We need to start preparing—mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in all other ways—for the possibility that Patrick Mahomes is even better this year than he was last year.
Last year, the Chiefs passer lit the league on fire from the very start of the season. Through two games in 2018, Mahomes accumulated an otherworldly stat line: 38 completions on 55 attempts (69.1 percent) for 582 passing yards (10.6 yards per attempt), a whopping 10 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Kansas City went 2-0, winning road contests against the Chargers and Steelers by a combined 15 points. You know how the story ended: Mahomes won MVP and the top-seeded Chiefs narrowly lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
This season, Mahomes is arguably even better. Through two games, Mahomes has completed 55 of his 77 attempts (71.4 percent) for 821 yards, seven touchdowns, and zero interceptions. That’s a shade better than 10.6 yards per attempt on significantly higher volume: If Mahomes keeps up this pace, he’ll pass for more than 6,500 yards—the NFL record is 5,477. And while the touchdown numbers have dipped, he’s still on pace for 56 of them, which would pass his 50 from last season and set a new single-season record.
The Chiefs are 2-0 again, with wins over the Jaguars and Raiders, and this time around they’ve scored a combined 32 more points than their opponents. Those are clearly weaker opponents than the Chiefs faced in their first two games last season, but what Mahomes is doing to start this season is proving that he’s the league’s best quarterback. It isn’t even close.
Some of the passes he made in the Chiefs’ 28-10 win over the Raiders were typical Mahomes fare—throws that would be worthy of a highlight reel for any other quarterback in the league but wouldn’t even crack the top 25 throws in Mahomes’s young career.
Perhaps more impressive was this touchdown to Travis Kelce, dropped easily between coverage:
Or this sideline toss to Demarcus Robinson:
Mahomes’s deep passes are already the stuff of legend, and the Raiders were helpless as he dropped bomb after bomb on them in the second quarter. Mahomes ended the half with five straight completions of at least 27 yards, three of which went for touchdowns, and his first-half passing chart looked like a laser show.
All 4 of Patrick Mahomes' touchdowns in the 2nd quarter came on deep attempts (20+ air yards).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 15, 2019
Since 2016, only one other QB has thrown as many deep passing touchdowns in a single game (Jared Goff in Week 4, 2018).
Mahomes did it in a quarter.#KCvsOAK | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/4m1giZXKjx
Mahomes wasn’t simply taking advantage of an overmatched Raiders secondary, either. This pass didn’t count because of a holding penalty, but Mahomes still has the repertoire of no-no-yes throws that will always be worth embedding in blog posts:
Didn't end up counting due to holding penalty, but this cross-body throw from Mahomes is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/0wluDzGbQV— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) September 15, 2019
These cross-field passes that Mahomes has made so ordinary shouldn’t be possible. They’re the clearest sign that Mahomes is in another tier for NFL quarterbacks—no one else in the league can make those throws. In fact, Mahomes’s only real mistake so far this year was when one of his no-look passes got too cute, when he overthrew Kelce in Week 1.
All of this has come without top receiver Tyreek Hill, who is expected to miss four to six weeks with a clavicle injury he sustained in Week 1. The All-Pro had 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, yet the Chiefs have looked like themselves without him on the field, with Sammy Watkins rewriting his career narrative and speedsters Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman replacing Hill’s take-the-top-off ability.
Players and teams often regress to the mean after particularly good or bad seasons, and Mahomes was a prime regression candidate entering this season. “Regression” sounds like a negative, but there is also such thing as positive regression, when a player moves back toward their true level of production after a down season. Perhaps that’s exactly what is happening with Mahomes—for all we know, 2018 was his version of a sophomore slump.