Patrick Mahomes may not have thrown a touchdown in the Kansas City Chiefs win over the Denver Broncos but he still made his case to be the starter in 2018.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos 27-24 on Sunday. It was officially a game that meant nothing and yet for Chiefs fans it meant a great deal. First, it means that Kansas City finished the season 10-6 and on a four game winning streak heading into the playoffs. Morale wise, that’s great for the team but in terms of playoff standings the Chiefs were already locked into a fourth seed and will now host the Tennessee Titans next Saturday. However, all of that was secondary to the real story on Sunday, Patrick Mahomes first career start.
For the rest of the world Sunday was New Year’s Eve. For us Chiefs fans though, it was Patrick Mahomes Day. We have been waiting to see a highly touted, highly drafted, Chiefs prospect start a game for our favorite team for….. well for what feels like an eternity. Not only had the Chiefs not started a first round draft pick at quarterback since Todd Blackledge, but they hadn’t even won a game started by a player they drafted in decades. That all finally came to an end with the Chiefs win on Sunday. If that wasn’t enough drama on its own, the Chiefs almost let the game slip away when Andy Reid inexplicably put Tyler Bray in and the Chiefs saw their 14-point lead disappear in the fourth quarter faster than a rack of ribs at an Arrowhead tailgate.
That’s when Mahomes stepped back onto the field for one last drive. It was a thing of beauty as he drove the Chiefs 67 yards so that Harrison Butker could kick the game winning 30 yard field goal as time expired. Mahomes was four of five for 52 yards on that game winning drive and finished the game 22 of 35 for 284 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. That’s a 62.9% completion percentage and 8.3 yards per attempt.
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He didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He had a few really bad throws. One that was picked off early in the game and another deep ball on the final drive that was thrown up for grabs to Demetrius Harris in double coverage. So Patrick Mahomes’ first game was not perfect. However, he did win on the road against a Denver defense that played most of its starters for much of the game and he did it without K.C.’s best offensive weapons, a rag tag offensive line, and in below freezing temperatures.
That’s still not the reason most Chiefs fans are sold on Patrick Mahomes starting in 2018. That’s because of the special throws that Mahomes made on multiple occasions. His arm strength is off the charts. He keeps his eyes downfield at almost all times and with the flick of the wrist he can deliver a ball that maybe a handful of quarterbacks in the world can complete. If he could do what he did on Sunday without arguably the NFL’s best deep threat (Tyreek Hill) and the NFL’s most athletic tight end (Travis Kelce), AND without the NFL’s leading rusher (Kareem Hunt) for 95% of the game then what could he do next season when he has those weapons at his disposal and is working with them week in and week out in practice?
I love Alex Smith.
I believe in Alex Smith.
He has had his best season this year and if he plays like he did at both the beginning and end of the season in the playoffs then the Chiefs could absolutely make a run this year. If you are asking me if Alex Smith “deserves” to be the starter next year, I think the answer is absolutely yes, but that doesn’t mean its what the Chiefs should do. If they believe Mahomes is a special talent that is ready to produce now AND they can clear a ton of salary cap space to improve other spots on the roster AND they can get some draft picks for Smith I think Mahomes showed enough to make a case for himself as the starter in 2018.
I hope Alex Smith plays so well in the playoffs that it makes it an incredibly hard decision for the Chiefs. If they beat the Titans and then get bounced by New England or the Steelers in the second round, then I’m not sure that’s enough. Is an AFC title game appearance enough? A Super Bowl appearance? I don’t know the answer but I love that my favorite team has two great options at quarterback in a league where numerous teams can’t even find one.
On a personal note, for those that read my posts on a regular basis, I’ll be off the next couple of weeks due to the loss of my mother and some family responsibilities that have to take top priority right now, but I’ll be back after that and hopefully the Chiefs will still be alive and in the midst of an incredible playoff run. If that’s the case then it likely means that Alex Smith will have made a strong case for returning as the starter in 2018. If not, it looks like 2018 could officially be the start of the Patrick Mahomes era in Kansas City.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!