If checkdown maestro Alex Smith was the NFL’s best deep passer with the Chiefs in 2017, Patrick Mahomes II’s potential with the team entering this season was sky high. An Air Raid quarterback with a rocket arm who can run Kansas City’s college concepts and who doubles as a cheap, team-controlled option at the most expensive spot in football, Mahomes could be the perfect modern centerpiece for the Chiefs to build around.
The sky no longer seems high enough to hold the expectations in Kansas City. Mahomes finished with 15 completions on 27 attempts for 256 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday as the Chiefs offense overwhelmed the Los Angeles Chargers, 38–28. Admittedly, two of those four touchdowns were merely goal-line handoffs masquerading as forward passes on plays to Tyreek Hill and De’Anthony Thomas. (They count in fantasy football all the same, and how you feel about that probably depends on whether or not you own Mahomes in your league.)
Welcome to the end zone. Population: Tyreek Hill ✌️✌️✌️ pic.twitter.com/TR0qsDQ5Wi— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 9, 2018
Mahomes demonstrated real prowess as a passer. In the first quarter, he found Hill over the middle, and the speedy wideout immediately broke a tackle from safety Jahleel Addae and outraced the rest of the Chargers to the end zone.
And at the end of the third quarter, Mahomes found fullback (!) Anthony Sherman for a 36-yard touchdown on a wheel route that will give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares.
Andy Reid’s game-planning deserves a lot of the credit for the win (it’s the second straight year the Chiefs have wrecked their Week 1 opponent), as does Hill, who finished with seven receptions for 169 yards and two receiving touchdowns in addition to a punt-return TD. But neither should take away from what Mahomes accomplished. The Chiefs were hyped as possibly the most fun offense in football, and Mahomes was the question mark entering the season. He more than delivered.
Mahomes isn’t the first young quarterback to immediately meet the hype out of the gate as a starter — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Deshaun Watson all looked like MVP-caliber players in their rookie year, and Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate while healthy in his second season. Mahomes’s early success is like Christmas morning to the fans and fantasy owners who bought into the hype, but his play also represents something larger than himself: teams’ increasing openness to college offenses. Maybe one day Mahomes will be the face of an Air Raid revolution in the pros.
Those conversations are years away. Right now, the Chiefs are the most fun team in football, and Mahomes is the star of the show.