Patrick Mahomes II has been doubted ever since coming into the NFL. But, during the 2018 season, he proved everyone wrong.
At one point or another in our life, we have all heard someone say things like, “early bird gets the worm,” “every dog has his day” or “good things come to those who wait.” On April 27, 2017, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the latter came true to the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, known as the Chiefs Kingdom, at the 82nd annual National Football Draft.
It had been 34 years since the Chiefs had drafted a quarterback in the first round. In 1983 with the seventh selection, they took Todd Blackledge out of Penn State. Blackledge went on to play in 46 games in seven seasons – five with Kansas City and two with the Pittsburgh Steelers, compiling a stat sheet of 424 passes completed out of 881 attempts for a completion percentage of 48.1%. He racked up 5,286 yards and 29 touchdowns to 38 interceptions for a career rating of 60.2. In that same 83’ draft, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, two future Hall of Famers, were taken at #14 & #27, respectively. I guess the early bird didn’t get the worm that time.
April 27, 2017
Fast forward to that April day in 2017. Kansas City had just come off a 12-4 record in the regular season and had clinched the AFC West division title for the first time since 2010 and had secured a first-round bye for the first time since 2003. They lost to the Steelers in the divisional round by a score of 16-18, with the Steelers not having a single touchdown in the game, but had won their first playoff game since 1993 the season before, when the Chiefs beat the Houston Texas in a 30-0 shutout before eventually losing to the New England Patriots in the divisional round.
After a trade with the San Francisco 49ers a few years back, Alex Smith was the Chiefs quarterback, and the franchise started to become contenders once again under head coach Andy Reid. If you remember, Reid was the one who traded for Smith in his first season with the Chiefs. The future seemed hopeful for the Chiefs, and the QB position was not a position of need.
Then it happened. After the Chiefs sent the Buffalo Bills their 2017 first and third round pick and their 2018 first round pick, the Chiefs moved up from the 27th pick to the 10th spot and picked Patrick Mahomes ll out of Texas Tech University. The pick shocked many who didn’t think the Chiefs would draft a quarterback, and shocked experts after the trade, assuming they would select quarterback Deshaun Watson out of Clemson who was coming off a College National Championship win and was considered NFL ready.
Mahomes was considered by many as someone who had a big arm but was reckless and turnover prone. Many said that he would need to sit a few years before he would ever be ready to see any NFL action and also as someone who had to learn to play under center and in the pocket as he was an air raid quarterback. Air raid QB’s hadn’t found too much success in the NFL, and not many gave Mahomes a shot of being truly successful himself. The Chiefs saw something the rest of the experts didn’t in Mahomes and decided to “pull the trigger” and pick him at #10 when he was projected to come out the 2nd round at best.
The Chiefs Kingdom was ecstatic. They never honestly felt like they had ever had a quarterback that they could call their own. Even Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, who had led the Chiefs to their only Super Bowl win in 1969, had been drafted by the Steelers in 1957 and traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1959 before signing with the then Dallas Texans, who would go on to sign with the Chiefs in 1962. So while he was a Chief and will always be a Chief, he wasn’t someone they could indeed call their own. Now they had Mahomes.
The growth and development of Mahomes in high school and college
Patrick Mahomes ll was born in Whitehouse, Texas on September 17, 1995, to father Pat Mahomes, a Major League Baseball pitcher, and mother, Randi Mahomes. He was a three-sport athlete at Whitehouse High School where as a senior, he threw for 4,619 yards and 50 touchdowns to go with 948 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns as a football player. In baseball, in his senior year, he threw a 16 strikeout no-hitter. He would go on to commit and attend Texas Tech University.
At Texas Tech, Mahomes would sit his freshman year behind Davis Webb until he was injured. In his freshman year, Mahomes would flash some of the magic that we would all come to know him for in a game against Baylor when he threw for 598 yards 6 touchdowns and only one interception, a Big 12 freshman record. He started his sophomore year as the starter and finished with 4,653 yards 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In his junior year, after announcing he would leave baseball to focus on football, Mahomes would show that the magic was no fluke and he was someone who was serious about his football career.
In a game against Oklahoma and future Cleveland Browns messiah Baker Mayfield that Texas Tech would lose, he would have a total of 819 yards with 734 coming off of passing. Mahomes broke the NCAA FBS record for single-game total offense and tied for NCAA single-game passing record. Both he and Mayfield would set the record for total offense combined yards with 1,708 and score 125 combined points that are good for the second most all-time that involved ranked teams.
Some still consider that game as one of the best college football games of all time. Mahomes would end the years with a season leading yards per game (421), passing yards (5,052), total offense (5,312), points responsible for (318), and total touchdowns (53). He would win the Sammy Baugh Trophy. On January 3rd, 2017 he declared for the NFL draft.
Mahomes showed his magic, and there was no turning back
Mahomes started his NFL career just like he began his college career sitting behind the starting quarterback. The Chiefs would go on to finish the season 10-6 and win the AFC West division title once again. With the playoff position already a lock after Week 16, the Chiefs started Mahomes in the final game against the Denver Broncos. Mahomes would once again flash his magic and lead the Chiefs to a 27-24 win after a last-minute drive to get them into field goal position. The Chiefs would lose to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card round 21-22 after Titans QB Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself in the third quarter, and led the Titans back from a 21-3 deficit.
