One defensive coordinator believes he found the one glaring flaw in Patrick Mahomes' game.
The coordinator told The Athletic's Mike Sando, as part of Sando's NFL quarterback rankings, the Kansas City Chiefs star can struggle when he has to look off his first read:
"We love Mahomes because of his unorthodox throws, not because of his natural pocket presence. And when that disappears, that is when they lose games. I don’t think that is a 1. I think that is a 2. Nothing against the guy. I love the kid. But take his first read away and what does he do? He runs, he scrambles and he plays streetball."
Early into the 2021 season, it looked like NFL defenses were finally beginning to neutralize Mahmoes a bit. Through seven games, the Chiefs were 3-4, and their starting quarterback had thrown for 2,093 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Twelve had been his previous high for interceptions in a single season.
Kansas City proceeded to win nine of its final 10 games, and Mahomes looked more like the passer who won an MVP in 2018. During that stretch, he had 2,746 passing yards and 19 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Blanketing Mahomes' first read and flushing him from the pocket is obviously one way to make life difficult for him, but his propensity to play "streetball" is one thing that sets him apart from so many of his peers.
The 26-year-old is so good when throwing at the move, and he can release the ball from so many different angles. Just when you think you've removed all of his options, he finds a window.
Mahomes will have to adjust to life without Tyreek Hill in 2022, and he might compensate by improvising even more in the pocket.
Still, one defensive play-caller who said Mahomes is not "the greatest at diagnosing" conceded it may not matter all that much.
"If you’re a matchup-oriented team and you lose one of your top matchup guys like that, it is going to affect how you play," the coach said to Sando. "Maybe he has to adapt a little bit, but I think he has all the makeup to do it.”