Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn’t one for throwing interceptions. Really, that logic applies for most successful quarterbacks of late, outside of turnover-prone Super Bowl champions Brett Favre and Eli Manning.
That’s why the football world was so collectively surprised when Mahomes uncharacteristically threw four interceptions through the 2021 season’s first four games. However, his dominance in a pivotal area also kept the Chiefs from falling into an ugly 1-3 or 0-4 start.
Patrick Mahomes is thriving on ‘quick passes’ this year
The days of judging players solely off the counting stats on the back of their trading card, whether we’re discussing batting average or passing touchdowns, are long gone. Only time will tell if sports radio callers ever accept the new reality.
On the Oct. 5 edition of NFL Live, ESPN shared a graphic depicting Mahomes’ success on “quick” passes — throws which occurred within 2.5 seconds of the play starting — through his first four games. He completed 92% of those attempts for 10 touchdowns and, most importantly, no nterceptions.
ESPN also shared that Mahomes also completed 14 of his 15 passes for five touchdowns against man coverage in a Week 4 victory over Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s good information for the rest of the teams on the Chiefs’ schedule … not that it might matter given that they’ll be facing arguably the league’s top quarterback.
“What are you supposed to do?” bemoaned NFL Live analyst Mina Kimes.
Mahomes’ success in that department could help him throw fewer interception
A large part of what has made Mahomes so magical and successful in the NFL is his ability to extend plays and make something out of nothing. We’ve watched him scramble around before connecting with Tyreek Hill on a 40-yard gain or firing a no-look pass to a running back before the defenders knock the 2018 NFL MVP to the ground.
Perhaps the time has come for head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to change things up for a few weeks.
On the one hand, you never want to fix what isn’t broken. Mahomes began Week 4 leading the NFL with 14 touchdown passes which puts him on pace for an NFL-record 60 touchdowns in the new 17-game season. He’s also on pace to end the year with a career-high 72.3% completion percentage, a marked improvement over last year’s 66.3%.
Still, Mahomes is throwing interceptions at a rate he hasn’t since 2018, his first year as a starting quarterback. He ended that year with 12 interceptions; the three-time Pro Bowler only had 15 interceptions across 35 total games (29 in the regular season and six in the playoffs).
If there is a way that the Chiefs can intentionally work more quick-pass plays and situations in the offense, Mahomes likely stands to throw fewer interceptions. It certainly helps that he has enough weapons, including potentially new arrival and former All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon, at his disposal.
By losing two of their first four games, the Chiefs could find themselves in a situation down the road where they can’t afford a late-season loss the way they could in years past. Avoiding turnovers seems like an ideal plan to ensure a 24-20 lead doesn’t turn into a 27-24 loss.
Mahomes still looks incredibly sharp despite his recent turnovers
Considering that Mahomes threw seven interceptions during a five-game span in 2018, one could argue we’re making a mountain out of a Tyreek — er, a molehill.
However, that was a young Mahomes who worked through the growing pains during his first season as a starter. We’re now discussing a quarterback who ranks among the NFL’s best and is already on pace to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mahomes is still shredding defenses and making life miserable for opposing coaching staff even when he looks human. The Eagles couldn’t have stopped him in Week 4 even if they sent Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins out onto the field with a retro jersey. Even a time machine and the All-Pro version of Dawkins from 2002 wouldn’t have done much to keep the Chiefs’ star quarterback from doing what he does best.
It’s Mahomes’ world, and we’re all just living in it. The interceptions are nothing more than a drizzle at this point, and in his reality, he’s proven he can change the weather.