Anatomy of a Play: How Patrick Mahomes put himself in motion on ‘Ferrari Right’
There isn’t much Patrick Mahomes isn’t capable of doing. Make ridiculous sidearm throws all over the field into impossibly tight windows? Check. Throw across his body 50 yards downfield with perfect accuracy? No problem. Run one of the NFL’s most complex offenses like he was born with the playbook? Sure.
But when was the last time you saw a quarterback use pre-snap motion… with himself?
At Touchdown Wire, we’ve written a lot about the benefits of pre-snap motion for an offense (here and here), and the Chiefs have been one of the league’s primary instigators for a long time — certainly since Mahomes took that offense in hand in 2018. Head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy already have a crazy quilt of pre-snap motions and deceptions to work enemy defenses, but the play against the Panthers on Sunday that led to a one-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson with 3:45 left in the first half had a new wrinkle — Mahomes putting himself in motion pre-snap.
Showtime to Honey Thunder for our first touchdown of the game 🙌#CARvsKC on FOX pic.twitter.com/KPtNkCjo50
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 8, 2020
The pre-snap keys are interesting for any defense here. Mahomes, by going in motion, can get a sense of what the defense is going to run (though this close to the end zone, you’re generally getting straight man coverage), and the Panthers had to watch for a direct snap to running back Le’Veon Bell — we’ve already seen the Chiefs do that kind of thing in Super Bowl LIV.
Chiefs really took a play Michigan ran in the 1948 Rose Bowl 😯 @Chiefs pic.twitter.com/VE0gvp0VQV
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 3, 2020
So, that sets the front on edge, as well. Always good to get the defense thinking when all the defense wants to do is dictate. You can see how the defenders followed Bell and where they thought Mahomes might be running, and how Mahomes then booted to the right. By that time, the coverage had busted, and Mahomes had a pitch-and-catch to Robinson. It was a crucial play in Kansas City’s 33-31 win.
So, who was the architect of this bit of twisted genius? Mahomes said after the game that the play was called “Ferrari Right,” and Reid said that Mahomes himself was the guy behind the design.
“[Over] the last three weeks Pat’s been messing around with it, so I told him, I said, ‘We’re going to put it in,’ and he looked at me like I was crazy,” Reid explained, via our sister site, Chiefs Wire. “But he had been doing it and it looked good, so, I said, ‘If it looks good, let’s try it,’ and so we tried it. He goes down there during special teams and he was messing around with a couple of things, so we put it in, and it worked.”
The play started as a way for Mahomes to get warmed up in practice, and then, it became something else altogether.
“You see me in training camp and before practice, taking snaps with centers, and so obviously, I’m doing formations and stuff like that and I started going in motion,” Mahomes said. “After that, I had to go to Tom Melvin, our tight ends coach. and ask if it was legal for me to be in motion — he said [yes], as long as everyone was set. Then after I got that, I took it to special teams and started working with Trav (Travis Kelce) and Tyreek (Hill) on these different plays we could run from it and I had to start throwing little hints to Coach Reid that we needed to try it out, and finally got it in, and it worked out well.”
Receiver Tyreek Hill, who’s often the force multiplier in Kansas City’s motion concepts, was surprised that the play was in the book.
“The crazy thing is, I really didn’t think that play was going to be put in,” Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill told reporters after the game. “But it’s Patrick Mahomes, so. There was one day at practice where he was like, ’10, 10, 10, come over here I’ve got a play for you!’ And I saw him do his counter jet [motion] and I was like, ‘Bro, what are you doing? Why don’t you just line up and snap the ball?’ But it turned out to be a great play.”
Indeed it did, and one wonders what other manner of trickeration the troika of Reid, Bieniemy, and Mahomes might come up with in this fashion.
“His creativity — just him being around Coach Reid,” Hill said, when asked about how Mahomes has expanded his schematic range. “Coach Reid is wearing off on Pat, just the creativity and the ideas that both of them have. It’s just collaborating and EB [Bieniemy] too, EB’s right there in the mix too, so it’s just crazy.
“I know we’re going to have something fun after the bye week.”
The Chiefs do have a Week 10 bye, and they then take on the Raiders on November 22. Which gives Las Vegas defensive coordinator Paul Guenther two weeks to figure out how to keep “Ferrari Right” in the garage.
Good luck with that, Coach.