This brief article will detail one play where Patrick Mahomes moved coverage and made a ridiculous throw to give the Chiefs the lead in the AFC title game. There is a twenty second video explanation on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube if you're interested in the short form version. This article will cover the play in more detail than the video.
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Part 1: Deciphers Coverage
In the below screenshot, the Cincinnati Bengals seem to be playing some version of man. In the NFL, teams disguise extensively pre-snap so you never know for certain until the play starts. The first tenth of seconds in plays, we (quarterbacks) key certain defenders, mainly safeties, to decipher the coverage. At the snap, we eyeball the safeties and use our peripheries to feel the rest of the field. Mahomes is seen doing this below and recognizes that it’s Cover 1 Double.
Part 2: Recognizes Safety Cut
After eyeballing the safety, Mahomes starts his progression to the left side of the field (see above screenshot). He notices the double team on Kelce and knows to work back. As he work’s back, Jessie Bates, who is playing as the post high safety, sees Skyy Moore running a mid-crosser route. Traditionally in Cover 1, the post high safety plays deep to provide body presence and support for lengthier route concepts. Inside the redzone, instinctual post high safeties are taught differently. They have the freedom to cut mid-level crossing routes because, in the redzone, there is less vertical grass to defend. Bates does this (see screenshot below) which leaves a void in the deep-middle part of the field and Mahomes takes advantage.
Part 3: Throws Missile
Mahomes processes all the information, sees the void, moves off the spot with a bum ankle and makes an incredible throw under duress. This play exemplifies why he is so elite. He has the unique combination of freakish arm talent and incredibly fast information processing capacity. There is a reason he has taken the Chiefs to three Super Bowls in six years.
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