Patrick Mahomes can still make a run at NFL’s Most Valuable Player
By Matt Conner
Despite missing a couple games and being limited by injuries, Patrick Mahomes is still not out of the NFL’s MVP discussion.
The offseason conversation was long (and frankly, boring). Will Patrick Mahomes regress? Can he keep up the MVP numbers? Every media outlet offered up their predictions and projections of what the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback was expected to do in 2019, as if anyone had seen a player this blessed with skill surrounded by playmakers of this magnitude under a head coach with this creativity.
Last season, Mahomes had 50 touchdown passes and nearly 5,100 passing yards. He won the MVP by a considerable margin, picking up 41 of 50 votes in the end (the other 9 went to Drew Brees in some sort of “we feel for your MVP-less career” tribute). It was his first year starting, his first year seeing defenses, his first year developing starter chemistry. In short, the best is likely yet to come.
The Chiefs were witnessing another MVP campaign unfolding in the season’s early weeks. Despite playing on a hobbled ankle surrounded by 2nd and 3rd string players due to other injuries (and a porous defense learning to gel in a new system). Mahomes still moved the chains with ease. Before his injury, Mahomes was leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns while eliminating nearly all of his mistakes.
Then came the injury. The ankle wasn’t enough to keep him out but a dislocated kneecap was. Mahomes has missed consecutive games and is not quite official for Week 10 against the Titans (although it certainly looks positive). Fourteen games of stats is not as nice as 16 games, and the MVP conversation has continued in the last few weeks without him.
Right now, the NFL MVP would likely belong to Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey can also make a great argument. Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson also warrant serious consideration.
Despite the crowded room, however, Mahomes is not even close to being “out”. He’s a longshot now, given the number of other entrants who have remained healthy, but the Chiefs’ ability to light up a scoreboard keeps Mahomes in the conversation even when he’s out.
If Mahomes comes back and simply performs like he did before the knee injury, when he was still playing on a sore ankle and missing teammates like Tyreek Hill, Eric Fisher, Sammy Watkins and more, he’d finish with these totals in the final 7 games of the season (including this week).
- 172 completions
- 268 attempts
- 63.9% completion rate
- 2455 passing yards
- 16 touchdowns
- 1 interception
If he carried these numbers, they would combine with his previous statistics from the first half of the season to give him a season total of:
- 329 completions
- 509 attempts
- 64.6% completion rate
- 4,635 passing yards
- 31 touchdowns
- 2 interceptions
That’s a great season from any quarterback. Thirty-one touchdowns against only 2 interceptions are eye-opening totals. If the Chiefs kept winning, Mahomes would likely end up as a real finalist for the award.
That said, Mahomes is capable of much more than this. The averages for Mahomes for the first third or so of the season amounted to 2.3 passing touchdowns per game. Mahomes has put up more than 2 touchdowns in 15 of 26 games in his career (including postseason), so the “norm” for him is to come out even better than that.
If he comes out healthy, there’s no doubt that Mahomes could bolster these numbers considerably, especially against weaker competition. The Chiefs face a single team with a winning record from here until the postseason begins, and Mahomes will likely be more than ready to show what he can do after sitting on the sidelines. He’ll also have a full quiver of weapons instead of helping guys like Demarcus Robinson put up career numbers.
Basically, a below-average performance will still keep Mahomes in the conversation for MVP, but if he wants to outright steal it back from those who stepped up in his absence, he has all the tools and time to do that, too.