Patrick Mahomes made history with some extraordinary numbers in his first season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.
But history is against an encore.
As the Chiefs open a season of Super Bowl hope against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday — hope based largely on the promise of their wunderkind QB — the odds of Mahomes posting a statistical bonanza akin to the one he produced in 2018 (50 touchdown passes, 5,097 yards) are, well, let’s just say Mahomes would become the first to put together consecutive seasons like that.
A year ago, Mahomes became the third quarterback in NFL with at least 50 touchdown passes in a season, joining the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, who threw 50 in 2007, and Peyton Manning, who tossed 55 for the Denver Broncos in 2013.
Brady was 30 when he flung his 50. The next season was lost when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL after Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard hit him in a helmet-to-knee collision. Brady’s next-best season in terms of touchdown passes came in 2011, when the threw for 39.
Manning was 37 when he posted his big touchdown pass number. He threw 39 scoring passes the next season before finishing his career in 2015.
As for a quarterback throwing for 5,000 yards, that has happened 11 times, with both Mahomes and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger reaching the milestone last season. The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees is the only player with multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons, and he’s done it five times, including three straight from 2011 to 2013.
The others at 5,000: the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino (1984) and the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford (2011).
In his third NFL season, can Mahomes average the 3.1 touchdown passes and 312.5 yards per game it would take to post another 50/5000?
He doesn’t talk in specifics.
“You have to improve yourself every single year,” Mahomes said. “I know that I have to step it up even more.”
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy suggests that Mahomes doesn’t have to scale the same heights as 2018 to have a successful season in 2019.
“One thing that I focused on talking to the guys about, I don’t want anyone to think that we need to go out and set the world on fire,” Bieniemy said. “The only thing we need is to make sure we have one point more point than our opponent.”
For Brady and Manning, those 50/5,000 seasons ended in the Super Bowl. That’s the objective for Mahomes and the Chiefs, who are bidding for their first spot in the big game since January 1970.
The Chiefs made several offseason moves with the idea of advancing one game further than their overtime loss to New England in the last AFC Championship Game. Most came on the defensive side, particularly with the addition of ends Frank Clark and Alex Okafor and safety Tyrann Mathieu, plus a new defensive staff led by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
But some nice additions have emerged on offense, too, primarily through the NFL Draft. Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman and first-year running back Darwin Thompson join veterans Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy, along with an experienced offensive line, as the Chiefs look to build upon the NFL’s most productive offense.
But the prospects for the Chiefs’ most eagerly anticipated season in decades center around the quarterback who will turn just 24 on Sept. 17. Mahomes crushed many Chiefs passing records last season and has become a fresh premier face of the NFL, making many public appearances and popping up in numerous national advertisements.
Matching his feat of 50/5,000 would make for more than another nice storyline. It would make NFL history, and possibly deliver the Chiefs to the doorstep of their biggest game in a generation.
“We’re trying to win the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said. “It’s a day-by-day process.”
Fifty TD passes/season
55: Peyton Manning, Denver, 2013
50: Tom Brady, New England, 2007
50: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City, 2018
5,000 passing yards/season
5,477: Manning, Denver, 2013
5,476: Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011
5,235: Brady, New England, 2011
5,208: Brees, New Orleans, 2016
5,177: Brees, New Orleans, 2012
5,126: Brees, New Orleans, 2013
5,129: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh, 2018
5,097: Mahomes, Kansas City, 2018
5,084: Dan Marino, Miami, 1984
5,069: Brees, 2008
5,038: Matthew Stafford, Detroit, 2011