We’re going to keep this mailbag idea rolling because it’s fun having other people give me ideas for what I should write about.
This is the third Adam’s Angle mailbag of 2018. You can read the first in the June 16 Globe and the second in the June 20 Globe. This edition has just one question, but it’s an intriguing one for Kansas City Chiefs fans and non-fans, alike.
Question: Will Patrick Mahomes lead the Chiefs to the playoffs in his first year as a starter?
Answer: Yes, assuming he stays healthy (and, really, any prediction automatically includes the “if so-and-so remains healthy”).
There have been so many stories about Mahomes that his hype is reaching unreal heights. There was even a story on The Ringer’s website about Mahomes’ hype, and it’s the June before he starts his first season as a starter.
(By the way, I hope sports fans read The Ringer, The Athletic — which is a subscription site that regularly gives out discounts — and local coverage of their favorite teams. There has never been a better time to read about your favorite teams and sports because there have never been so many outlets to gobble up.)
When the Kansas City Chiefs moved up in the 2017 NFL Draft to select Mahomes, it was a foregone conclusion that Alex Smith would get one more year as the starter before Mahomes took over. All the rookie had to do last season was not be awful on the field and not be a pain off the field.
We’ve seen Mahomes on the field just a few times, playing in preseason games and last year’s regular season finale at Denver. What he’s done in those games has been hope-inspiring. His arm strength is off the charts and the first thing anyone brings up, but he has other tools, too. Seth Keysor at The Athletic has done a series breaking down the other skills Mahomes has and, while he isn’t a perfect quarterback, what he’s shown in limited time on the field goes far beyond just a strong arm.
Mahomes has shown accuracy, he handles pressure well and he keeps his eyes down the field, which provides potential for big plays. Chiefs fans who didn’t like “Captain Checkdown” Smith are going to love what Mahomes brings to the table.
Off the field, all the reports on how Mahomes prepares, how he handles himself with teammates and everything else sounds good. So what the Chiefs have in a first-year starter is an incredible physical talent combined with a mature approach to the game. That Mahomes’ father was a pitcher in Major League Baseball probably helped in that the son was taught how to be a professional from an early age.
But a quarterback can’t make a winner all on his own. Thankfully for Mahomes and the Chiefs, he’s in the single-best situation to be successful because of his coach and the talent around him.
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in the game and knows how to get the most out of his quarterbacks. Have no doubt, Reid will have plays ready for Mahomes to run that nobody has seen before because he has so many weapons to work with.
Those weapons include last year’s NFL leading rusher, Kareem Hunt; possibly the best tight end in the game right now, Travis Kelce; the best down-field threat in the league, Tyreek Hill; and an extreme talent just waiting to explode in the right situation, Sammy Watkins.
Keysor had a piece on The Athletic (I promise they aren’t paying me to mention them, I just truly love their content) about how unstoppable the Chiefs were last year when Hill and Kelce lined up on the same side of the field. Defenses had no clue how to cover both. Now defenses have to figure out how to do it while still covering Watkins on the other side, or mix-and-match any two of the three.
The Chiefs offense is ready to explode and I’ll be shocked if they don’t score 30+ or even 35+ points per game next season.
The one thing that can hold Kansas City back is its defense. Eric Berry is back, which is a plus. Overall, the defense got younger and quicker, which is a plus. Still, though, there is a big question on whether the Chiefs will be able to pressure opposing quarterbacks enough to help out their iffy secondary.
I’ve said this before and I still believe it — all the defense needs to be is “not that bad.” A league-average defense means Mahomes and the Chiefs will not only make the playoffs, they’ll win the division again and make a run at a Super Bowl.