Chiefs

Maverick Mahomes: Traditional rules don’t apply to Chiefs’ quarterback

Patrick Mahomes leads Chiefs to Monday Night Football win over Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled his way to lead to the team in a 27-23 win against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football at Mile High Stadium in Denver on October 1, 2018.
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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled his way to lead to the team in a 27-23 win against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football at Mile High Stadium in Denver on October 1, 2018.

Forget the rules that guide most NFL quarterbacks. They don’t apply to Patrick Mahomes.

Don’t throw across your body? He’s done it — and gained nearly 30 yards on a third-and-long conversion.

Only throw with your dominant hand? That’s for beginners.

Throw the ball away under threat of imminent sack? Nah.

Mahomes knows all the rules, and then he breaks them, rewriting the accepted norms of being an NFL signal caller week after week. In Monday night’s 27-23 win in Denver, Mahomes’ knack for being a maverick was on full display in front of the highest-rated Monday Night Football audience since Dallas-Arizona on Sept. 27, 2017.

“You saw it in college, and you’re hoping you see it here,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We saw a little bit of it in Denver last year when we put him back in.

“(This) was a Monday night game. You’re the only show going. To be able to perform like that when needed, that’s good. He’s got a ton of things he’s got to clean up. He’s got a lot of room to improve, but his improv there got a 10.”

Of course, there’s the left-handed throw, the one that he “shot-putted” to Tyreek Hill to convert a crucial third down on the game-winning drive. Mahomes has a 91.7 passer rating with his left hand, according to ESPN’s Adam Teicher, better than the season passer ratings for Ben Roethlisberger, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott and Baker Mayfield, among others. And all of those guys are throwing with their dominant hands.

“When it came out of his hand I went, ‘Oh, wow,’” fullback Anthony Sherman said, his eyes growing wide. “And then he completes it.

“I think at this point, we should just trust him and know that he won’t put us in a bad situation. He’ll just find a way to get the ball to an open receiver.”

From his view on the sideline, linebacker Justin Houston has learned not to be surprised by anything Mahomes does. But even that throw made him shake his head in disbelief.

“It’s not shocking to me because of Pat Mahomes, but it is amazing to me to make a throw like that under pressure,” Houston said. “Game on the line and you’re rolling out to your right and you decide to make a left-handed pass and it’s on the money. That’s something special. That shows how great he is.”

An NFL quarterback for 11 seasons, Chad Henne has only seen one other quarterback make a throw with his non-dominant hand in a game.

“You definitely don’t see it as often,” Henne said in the Chiefs’ locker room afterward. “Aaron Rodgers is the only person that rings the bell that can really do that kind of stuff and has done that.”

That’s pretty good company.

If not for Mahomes’ left-handed throw, we’d all likely be focusing on another absurd pass: his cross-body throw to Travis Kelce in the third quarter. Scrambling to his left as he tried to convert a third-and-long, Mahomes turned and threw the ball back across the field to his tight end.

For so many other quarterbacks, a pass like that is ripe for the picking. But with Mahomes, it went for a 29-yard gain and put the Chiefs (4-0) three yards from the end zone and three plays away from a field goal.

Most quarterbacks might get scolded for a risky pass like that. But not Mahomes, not on Monday night.

“(The coaches) never encourage it,” Mahomes said with a sheepish grin. “But at the same time, as long as you complete it and you get the first down, they’re fine with it. But at the same time, you have to know when to not do that. It was a great play by Kelce to finding a void there.”

And of course, most quarterbacks make their most effective throws from the comfort and safety of the pocket. But again, that generalization doesn’t quite apply to Mahomes.

According to an in-game statistic by ESPN, Mahomes completed 10 of 15 passes outside the pocket for 192 yards Monday night. That’s more than any quarterback in the last 10 seasons.

“There will be games like that, where they’re doing a lot of things,” Reid said. “They had a couple of nice little blitzes for us early … where he had to move. The one where he threw left-handed was one of those. … It was just a matter of moving and trying to get (Tyreek) the ball. Obviously not left-handed, but that’s what he did with it. There’s certain plays where you have to be able to do that.”

That’s not normal, but that’s just Mahomes. He’s an enigma, a quarterback molded with Brett Favre ideals — and that’s just what this Chiefs’ offense needs.

“The sky’s the limit for that kid,” Houston said. “As long as he keeps God first, the stuff he’s going to do in this league is going to be amazing.”

Brooke Pryor

Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs and NFL for The Star.

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