I can normally tell when I’m being a homer. I’m pretty ardent about supporting my teams, and although I’ll roast the USC defense in private and under my breath, my m.o. in public is complete, blind, unfailing loyalty to whatever team I’ve adopted as my own.
This has meant getting into arguments about why Kansas point guard Frank Mason — who I know was undersized and overly specialized to college, but who cares — should’ve gone in the first round of the NBA Draft. No matter how strongly I’m arguing for a point, in general, I know when I’m being overly faithful.
All that being said, I don’t think I’m biased when I say that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is going to be the best quarterback in the NFL in the next five years.
I really don’t believe this take is hot. Like, at all. Sure, we’ve only seen Mahomes play in five full NFL games so far, and yeah, young quarterbacks can start out hot and burn out quickly (just take a glance down south, where Deshaun Watson is floundering in Houston). But there’s something about this guy, something that goes beyond the stats and bleeds into that intangible category of the “it” factor.
But let’s get into the stats to start, because Mahomes also has all of the numbers to back up any amount of hype swirling around his first four games of this season. He’s already thrown for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, posting a quarterback rating of 126.5 and breaking Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns in the opening three games of the season.
And he has yet to throw an interception. Not a single one. I do know that someday, Mahomes will throw an interception, and it will be as sad and frustrating as any offensive turnover. But as of yet, he’s perfect. Fourteen touchdowns, zero interceptions.
Statistically, Mahomes is the star of the show in the NFL so far. He has been back-to-back AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Tony Gonzalez believes he’s going to break the single-season touchdown record — as a rookie. And yet, somehow, there’s more magic to Mahomes than simply what can be read on the box score.
No matter what he does the rest of the season, when I talk about this “it” factor, I will always point to the final drive of Monday night’s game against Denver. On third-and-five on the 45-yard line, with Kansas City trailing by 3 points and the clock ticking down under three minutes, Mahomes took the snap and was immediately bombarded by a Broncos blitz. He backpedaled and darted to the left, with two defenders bearing down curling around his offensive line and flushing him into a full sprint towards the sideline.
And then Mahomes did the wildest thing: As a defender came crashing down behind him, wrapping both arms around his ankles and yanking Mahomes to the ground, he flipped the ball to his left hand. And then he threw it.
Let’s get something straight here. Mahomes didn’t toss a lateral or a pitch with his left hand, which is commonly done by a scrambling quarterback. No, this rookie had the audacity to juggle the ball from one hand to the other, cock back his left arm and throw a 10-yard pass to an open receiver for a first down.
That’s the thing about Mahomes. You can hear that he threw for 192 yards outside of the pocket against the Broncos and understand that he is wildly talented at scrambling. But then he does something like that, a mind boggling play that he makes look effortless, and it quickly becomes clear that Mahomes is set slightly apart from other “great” rookie quarterbacks.
I’ve never seen anything like him in a Chiefs uniform. The thing that gets me the most, however, is that Mahomes is the whole, complete, real deal. It’s not just who he is on the field.
The kid refused to sign hometown sponsorship deals until after his first season as a starter, saying that he wanted to prove his worth to Kansas City before earning extra profit from its support.
After his spectacular finish to Monday night’s game, he sought out offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz — who spent the night blocking fearsome edge rusher Von Miller, holding the six-time Pro-Bowler to a single tackle — and presented him with the game ball, saying he didn’t earn it on his own.
Heck, Mahomes has an Instagram account for his pitbull (give @steelthepit a follow) specifically to “show the world that all of his breed isn’t ‘mean and aggressive.’” How much more wholesome can you get?
In short, if you’re not aboard the Patrick Mahomes hype train yet, it’s officially time to hop on.
In a season when it’s clear that our established stars are beginning to reach the descents of their careers — Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and more — Mahomes is setting the bar for a new class of quarterback talent. And he has everything he needs to be the best of the best.
Mahomes might not be the best yet, but he’s working on it in record time. Get on the bandwagon now. It should be a fun ride.
Julia Poe is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs Thursdays.