Pro Football Focus says Patrick Mahomes is a product of Andy Reid’s system
One week after ranking Patrick Mahomes the 6th best quarterback in football, Pro Football Focus doubled down by calling him a “system quarterback.”
Pro Football Focus player rankings and grades have a way of causing a stir in fan bases across the National Football League. And their current ranking of the league’s reigning MVP and current MVP frontrunner is no different.
Last week, PFF made waves with the release of their NFL quarterback rankings, in which they had Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes ranked 6th overall. After a week of pushback from Chiefs fans and NFL analysts across the country, PFF decided to double down on their claim that Mahomes was far from the league’s best.
On Monday, PFF analysts asserted that not only is the Chiefs young gunslinger not the league’s best, but that in fact he is merely a product of the talent around him and the system put in place by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
"“We’re gonna catch a lot of flack for this, but he’s not even the highest-rated quarterback in the NFL currently for us. Now that’s play-by-play grade looking at every single throw, and I think that’s almost the scary thing about this Chiefs offense is the fact that he’s left plays on the field.“I think we need to talk more about how the Chiefs offense has been historic, not how Mahomes himself has been historic, because he had over 100 more yards than any other quarterback in the NFL to receivers who have at least a step of separation. This offense is just scheming guys open, guys are getting open, at a higher rate than we’ve just ever seen in our 10-plus years of charting this.”"
In response, Bob Fescoe, host of ‘Fescoe in the Morning’ on 610 Sports Radio, even dubbed PFF the ‘Semi-Pro Football Out-of-Focus’.
Their main argument was relatively basic and surface level (obviously): that Mahomes’ success is a result of Reid’s play calling and his receivers’ ability to get open.
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: Mahomes is a generational talent and we may have never seen another quarterback as talented who has ascended so quickly in his NFL progression. Full stop.
Let’s talk about the easy part first, statistics. Mahomes leads the NFL passing yards through four weeks by 185 yards. That’s the same amount as the difference between number two on the list (Matt Ryan) and number nine (Russell Wilson). Mahomes is tied for the lead in touchdown passes with 10, but has coupled that with throwing zero interceptions. He is the only quarterback in the top 7 across the NFL with no picks in 2019. Mahomes is second in the league in total QBR, behind Dallas’ Dak Prescott. He leads the league in yards per game, yards per completion, yards per pass, and sacks taken (amongst players who have started four games).
But, the asinine nature of PFF’s conclusion transcends far beyond the numbers.
Andy Reid’s System
Andy Reid has been using this “system” for his entire head coaching career. Patrick Mahomes MVP season was the single greatest statistical season of any quarterback Reid has ever coached. Reid has been using this system in Kansas City since 2013. Mahomes’ 2018 season was the best of any year in KC prior to it.
Reid deployed this same “system” for multiple years with Alex Smith and roughly the same weapons that Mahomes has at his disposal: the offensive line, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and some solid contributors at wideout. However, it could easily be argued that Smith actually had better weapons at the running back position than what Mahomes has had since week 11 of the last year. We thought the cutting of Kareem Hunt would have negatively impacted Mahomes’ production, yet it has not.
Patrick Mahomes’ Weapons
PFF seems to be the only coalition that believes that his the Chiefs skill position players make Patrick Mahomes better, rather than the other way around.
Mahomes is currently playing without: his starting left tackle (Eric Fisher), starting running back (Damien Wiliams), and number one wide receiver (Tyreek Hill). There is no other quarterback in football who is either dealing with the same holes in their lineup (or who could deal with those injuries) while still maintaining elite level performance.
Even while missing those players for half (or more) of the season thus far, multiple NFL analysts believe that Mahomes is still the MVP frontrunner in 2019, like Peter Schrager of The Sporting News. Danny Heifitz of The Ringer, also agrees.
Williams obviously saw the best stretch of his career and earned a contract extension in weeks 11 through the AFC Championship. LeSean McCoy appears to be experiencing a bit of a career resurgence. Albert Wilson earned a big contract from the Miami Dolphins (how’s that “weapon who made Mahomes better” working on on South Beach?). Hill earned a massive contract extension. Demarcus Robinson is experiencing the best season of his career and will likely be the next Wilson, in line for a big extension this offseason. And Sammy Watkins, though inconsistent, has already had the best game of his career in Week One of 2019. All of these wide receivers have played with other quarterbacks and failed to make any of them better, let alone elite.
The Bottom Line
It is absurd and indefensible for an NFL think-tank like Pro Football Focus to assert and then defend the position that Mahomes could be replaced by a dozen other quarterbacks in the league. It is more difficult to understand the conclusion that the weapons on the team are making Mahomes look better than he really is.
Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the National Football League, putting together the best start to a career of any quarterback in history. Now, he is incredibly fortunate to play with a head coach who: gave him a chance to grow in his first year, schemes great offensive gameplans, and understands how to exploit his players’ strengths.
Even with that, he is definitely not a system quarterback.