Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is rewriting the history books. The former first-round pick of the 2017 NFL draft threw his 10th touchdown of the year Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, moving ahead of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Charley Johnson for most touchdowns through the first two games of the season. His six touchdowns against Pittsburgh was a franchise record and made Mahomes the youngest player in NFL history with a six-touchdown game on his resume. He’s only the third quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes in each of the first two games of a season; Drew Bledsoe (1997 New England Patriots) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers) are the others.
“I think it just speaks to the weapons that we have on offense,” Mahomes told Matt McMullen of chiefs.com. “They can’t stop everybody, so for me, it’s just about getting it to the guy that has the man-to-man coverage or that has the open area. Those guys were getting open today, and the offensive line was blocking great, so it made my job a lot easier.”
Mahomes’ 2018 season started with four touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers, a stout defense with star players all over the roster. Their secondary was ranked No. 2 by Pro Football Focus before the season — no wallflower when it comes to making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks — and yet Mahomes still found a way to pick apart the Chargers’ vaunted secondary. Receiver Tyreek Hill caught a pass against six different defenders, including four catches gaining at least 20 yards, and Sammy Watkins was 3 for 4 against three different defensive backs. Mahomes had a successful throw against all eight of the Chargers players in coverage and he completed 3 of 6 deep passes — those traveling at least 20 yards in the air — for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers also had the third-best pass rush heading into the season and Mahomes wasn’t fazed: He completed 5 of 12 for 147 yards and a touchdown under pressure with just one pass-rushing snap resulting in a sack. The absence of Joey Bosa (bruised bone in his left foot) certainly changes the complexion of that unit but it still features defensive end Melvin Ingram, one of the best edge rushers in the game.
A week later, Mahomes completed 5 of 7 throws for 82 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh’s pass pressure in addition to 10 of 14 for 135 yards and three touchdowns when the Steelers blitzed. His passer rating under pressure is 131.2, and while it is unlikely he maintains that lofty level for an entire season it’s a great sign that Mahomes can remain poised in the pocket.
“They tried blitzing and a couple things to try to stop us, but Pat saw it and was able to move [the ball],” said Head Coach Andy Reid.
He can also evade capture. According to the game charters at Pro Football Focus, Mahomes has been pressured on more than a third of his drop backs this season (39 percent, tied for third-most in the NFL) yet has been sacked only three times, tied for the third lowest rate in the league (9 percent). His passer rating under pressure (132.9) is also the third-highest among qualified passers.
|2018 Weeks 1 and 2||Drop-backs||Att||Comp||Comp%||Yds||Yds / Att||TD||INT||Passer Rating|
|Plays under pressure||23||19||10||52.6||229||12.1||2||0||131.2|
|When not blitzed||41||38||28||73.7||449||11.8||7||0||152.3|
If Mahomes keeps this up it’s hard to see anyone but the Chiefs winning the AFC. According to ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating, Mahomes is the second-most valuable passer in the league after Fitzpatrick, who could be out of a job once last year’s starting quarterback for the Bucs, Jameis Winston, returns from suspension in Week 4. Mahomes has also earned a 92 QBR, meaning his performance would be good enough to win a game 92 percent of the time, which translates to a 15-1 season.
He’s even helped the passing offense exceed expectations, scoring 31 more points than expected once you factor in the down, distance and field position of each passing attempt — over the past decade, only 13 other teams have exceeded expectations by more points via the pass than the Chiefs.
“I see Pat doing this all season long,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “He’s got the confidence. As long as we give him time and get open as wideouts and tight ends and running backs, he’s going to be able to get the best out of everyone.”