Patrick Mahomes 2021 film review: What can we learn from last season?
Sifting through the charting of a thousand-plus snaps to address narratives, find trends, and look ahead to 2022.
2021 was the strangest of Patrick Mahomes’ career.
Let’s start there, with a little background.
Since 2013 I’ve spent an inordinate (some might say unhealthy) amount of my time trying to properly contextualize the quarterback play of the Kansas City Chiefs. This started with Alex Smith and has continued during the Patrick Mahomes era. My goal-turned-seriously-this-is-not-healthy obsession has been to break down in a tangible way how the quarterback played separate from what the other guys on the team did. You know, go beyond the box score (one of the main points of this substack), because those numbers often fail to tell a real story.
I set out years ago to try and find a way to quantify what really matters from a quarterback’s play: Accuracy, pocket presence, vision/awareness, playmaking, and ball protection. If a quarterback does these things well, he’ll consistently play well. And so what’s what we look at every week (or almost every week) here. Some weeks, it’s the most fun you could possible have.
Other weeks, such as the article following the inexplicable meltdown against the Bengals in the AFC Championship, are significantly less fun. But all of them contain important information, detailing what occurs on each snap and separating the play of Mahomes (or any other QB we’re charting) from what is happening around him. Only then can we really answer the all-important “how good is he, really” question.
We can also take that mountain of information and learn a bunch of other things, which is what we’re doing here today. This brings me back to my initial point; 2021 was the strangest year of Mahomes’ career. It featured the best game he’s ever played (see that Bills game above), along with the worst (and both by a decent-sized margin). It featured a complete shift in his offensive line and, midseason, a forced change in the entire team’s style of play. And of course, it featured a lot of Mahomes playing the game in a style different than anyone else.
And through it all, we were here charting every snap, every week week, looking at things the QB controls: Plays/yards created, franchise-QB throws, accuracy rates, missed receivers, happy feet, flushes, etc. (all of which are defined here, if you’re unfamiliar with the process)… it’s basically “what did Patrick Mahomes do in 2021” separated from the box score.
Yes, I have a sickness. But if you’re reading this, so do you. So let’s talk about the final numbers for Mahomes in 2021, how it all averaged out compared to previous years, and what we saw week in and week out that might tell us something about 2022 and beyond. Let’s have some fun.