Red Zone

Halftime observations from Mile High: Chiefs 14, Broncos 10

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes congratulates RB Kareem Hunt on his 35-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes congratulates RB Kareem Hunt on his 35-yard TD run in the first quarter. deulitt@kcstar.com

It’s halftime of the KC Chiefs’ Sunday afternoon showdown against Denver, and they lead the Broncos 14-10 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Here is Chiefs beat writer Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.

1. Patrick Mahomes has shown some flashes

The A-Team has spent the last several months trying to prepare you for The Patrick Mahomes Experience. That includes some very strong throws, some eluding of pressure in the pocket, some tight-window throws that make you go “wow” and some throws that make you go “huh?” We’ve seen it all in this first half. Mahomes’ 51-yard throw to Demetrius Harris on the first drive of the game was a thing of beauty, and so was his third-down strike to Albert Wilson in the second quarter, in which he dodged an oncoming rusher and threw a missile to complete a third-and-long. This kind of creativity is outstanding and rare, the kind of thing that will make Mahomes a special quarterback when he has a full grasp of the offense. That said...

2. The interception was typical of he brings, too

Mahomes’ lone interception of the half came when he tried to connect downfield to De’Anthony Thomas but wound up overshooting him by several yards. Maybe Thomas didn’t run the route at the right depth, or maybe Mahomes was so amped up he just airmailed the throw. Regardless, we saw Mahomes throw some –– but not necessarily an abundance –– of those types of interceptions in training camp. It’s the kind of pick you rarely see the starter, Alex Smith, throw, a trait you guys probably take for granted. Mahomes can eliminate those from his reportoire but it will take reps and experience. Just be ready for that.

3. Mahomes’ ability to throw on the move is terrific

Mahomes made a few throws on the run he shouldn’t have been able to make. One came late in the second, when he shuffled forward in the pocket and delivered a rocket to Wilson for a first down for the second time of the game. The thing was, his front shoulder was pointed toward the sideline and he seemed to throw across his body, somewhat, to the left side of the field to find Wilson. It showcased Mahomes’ ability to throw from different platforms and fool defenders with his body language, which I covered in this story you should definitely check out if you haven’t.

4. This preview of the 2018/2019 offense is really interesting

If the Chiefs indeed decide to move on from Smith after this season, this game could tell you a lot about the way the offense will be designed when Mahomes takes over. Lots of shotgun today. LOTS. An overwhelming amount, really, with plenty of empty formations and some screens, too. On the one play I watched Mahomes take a snap from under center, I thought his footwork still looked a tad awkward. That makes since, since he’s been in shotgun-heavy offenses for the entirety of his football-playing career. He’ll need to work on his footwork under center, because the Chiefs have a lot of things they like to do in those formations, but a college-style

5. Lots of random thoughts

Nice to Anthony Sherman score his first career rushing touchdown. He’s a tough dude I think they should use more on offense. Also think it will be fun to see him as a feature back in the second half if Akeem Hunt cannot return ... We saw in the first half why Tanoh Kpassagnon doesn’t play more. He’s got to be more consistent holding the edge vs. the run. The moment he does, he’ll start playing much more. Freakish athlete with a great demeanor ... The tackling continues to stink. De’Angelo Henderson ran threw some tackles on his 29-yard touchdown run but the truth is I wouldn’t be TOO worried. These are the backups, remember? ... Can’t wait to see the coaches tape of how the o-line fared. Kudos to Mitch Schwartz for playing while the rest of the key starters sit. Can’t let Von Miller decapitate Mahomes ... inside linebacker Terrance Smith has flashed. Had a big hit and an interception.

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