The Chiefs and Chiefs Kingdom had gotten a taste of the Mahomes magic, and there was no turning back. After the season, the Chiefs traded starting quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in return for cornerback Kendell Fuller and a third-round pick. It was now the start of the Mahomes era, and the Chiefs Kingdom was more than ready.
The Kansas City fan base had new energy, and their new quarterback was the talk of the Chiefs Kingdom and the NFL as a whole. Chiefs fans had high hopes but also didn’t expect too much from the QB in his first year as the starter. Many projected Mahomes to finish with 25+ touchdowns and 12+ interceptions with 4,000 or so passing yards.
Now that he was the certified starter, you could see billboards all over the city with Mahomes front and center. The new season brought new hopes of a better future for the Chiefs faithful and with weapons like breakout speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill, top 3 tight end Travis Kelce, newly acquired wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and last years leading rusher Kareem Hunt at running back, it was easy to see why.
When training camp opened up in St. Joseph, Missouri at Missouri Western University the fan base flooded to get a look at the team’s open practices. Family Fun Day was packed with eager fans wanting to get autographs of the team and especially Patrick Mahomes. When there were talks of Mahomes throwing interceptions by the bundle at practice and Sammy Watkins not having a good start with the Chiefs offense, the media went wild and only went in more with the talk of the interceptions he would throw once the season started. While some might have got nervous, most of the Kingdom still was not fazed. They had faith in their coach and what he saw in their quarterback of the future.
2018 Regular Season
The regular season kicked off, and the Chiefs came out hot against the division rival Los Angeles Chargers. What would follow was a season of record-breaking performances from Hill, Kelce, and of course, Mahomes. The magic was real, and Mahomes would prove all the haters and doubters wrong. The City and the fan base around the world had a new vibe. While it was hard to forget the heartbreak of the past, slowly a new mindset was setting in. The Chiefs could never be counted out of games, and even in the losses, it was easy to see how a play here or there could have changed the outcome of the game.
The Chiefs defense played at a historically bad rate, but that only showed more how Mahomes was a legitimate star in the NFL. The media, minus a few naysayers, had come around and started to see what the Chiefs organization had seen all along. Patrick Mahomes was the real deal. Even after starting running back Kareem Hunt was caught on video pushing and kicking a woman, and getting kicked off the team, the Chiefs found a way to stick together and overcome adversity.
The last month of the season featured some close losses but the team never gave up, and neither did the Chiefs Kingdom. The Chiefs would go on to finish 12-4, win the AFC West three years in a row for the first time in franchise history, have the top seed in the AFC and host the AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history, and kill a few of their playoff demons on the way. This included winning their first playoff game at home since 1993, and also added a victory over the Indianapolis Colts, who had previously always found a way to beat the Chiefs, even dating back to the Peyton Manning days. Had it not been for a Dee Ford offsides penalty, they would have been in the Super Bowl. The only demon they had left to slay was to beat the Patriots and win the AFC Championship Game, but they lost in overtime.
Even in that loss to the Patriots, Mahomes led the team to a game-tying field goal with 30 seconds left in the game to force overtime. While not ending the way many hopes for, it was far more than anyone expected with Mahomes at the helm in his first year.
Mahomes set the NFL on fire
Mahomes accomplished so much in his first year when many thought he would fail. Throughout the season, he was blamed for losses even when it was the defense. It was always, “Wait until they get tape on him. Wait until he plays good defense. Wait until he has to play from behind. Wait until he has to play in bad weather.” He proved them all wrong. Let’s take a quick look at all he accomplished.
- 383-580 passing
- 66% completion percentage
- 5,097 passing yards
- 50 passing touchdowns
- 12 interceptions
- 2 rushing touchdowns
- 113.8 QB rating
- 82.0 QBR
- #1 ranked QB
- 471.8 fantasy points most by a QB in a season EVER
- 12-4 record
- No. 1 seed in the AFC
- AFC West Champs
- 318.6 average yards per game
- 4+ touchdowns seven times this year
- 3+ touchdowns in nine out of 15 games
- 478 yards and 6 touchdowns in a game
- AFC Offensive Payer of the Week in Weeks 1 and 2
- AFC Offensive Player of the Month in September
- Made Pro Bowl and won Pro Bowl MVP
- AP First-Team All-Pro
- Pro Football Writers Association – Offensive Player of the Year
- Pro Football Writers Association – MVP
- Pro Football Focus – MVP
- CBS – MVP
- Sports Illustrated – MVP
- NFL Fed Ex Air Player of the Year
- NFL Offensive Player of the Year
- Associated Press NFL MVP
Oh, and as for him needing to work from the pocket? Pro Football Focus had him leading all qualifying quarterbacks in that area with a clean-pocket passer rating of 134.2. They also had him leading the league in big-time throws (46) and third in big-time throw percentage (7.9).
I’d say he did OK in his first season, and I’d say the future is bright for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chiefs Kingdom. Mahomes loves to prove the naysayers and doubters wrong, and I’m sure that whatever “but” or “wait” you got next for him, he is up to the challenge of proving you wrong again.
Connect with Chiefs Kingdom on Twitter @KingdomCitian.