Patrick Mahomes is the most prolific passer in professional football’s most prolific passing era by a mile. His on-field antics make for some of the most ridiculous highlights in the history of quarterbacking, and his play-by-play consistency dwarfs the next-closest passer since 2010. That list includes the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady has won four Super Bowls over that time, while Mahomes has one through his first four seasons as a starter.
Brady ruined the conversation surrounding quarterback play. There may be no debate concerning who the best ever is because Brady has the most Super Bowl victories of any player at the most important position in professional sports. What’s even more impressive is that he narrowly missed out on two more. And if it wasn’t for the Manning brothers, he might be sitting at double digits.
Meanwhile, Michael Jordan won all six of his NBA Finals appearances. And even though LeBron James has been a slightly less-prolific scorer over his career, he was better in every other aspect of the game. Part of MJ’s legacy is that he stepped away from the game in his prime and did so again at just 34 (when he was averaging 28.7 points per game). James averaged 30 a season ago at 37, and he did so shooting 52.4% from the field.
No matter what James did or does, he will never be considered the greatest in his sport because he only has four championships — and Jordan has six.
The argument makes more sense for basketball because one player has a significantly higher impact on winning and losing than in football, where your fate is partially controlled by around 60 moving parts, including coaches. But Mahomes needs to hurry up and win Super Bowl 57 because, unlike Brady, he’s got the fast zombies chasing him in the AFC.
Patrick Mahomes Is a Unicorn
Mahomes is so good that we’ve already begun seeing Mahomes fatigue set in throughout sports media. Well, it’s a mix between fatigue and insincerity, but that’s easy to spot. Folks will argue that Josh Allen can take the next step and supplant Mahomes. Joe Burrow is on his heels as well.
Mularky. Hogwash. Balderdash!
Nobody is or will be able to contend with Mahomes as the best QB in the NFL. Not anytime soon, at least. There have been 61 QBs to amass 1,500 gradable plays since 2010. Patrick Mahomes has an adjusted EPA of 0.306. The next closest is Peyton Manning at 0.240.
That is a difference of 0.66 EPA per play, which is the difference between Manning and the 11th-best during that span, Lamar Jackson (0.172).
What about when it matters, though? What about his fourth-quarter numbers? Well, his 0.286 adjusted EPA in the fourth quarter and overtime is also the best of any QB with at least 400 plays. Burrow impressively outpaces him in the EPA+CPOE composite but is 0.024 EPA behind the unicorn.
Surely someone will have edged him out on third and fourth downs. He can’t be the best overall, late in games, and on money downs.
His 0.498 adjusted EPA on third and fourth down is truly unbelievable. The DIFFERENCE between Mahomes and second place (.182) would place him 10th in money down EPA among all QBs over that time. That is legitimately the most ridiculous statistic among the many ridiculous accolades Mahomes has accumulated through five seasons.
Because remember, this is among all QBs dating back to 2010.
So the next time some charlatan claims someone has bested Mahomes, turn off the TV, block them on Twitter, and write a letter to your Congressman. Life is too short to waste time on blasphemy.
And all this time, we didn’t even discuss the flair with which Mahomes goes about accomplishing such tasks. The no-look passes, cross-body darts rolling right, fadeaway bombs, and scrambles away from defenders who are supposed to be faster than Mahomes but somehow magically are not.
If he would have had someone chasing him during his 40-yard dash, you can’t convince me he doesn’t run a 4.4.
Remember When 2022 Was Going To Be a Down Year?
What would All-Pro QB and WR do without one another in 2022? Mahomes was supposed to look at least partially human this season without Tyreek Hill, and Hill wouldn’t be able to unlock his not-so-secret weapon with Tua Tagovailoa’s .22-caliber arm compared to Mahomes’ 105mm cannon.
Well, the Chiefs’ offensive EPA was 0.140 in 2021 and 0.179 in 2022. So, on a per-play basis, they were better without Hill. Meanwhile, Hill had a career season, amassing 1,700 yards in Miami.
The Chiefs’ passing attack also saw better EPA results and a higher success rate this season.
Andy Reid certainly can’t be forgotten in the conversation surrounding Mahomes’ greatness. He is the best offensive coach in the NFL, and it’s not particularly close. He’s made offenses work with a slew of different passers throughout his career, and he has helped Mahomes go from a high-risk draft pick to a metahuman production machine.
Reid and Mahomes adjusted wonderfully this season. And while many teams believe their Super Bowl window remains open because they have (fill in the blank) at QB, they’re wrong.
Hear me, Bengals fans? You’re wrong. And trading away Tee Higgins would be playing with fire unnecessarily. But I digress.
It’s Getting Harder To Win
Brady contended with Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning. The Bills, Jets, and Dolphins acted as children being disciplined in the 1940s during Brady’s run in New England. They were worms stuck on the freeway after a fresh rainstorm in the summer — they got ran over.
Philip Rivers was a great quarterback, but the Chargers… an unserious franchise. Brady’s Patriots’ defense ranked eighth in the NFL from 2010-2019. The Chiefs’ defense has ranked 22nd since Mahomes first started in 2018. But this is less about team support and more about the unbelievable influx of QB talent in the AFC.
Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert are all in the conference. Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, and Bill Belichick are all coaches in the AFC.
And Mahomes is about to have a $46 million cap hit next season, while Herbert, Burrow, and Lawrence are all on rookie deals. It would behoove Mahomes to sneak another Lombardi Trophy into the case before one or two of these teams catch fire over the next few years.
If Mahomes stays relatively healthy, he’ll go down as the most talented passer of all time. But if he wants to challenge Brady’s G.O.A.T. status, he’ll need at least four championships to even enter the conversation for most people.
Beating the Philadelphia Eagles, a superior roster, would get him halfway to the mark. As LeBron has proven to us, getting there doesn’t matter because we live in a world where second place is just the first loser.