Patrick Mahomes will see first-half snaps in the Chiefs’ second preseason game Saturday against the Steelers (7:30 Eastern time, local listings and NFL App). Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star confirmed as much from head coach Andy Reid.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he expects the first-teamers to play the first half “or somewhere thereabout.” But if the opener is an indication, the starters won’t make it to halftime…
…Reid said the plan this weekend is for the twos to play the third quarter and the threes the fourth quarter.
Unlike fellow AFC star quarterback Baker Mayfield, Mahomes will see preseason reps for the second straight game. Mayfield is sitting for Saturday’s tilt with the Colts, giving time to backup Garrett Gilbert.
The Chiefs record-setting signal-caller played a crisp drive in his only series last week against the Bengals. He completed all four of his passes for 66 yards and scrambled once for 10. This led to a 7-play, 83-yard touchdown drive, which was bolstered by his 36-yard strike to tight end Travis Kelce.
Mahomes, the former first-round pick in 2017, is coming off a record-breaking statistical season. He became just the second quarterback to throw for at least 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season (Peyton Manning is the other). He totaled 5,097 passing yards, 50 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions to lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game.
He also rushed for 272 yards and two scores. These efforts helped earn him the NFL MVP, a first-team All-Pro selection and the 2019 ESPY for Best NFL Player. He also earned the franchise’s first home playoff victory since 1993 with a 31-13 blowout over the Indianapolis Colts.
In the second game of the 2018 regular season, Mahomes completed 23-of-28 passes for 326 yards and six touchdowns against the Steelers in a 42-37 road victory.
Mahomes, Believe It or Not, May Be Even Better This Season
On Friday, the Kansas City Star’s Pete Grathoff detailed three ridiculous throws Mahomes has made during training camp. The first isn’t really practical for live game action, as it was a behind-the-back bullet. However, the next two are a no-look dime and a rocket after getting flushed from the pocket.
What this shows is that Mahomes has a deep reserve of physical talent that he will try to unleash again on the league in 2019. According to Rodger Sherman of The Ringer, while history says that the phenom can only regress this fall, Mahomes is a unique specimen in NFL history.
No QB has ever thrown 40 or more touchdowns in an NFL season and then increased his output the following year, with an average drop-off of 18.8 touchdowns. (Take out Tom Brady’s 50-to-0 injury-related decline and it’s still an average dip of 16.) Factor in that the Chiefs will play one of the toughest schedules in football and that opponents have had a full year to game-plan against Mahomes, and it seems like a step back is inevitable.
Despite that, the only historical comparison Sherman could make for the 23-year-old Mahomes is Dan Marino in 1984. The Dolphins signal-caller was the first quarterback to surpass 5,000 yards in a season, and as Sherman states:
It’s incredible to realize that Mahomes’s only reasonable age-appropriate comparison is a seven-time All-Pro and first-ballot Hall of Famer.
If he’s on the Marino path is an already pass-happy league, it’s hard to imagine too much of a regression. Just based off the polish of the first preseason drive, he’s put in the work to thrive again in 2019, even if it’s not as much as 2018.