The Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm in 2018. Can they, and he, do it again in 2019?
That’s one of the biggest storylines of the 2019 season.
Whenever someone like Mahomes emerges out of the blue and dominates the way he did, opposing defenses spend the offseason obsessing over coming up with ways to slow him down. The 13 teams on the docket this year (he plays three of them twice) surely have studied every game, every snap, every throw for anything that could be used to keep Mahomes from doing to them what he did to pretty much everyone last year.
The Patriots may have provided the blueprint for the rest of the league in the AFC Championship game, which didn’t exactly shut down the Kansas City offense but ultimately slowed things down enough to outscore them in overtime. Although the Chiefs require a defense to cover every blade of grass on the field, given the power of Mahomes’ arm and the speed of Tyreek Hill‘s feet, the Patriots chose to defend the deepest areas of the field, keeping the ball in front of them and forcing the Chiefs to move more deliberately than perhaps they’d like.
Ultimately, nothing any defense does may matter. Mahomes is at his best when he’s forced to improvise, and there’s no amount of planning that can keep a guy with uncanny gifts from winning what becomes a schoolyard scramble. If defenses decide to avoid chaos, Mahomes has the arm and accuracy to pick them apart from the pocket.
That said, it won’t be easy for Mahomes to match what he did last year. But just because other quarterbacks have struggled in their second seasons as the starter, we’ve already seen that there’s something very different about Mahomes. If that’s the case, the 2019 Mahomes will be the 2018 Mahomes — and maybe even better.
So get ready for more funny-body throws from various arm angles, with no-look passes and left-handed passes and Fran Tarkenton scrambles and balls heaved off the wrong foot or with no feet on the ground at all. No amount of coaching can stop that kind of special talent, and it’s something the NFL will get to enjoy for as long as Mahomes has the physical ability to do it.