket, which was the same number as he had the last two games combined. It’s clear he found the Raiders’ zone to be influenced by his side-to-side movement, opening passing lanes to attack. He made the most of his chances.

Throwing cross-body like this is simply rare to see on a consistent basis. Mahomes was accurate on eight-of-11 throws on attempts made outside of the pocket. That level of execution, especially when several throws were as difficult as the one above, is why the Chiefs won this game.

Decision-Making: B+

Unfortunately Mahomes threw his second caught interception of the year, and this was his sixth interceptable throw total. Neither of those numbers should at all break his MVP campaign, but the decision to throw behind his target in the redzone led to an ugly interception.

Below you’ll see him spot throw to where he thought his man would sit for the ball.

Other than this one throw, Mahomes was on brand with his decision-making. All nine conversion-down throws went beyond the markers, a rare and incredible feat. And he protected the ball despite whipping so many short and intermediate passes against some clogged passing lanes.

A major theme of this season has been taking what’s available over forcing anything into a dangerous situation. He made that mistake against the Raiders in their lone loss of the season but not this week. That growth and self-correction is scary for defenses hoping Mahomes will make self-inflicted mistakes with some temptation.

Accuracy: A

Placement matters, and Mahomes was almost flawless this week. He had three throws where his receiver visibly adjusted to finish the catch but they weren’t unreasonable plays. Of his 45 attempts, nine were throwaways and he had two drops.

That means a whopping 30-of-36 attempts were catchable for Mahomes. Only three were 20 yards or deeper, and six were behind the line of scrimmage. Mahomes assaulted the short and intermediate routes for his production to stack.

He missed only one of his 24 throws between 0-10 yards, an unthinkably successful evening. I’ve never seen such efficiency since charting quarterbacks. While he is dinged for missing three intermediate attempts, including the interception, Mahomes had a special outing in terms of short-yardage passing.

Efficiency: B

His accuracy was nearly pristine, but his ability to make the aggressive decision without compromising the offense is notable. All seven of his third and fourth-down attempts from one to nine yards went beyond the markers and was accurate. That includes going six-for-six with less than four yards to go.

He missed his two attempts beyond 10 yards, and that hurts his grade a bit. Mahomes usually does well in these situations, throwing an accurate pass on eight-of-13 attempts beyond the markers entering this game.

He also missed his first two deep passes, and three of his five red zone attempts. It’s a limited sample size but these situational misses are far from the normal outcome we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. It was a strong game from Mahomes but not his most well-rounded.

Awareness: A

His second-straight and third game overall without a sack, Mahomes maneuvered around the pocket and hit tight passing lanes while being coldblooded all game long. He seemed completely in control of the Raiders’ defense for much of the game. He simply had to bide time to make big plays and keep the offense moving since the running game hasn’t been great.

The final drive captured his brilliance more than any point of the season. In about one minute of game-time, Mahomes had attacked the middle of the field without fear of losing too much time. He manufactured several open looks with perfect timing and accuracy, and never lost control of a stressful moment.

The 2020 NFL MVP Award is close to being locked up for the Chiefs star.

Published at Tue, 24 Nov 2020 15:17:59 +0000

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