Patrick Mahomes report card: Second-half struggles doomed offense

Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes couldn’t overcome his team’s struggles in Week 5. We have his full, weekly report card and analysis.

The Kansas City Chiefs will not be the team to challenge the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ undefeated season. Their 40-32 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders was shocking considering how it happened, but in hindsight was the perfect strategy from Jon Gruden’s feisty bunch of outcasts. The Raiders kept the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands as much as possible.

Throughout the 2020 season we’ll be tracking and grading quarterback Patrick Mahomes as we start chronicling one of the most talented passers of all time. The mesmerizing star is extremely unique with his intelligence, playmaking, flair and incredible arm talents. Even at 25 years old it’s clear we have the opportunity to see a full career of greatness.

Mahomes had varying levels of success against the Raiders’ defense. He completed just over half his passes, but lost five catches to drops and there were another four throwaways. In total, 27-of-39 passes were catchable balls.

We’re looking beyond the stat sheet to analyze Mahomes this season. I’ve been charting catchable passes for the last six years for collegiate quarterback prospects, and the results have brought solid baselines in key areas of accuracy to project NFL success.

Mahomes benefitted from this, and the project is partially why I was so high on him as a prospect. We’ll be grading him on playmaking, decision-making, accuracy, efficiency, and awareness in addition to tracking his directional and situational passing effectiveness.

Playmaking: B+

Games like this are the most difficult to account for because of the limited opportunities to make a difference in one half. The Chiefs were supremely effective in the first half, largely thanks to Mahomes. They punted just twice in the half of a tied 24-24 game.

Mahomes’ playmaking certainly played a big part in that scoring output. He picked apart the Raiders’ defense on third downs, connecting on 7-of-8 conversion downs. His first seven were completed and the final one of the half was his lone uncatchable pass.

His ability to roll the pocket and hit his man in target on the above example isn’t extreme but his command of the game was evident at this point. The Raiders’ defense was in shambles trying to read where the ball could go, and Mahomes continued to buy time within and outside of the pocket over and over again.

The big plays came in waves during the first half before coming to a screeching halt when the Raiders’ man concepts were drastically more effective. They deserve credit for this, as the Chiefs’ third downs cratered in efficiency and often it was out of Mahomes’ hot hand on quick, failed drives.

Mahomes had just four passes in the second half entering the final two drives of the game so it’s difficult to weigh the team’s issues too heavily against him. He created five catchable passes and one touchdown on 10 throws outside of the pocket, all but one were under pressure.

This was a good example of Mahomes’ playmaking prowess even if he wasn’t perfect. It’s easy to be critical of the few missed plays when the standard was perfection.

Decision-Making: B

We had almost three interceptable passes from Mahomes in this contest. The one below was picked easily on a fourth-down and the one above was a poorly-placed third down throw. But neither was due to terrible decisions that were caused by bigger issues with processing information.

Execution was the main failure from Mahomes in the second-half and that’ll be factored in elsewhere.

The game-ending interception came when they were down by two scores and on a fourth-down. It was a bad decision but also a justified shot downfield. The fact it was returned to the two was somewhat luck-based and had little impact on the overall result.

There were a number of quality decisions this game as well. A whopping 8-of-13 conversion down throws went beyond the marker through the air, and he was accurate on 10 of those total throws. He was justified to stay aggressive.

Accuracy: B-

It’s easy to look at his accuracy more negatively because of the result of the game. Mahomes had to nail a couple more throws to give the Chiefs a chance to push this game into overtime or win and he missed a few when they mattered most. A few would’ve been good enough for completions until the Raiders improved their positioning by leaps and bounds by using help defenders.

These are throws Mahomes can hit but the margin for error is tiny. This year’s Chiefs’ defense has been good enough to sustain any misses like this because the offense piles on points and games turn into multi-score leads. But trailing late amplified the breakdowns in his placement.

And some of the stagnant drives happened with drops despite the throw being perfect. These happen, but losing five receptions and two first-downs are notable in a game when the Raiders won with milking the clock and playing keep-away.

Efficiency: C+

The conversion numbers and out of pocket numbers were solid enough, but here’s where the hit comes in for performance under pressure and missing an open Tyreek Hill deep down the middle for a would-be touchdown. Mahomes’ efficiency needed to be better for a win and that’s the bottom line with this category.

He threw a catchable ball on only 6-of-14 throws under pressure and it wasn’t good enough. This proved to be too many missed throws based on the lack of attempts in the second-half. It’s easy to see that now, but in the moment, the Raiders’ ability to own the third quarter clock was unexpected.

Plays like this fantastic extend and throw in the red zone did keep Mahomes with an average grade. He can pull this magical ability and perfect execution out of nowhere.

Awareness: B+

There’s not many smarter players in the league, if any, than Mahomes. He continues to grade well with awareness because he masters the situation through mental reps and a special feel for the game. Almost every decision he makes can be rightly justified.

Even the awareness to use the sideline to protect his receiver and the ball is something that few can do physically. His combination of strengths allow for absurd completions like this 37-yarder to Tyreek Hill.

Overall it wasn’t the cleanest game for Mahomes and his mistakes were compounded by the failures of those around him. Drops, bad defense and tentative play-calling in the third quarter were massive factors in this Chiefs loss. Mahomes played well enough, but not perfectly.

The Chiefs will need to rebound quickly as Buffalo lurks next.

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