One anonymous defensive coach described Patrick Mahomes as a streetball QB and said he was heavily reliant on his first read. Here is why that isn’t true.
In the world of sports, nothing quite sparks controversy as much as a hot take about a popular figure. Some of the latest examples came this week in NFL circles when an anonymous NFL defensive coordinator said that he doesn’t believe “Lamar Jackson will ever be a 1 as a QB”.
Shortly thereafter, another defensive play caller decided to chime in by calling Patrick Mahomes a one-read quarterback:
That’s obviously harsh and controversial but it’s also objectively wrong. Why is it wrong? It’s not an accurate statement for several reasons. First, you don’t win almost 80% of your starts in the NFL across several seasons if you cannot read defenses. Second, you don’t win multiple conference championships and a Super Bowl if you’re that reliant on your first read.
Let’s back this up with some data. According to Pro Football Focus, since becoming the Chiefs’ full-time starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes has an elite 91.0 PFF grade, with 4,498 passing yards and 39 passing touchdowns on throws past his first read, all three of which are first in the entire NFL.
Since the start of 2018, according to PFF ($), Mahomes is 729 of 1,342 for 11,621 yards and an 87-35 TD-INT ratio for a passer rating of 94.2 after 2.5 seconds in the pocket. Prior to 2021, his passer rating in those situations was 98.0. From 2018 through 2020, Mahomes was 1st, 2nd, and 4th, respectively, in PFF overall grade among quarterbacks after 2.5 seconds in the pocket.
In 2021, Mahomes had a down year in a lot of categories, but he was still one of the better players at his position. He was 12th overall in PFF grades after 2.5 seconds in the pocket with an 84.0 passer rating, which was 18th. At times, last season was discouraging for Chiefs fans regarding Mahomes and that’s okay. There’s little reason to expect he’ll play at the level he did from mid-October through mid-November in the future. That was the only stretch in his entire NFL career, outside of his rookie season, where there was doubt as to whether he was the best quarterback on the planet, which he most definitely is.
You can judge Mahomes on the 250 attempts from Week 5 through Week 9 last year or you can judge him on the other 2,500 throws in his NFL career. I personally choose the latter. He still has an A+ arm, great mobility, and fantastic leadership. Even if he’s not A+ when moving through his progressions, does it really matter in the long run?
Mahomes will likely never be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning when making his reads but that doesn’t matter when he’s infinitely more talented than them overall and isn’t as far behind in that category as NFL fans would like to believe. The “talented quarterbacks aren’t good between the ears” trope has been around for as long as I can remember but it just isn’t true.
Mahomes did struggle for a short stretch in 2021 but so did the entire team. The Chiefs quarterback is partially to blame for the team’s struggles, but Andy Reid was not blameless as he did very little to support him by not utilizing the incredible offensive line to its potential and running the ball more.
Contrary to some beliefs among NFL fans/people, Mahomes is not even close to a poor quarterback when making his secondary reads. He’s a truly elite passer and you do not get to his level when you aren’t capable of going through all of your reads. As you see on Twitter from time to time: “If talent was everything then Jeff George would have been an MVP”. He’s not 100% perfect but there is no quarterback I’d rather have starting for my team than Patrick Lavon Mahomes II.