I was wrong about Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs aren’t playing this Sunday, so what better time to write a Patrick Mahomes appreciation post than right now?

Including the playoffs, the Chiefs have gone 36-9 (.800) with Mahomes as their starting quarterback since 2017. That includes one start in his rookie season in 2017 (1-0), 16 starts in his MVP season in 2018 (12-4), 14 starts in his Super Bowl winning season in 2019 (11-3), 9 starts in 2020 (8-1), and an impressive 4-1 mark in the playoffs — where the only loss he took came in overtime against the Patriots in the 2018 AFC Championship Game where the Chiefs never possessed the football.

Needless to say it’s been the best three-year stretch of any Kansas City team in my life, and one of the greatest three-year runs of any team in the history of football (citation needed). In 40 regular season games Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 12,099 passing yards (302 yards per game), 101 touchdowns (2.52 per game), and just 19 interceptions (0.48 per game). Kansas City has gone 32-8 in those games, and are on their way to winning a third consecutive AFC West title.

I never thought Mahomes was going to be that guy, but that obviously had more to do with my own biases against Big 12 quarterbacks, and the fact that since my dropout alma mater, Virginia Tech, fell out of relevance in the college football scene I haven’t paid very much attention to the sport. Between the ages of 9 and 21 (circa 1999-2011) I was a devout college football fan. I knew all the good players coming out of high school, because I followed high school football recruiting back then, and so I had a pretty good idea of who was good and who wasn’t.

The explanation for why I fell out of love with Virginia Tech was simple: they weren’t very good, and my favorite baseball team — the Texas Rangers — became an absolute powerhouse in MLB. So I shifted my focus. I even became the editor of a small Rangers blog, and eventually wrote for an ESPN Sweetspot blog called One Strike Away — a place I eventually got kicked to the curb from because I have a hard time playing nicely with others.

Anyway, by the time Mahomes got drafted by the Chiefs I was kind of enjoying the thing we had going with quarterback Alex Smith. Kansas City was consistently winning 10 games a year, and that isn’t the type of shit to be taken for granted. At the time, I was of the mind that winning double digits in the NFL was pretty hard to do; I hadn’t yet been exposed to the reality of cheering for the best team in the league. With a bird in hand, I thought it was a stupid move to give the shaft to Alex Smith in lieu of rolling the dice on some gunslinger quarterback out of Texas Tech, a place that never produced an NFL quarterback (again, citation needed).

In February, 2018 — not even three years ago! — I wrote:

It’s a gamble that will either go extremely well, where the Chiefs actually turn their strong regular seasons into real postseason wins, or extraordinarily awful, where Mahomes struggles, the team finishes 5-11, and Andy Reid hangs on to his job for dear life.

What has happened since then? Patrick Mahomes turned into the best player in the NFL, the Chiefs have gone 12-4 back-to-back years, Kansas City has played in two AFC Championship games and won one Super Bowl. It’s fair to say I was wrong.

I don’t consider myself to be a dumb guy, but who honestly could have predicted Mahomes would have worked out like this? In the same article I embedded above, I said: It feels like Smith is leaving Kansas City with business forever left unfinished, and we’re hoping on the — what, 25 percent? — chance Pat Mahomes is as advertised. “As advertised” was, at best, the idea that Mahomes could turn into a guy to lead the Chiefs to more 10-win seasons. It didn’t take into account that he would have become the best quarterback, let alone individual, in the NFL.

As a math guy/gambling guy I don’t even know what odds someone could have put on that way back in February of 2018. I guarantee it was lower than the 25% number I offered; it was easily lower than even 5%; in all honesty it would have been 1-in- however many quarterbacks have played in the league since the beginning of time. I’ve only been a Chiefs fan since the late-90’s, but he’s the best player I’ve ever seen and it’s not even close.

He is an unbelievable player. That’s fine. But I think the thing I like most about him is that he seems like the type of dude other players want to play hard for. I’ve probably watched every YouTube video available that shows him saying “yes, sir” to his coaches, so he’s also a player that coaches like to coach. Set aside he was on the forefront of the NFL claiming Black Lives Matter, or the he helped lead the charge in the Chiefs get out to vote mission. I’ve been following this guy for three years and he seems, dare I say it, the perfect NFL quarterback.

But again, I was behind the times. Even when he got drafted, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was raving about the 10th overall pick in the draft:

Think about an ultimate gunslinger, who I thought was the most entertaining quarterback to watch in a long time. Talk about what I’m tired of, I’m tired of bubble screens and short passes, dink and dunks, and all these 70 percent completion percentages, makes me sick Jon [Gruden]. This guy will throw the ball down the field. He will play football the way we like to see it played, and this kid has, I think, a lot more potential moving forward than people think considering the fact that a lot of people will write him off because of the system he comes from. Saying “Where’s the successful quarterback coming out of this basically run-and-shoot type offense, Jon?” And that’s the issues Mahomes will have to prove. That he can do something nobody else can do.

I still find it hard to believe that Patrick Mahomes plays for my favorite football team. That’s all I’ve got.

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