Patrick Mahomes is essentially out of the race for NFL MVP
By Matt Conner
For those hoping that the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback could win consecutive MVP awards, injuries were simply too much for Patrick Mahomes to overcome.
It turns out that regression is a thing and even Patrick Mahomes is subject to it.
That’s nothing personal against Mahomes. One season after the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback threw 50 touchdown passes and eclipsed 5,000 passing yards, we’ve simply learned one thing: MVP level numbers are actually hard to sustain. Who knew?
What we didn’t realize way back then (a whole 12 months ago) was just how many things went right for the Chiefs in Mahomes first full season under center. For one, Mahomes himself stayed healthy. Secondly, his supporting cast stayed healthy. Finally, the competition level was mixed, allowing for some tough games in primetime to showcase his skills alongside a few contests in which the Chiefs were simply allowed to dominate from the first to last quarter.
The end result was a penalty away from a Super Bowl appearance and Mahomes hoisting his first of likely multiple Most Valuable Player awards.
Alas it will happen for him in the future, but this year finally feels out of reach.
At this point, Mahomes is off on last year’s touchdown total by 29—an insane drop from the outside looking in. Mahomes has thrown for over 3,200 yards and could easily cross the 4K mark by season’s end, but he’s not going to rack up the touchdowns fast enough in any last-gasp effort to overwhelm the other MVP contenders.
Unfortunately for Mahomes, injuries have taken their toll in his sophomore season as a starter. Not only did Mahomes miss two games due to a dislocated kneecap, but the ones he did play in the first half of the year were on a sore ankle he rolled early in Week 1. In other words from the very beginning of the season, he was damaged goods. Most recently, he’s had x-rays and other tests done on an injury to his throwing hand.
From there, his teammates have only added to the injured list. At one point, Mahomes was playing in front of three substitutes as both guards, Andrew Wylie and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and the Chiefs left tackle, Eric Fisher, all missed considerable time. Fisher himself missed over half the season with a groin injury that required surgery heading into Week 2.
Wait, we forgot to mention that Mahomes most dangerous target, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, also suffered a clavicle injury that kept him out the first month or more of the season. There’s also been games missed Damien Williams and Darrel Williams. Chris Jones, Kendall Fuller, Mo Claiborne, Rashad Fenton, Xavier Williams, and Breeland Speaks have all hurt on the defensive side. When it comes to the ailing, it’s been a long season in K.C.
Beyond just the injuries around him, the Chiefs have also played a murderer’s row of a schedule. The AFC West is never a cakewalk and rivals always gear up to play their best against the Chiefs. But the Chiefs also hosted two playoff teams from the NFC North at Arrowhead with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. They also played the three other top teams in the AFC during the regular season: the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, and Houston Texans.
The Tennessee Titans, who always seem to have the Chiefs number, gave them a loss, as did the Indianapolis Colts. Overall the Chiefs played very few gimmes on the schedule (Jaguars and Lions). There are no Giants or Jets, no Bengals or Redskins, no Cardinals or Falcons.
The final wrinkle in all of this is that the Chiefs might actually be a better team in 2019 than they were last season. While special teams has taken a step back and the offense looks dangerous yet inconsistent, the defense is a major step forward and has even helped close out games in which the offense sputtered toward the end. Part of the reason Mahomes doesn’t have the numbers is because the Chiefs haven’t needed him to have the numbers.
In short, a guy can’t play the role of hero if a cape is not needed.
Put all of that together and you have a year in which the Super Bowl dream remains very much alive even as Mahomes chances of a second straight MVP win is likely over. At season’s end, it will likely be Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson or Michael Thomas holding up that trophy and thanking his family and friends and teammates for all their efforts. That’s fine.
These Chiefs have traded the exhilarating numbers for a better overall balance and a test of their depth and toughness. Here’s hoping those lessons end up with a bigger and better trophy at the end.