Mahomes Lights up Baltimore
It would have been more meaningful if the schedule Gods had delivered the Kansas City Chiefs at the Baltimore Ravens in December, but week three’s offering of two of the best teams in the league was revealing. The game featured two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, whose early journey in the league signals a change in how some NFL teams approach the quarterback position.
For decades, pro football was obsessed with pocket passers at the quarterback position. With the Chiefs drafting Mahomes in 2017 and the Ravens adding Jackson in 2018, their offenses have embraced athleticism, running skills and an ability to create and extend plays with the quarterback's feet. Both the Ravens and Chiefs changed their systems to cater for a rookie quarterback on a rookie deal and built their offense around the young quarterback. The Chiefs won a Super Bowl in this window. The Ravens have become an offensive juggernaut with Lamar Jackson at the helm. Each player has won a regular season MVP award. I’ll examine how the transcendent talents got on when they faced off on Monday Night Football and highlight the best of the rest from week three.
Game of the Week: Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens A classic match up, yet hardly a classic contest.
Kansas City was able to do whatever it wanted. The Super Bowl champions set the tempo with an early first quarter Patrick Mahomes shovel touchdown pass - the first of five touchdown passes for Mahomes - and the Chiefs kept total control of the game from thereon in, to run out as 34-20 winners.
You have to keep up when you play the Chiefs. If you miss, they will almost always certainly hit and score a touchdown. Baltimore’s offense could not keep up. It wasn’t even close to doing so.
The execution on offense was poor from the Ravens. The offensive line gave up penalties at key times. Tight end Mark Andrews had an unforgivable drop in the end zone. Lamar Jackson missed plenty of throws and looked pissed. It wasn’t their night. The Ravens were humbled in what was the worst passing game of Jackson’s pro football career. He bears some of the brunt of the blame for last night. According to NFL Research, the Ravens are 0-10 when trailing at halftime since drafting Jackson in 2018.
Baltimore could not get any pressure on Kansas City. The defense was getting drilled and on the field far too quickly, late down by its offense. Patrick Mahomes had so much time and he shredded Ravens. The play design around him is innovative and great. The way the Chiefs came out of the blocks, it was as if they had heard every media pundit tipping the Ravens and thought: just you wait.
Head coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes had all the answers. For most of the night the Chiefs looked on a different planet. The Ravens were left with plenty to think about.
Week 2 Highlights
MVP of the Week: For the third game in a row, Tennessee kicker Stephen Gostkowski won the Titans the game with time expiring. Impressive for a kicker who looked to have a case of the yips when he missed four kicks in a row in week one against Denver.
Comeback of the Week: The Chicago Bears turned to Nick Foles after three quarters of abject muck from Mitchell Trubisky, and Foles threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to steer the Bears to victory over the hapless Atlanta Falcons. Yesterday, the Bears declared Foles their starting quarterback.
Deep Ball: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers went marching on to a 3-0 start with a win over the New Orleans Saints. The game featured one of the most gorgeous deep balls Rodgers has ever thrown and an immaculate catch from Alan Lazard. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s offensive tentacles were all over this win.
Beard Trumps Moustache: Miami Dolphins veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew went at it in the battle of the retro-looking quarterbacks. Minshew could not keep the form of week one and two going and had an ordinary night. For his part, the man dubbed ‘Fitzmagic’ was excellent, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another as the Dolphins won their first game.
NFC West: A banged up 49ers won comprehensively for the second week in a row. The Arizona Cardinals were surprised at home by the Detroit Lions. The L.A. Rams had a terrific comeback against the Buffalo Bills but lost with time running out. Meanwhile, Seattle edged a shootout with the Cowboys to march to 3-0, and clear in the division.
Stat of the Week: The Detroit Lions ended an 11-game losing streak to beat the Arizona Cardinals on the road. The Lions offense showed signs of life and the win eases the pressure somewhat on head coach Matt Patricia.
Headline of the Week: The Sportcasting website asked, How Long Can Adam Gase Last as Head Coach of the New York Jets? The Jets are the worst team in the league and are saddled with a coach who displays no sign of wanting to be a competent NFL coach. It is a short week with New York hosting the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Jets fans need to be put out of their misery. So does Adam Gase.
Cincinnati Joe: Joe Burrow was sacked eights times as the Bengals tied against Philadelphia Eagles. The face of the franchise needs much better protection.
Bradywatch: Tampa Bay notched up a comfortable win over Denver, with Tom Brady throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions with Peyton Manning watching on at Mile High Stadium. Brady threw six passes to his old Patriots chum Rob Gronkowski.
The Modern Age
Football is more interesting since talented college quarterbacks have come in, with savvy NFL teams building an offense around them. The teams that looked to chisel out some of the rough edges and provide their young quarterbacks with a framework and offensive scheme to grow in, have reaped dividends. Winning and being successful is a hard blueprint to argue with. With the NFL being the ultimate copycat league, Patrick Mahomes and even after his subdued Monday night, Lamar Jackson, offer a template for other teams to follow.