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“We’re watching a more agile Steve Young,” one NFC East scout told me Sunday after Mahomes dismantled the Steelers. “He’s the future of this league.”
This is not hyperbole. This is not overreaction. This isn’t people saying how good JaMarcus Russell was going to be after he started off well only to disappear. Or a legion of other quarterbacks who have showed promise and then were vaporized by the speed and the pressures of the NFL.
That’s not going to be Mahomes. It’s more likely we are watching the realigning of the quarterback position in the NFL. We are witnessing, firsthand and in real damn life, the potential making of a legend.
Yes, it’s two games, but we have rarely seen two games like the ones Mahomes just played.
Mahomes threw for six touchdowns in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Six.
Remember, this is his first year starting. He was drafted in 2017 out of Texas Tech. As recently as Sept. 3, 2016, he was playing against a team called the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. He threw for four touchdowns in that game. Two years later, he obliterated one of the best franchises in the history of sports.
Of all the great players to face the Steelers, from Ken Stabler to Tom Brady, none of them threw for six scores in Pittsburgh.
His 10 touchdowns so far (six against the Steelers and four against the Chargers in Week 1) are also the most a player has thrown in the first two games of a season in league history.
He threw scoring passes of 15, 19 and five yards in the first quarter alone. He demonstrated every type of pass a quarterback needs to make: touch passes, rockets, dangerous passes, deep passes, swing passes, sideline passes, passes across the middle. It was a clinic put on by a player who is essentially a rookie.
Don Wright/Associated Press
He was 23-of-28 for 326 yards and six scores, with a quarterback rating of 154.8. He spread the ball across the offense, hitting tight end Travis Kelce, receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill. Chris Conley, Kareem Hunt and Demarcus Robinson each had a touchdown catch. The only person who didn’t catch a pass from Mahomes was Andy Reid. He was probably next.
He also has yet to throw an interception this season. This is the kind of poise we’ve rarely seen in rookie quarterbacks. The best recent example is Carson Wentz, but Mahomes has surpassed even him.
What does all this mean? First, Mahomes right now is maybe the most important story of the season.
He appears to be the leader of the next crop of great young throwers, and that’s a big part of why it’s such an important story. The NFL can’t live off the greatness of Brady and Aaron Rodgers forever. You’re not going to generate top ratings with Blake Bortles (no offense).
Mahomes is more than that. He is a superstar, one of those players we will want to watch. A player we must watch.
Another part of what makes Mahomes such an important story is this: Reid saw it coming. That’s why he made the decision to go with Mahomes over capable veteran Alex Smith.
The decision, at the time, in some parts of the league, was highly controversial. Some coaches and front office personnel value steadiness so much they would have never gotten rid of Smith for an unproven Mahomes.
Reid saw it differently. In practice, he saw the explosiveness of Mahomes—the confidence, the skill—and knew he had something special.
Combining Mahomes’ skills with Reid’s play-calling is a match made in NFL heaven.
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Granted, all we’ve seen so far is Mahomes beating up on the Chargers and Steelers. We don’t know how tough of tests those were. But you can also tell from what he’s doing, the way he’s doing it that it projects well against any team, at any time. He’s that good.
Will Mahomes throw four or six touchdowns a game for the rest of the season? No. Hell no. The NFL is a vicious beast. It adapts and morphs, and soon teams will break down every weakness Mahomes has (we may not know what they are yet, but he has them; everyone does) and test him in ways he hasn’t yet been tested.
Some of those tests he will fail. But most of them he will pass.
Again, we are watching the birth of a star.
One of those giant ones, too. The kind that eats planets.
And defenses. Lots of defenses.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.