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From 1920 to 2017, only one quarterback in NFL history had a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown season. Peyton Manning did it in 2013.
Patrick Mahomes matched that last season and he has a shot to do it again this year, in his second year as the Kansas City Chiefs’ starter. That’s unbelievable.
If Mahomes keeps up this pace, we have to start wondering if we’re watching the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Mahomes fell off the 50-touchdown pace last week when he didn’t throw one in a win over the Detroit Lions. But he’s on pace for 6,040 yards. And he still leads the NFL with 10 touchdown passes, with no interceptions. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Mahomes gets right back on pace for another 50-touchdown season. Other than perhaps Dan Marino, whose iconic 1984 performance came in his second NFL season, no quarterback in NFL history has had a better start to his career.
The 4-0 Chiefs have become the NFL’s must-watch team due to their reigning MVP quarterback. They face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app. Kansas City’s precocious young quarterback will be the marquee attraction.
Patrick Mahomes could repeat as NFL MVP
It’s hard to put a current, young player in historical perspective. We see that a bit with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels in baseball. Since we don’t know yet how the last 10-12 years of Trout’s career will go, it’s easier to lean on Willie Mays or Babe Ruth when arguing about the greatest player ever. That’s despite Trout having two MVPs, two second-place MVP finishes and one fourth-place finish in seven full seasons. And he’ll finish either first or second this season. Nobody has ever had a stretch like that to start a career.
Since Mahomes has few reasonable comparisons in NFL history, Trout might be the best one for him. What we’re seeing from Mahomes is practically inconceivable. Playing quarterback in the NFL is supposed to be hard, and Mahomes has had no trouble. Through 20 starts over the past two seasons he has 6,607 yards and 60 touchdowns. The Chiefs are 16-4 in his starts. Regression was expected this season for Mahomes because nobody has come close to repeating the type of season he had in 2018, and a quarter into this season he’s arguably better. If you’re picking a quarter-season MVP, Mahomes should win unanimously. He has dominated without his best receiver, Tyreek Hill, who has missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury.
It’s fairly easy to put Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana or Peyton Manning in historical perspective when we debate the greatest quarterbacks ever. We have no idea what to do with Mahomes, even though what he’s doing is the first of its kind.
Mahomes is the face of the NFL
It’s not just that Mahomes is fantastically efficient and putting up unprecedented numbers. He’s fun.
Mahomes has the cannon arm and no-look passes. He has a unique look and a more unique voice. He is a likable personality in a league that prefers its players to show no personality. Given that Patriots fatigue has turned everyone against Tom Brady, Mahomes is clearly the face of the NFL now. He will be for a long time too.
The NFL is also less predictable than Major League Baseball or the NBA. There’s more uncertainty over what will happen next with Mahomes. One big injury could change everything. Sometimes the rest of the league catches up to players. In 2012, did anyone think seven years later Andrew Luck would be retired and Robert Griffin III would be on the path of a career backup?
But right now, Mahomes looks like a future Hall of Famer. He looks like he has the chance to become one of the greatest players ever. That sounds like hyperbole, but he has already done things we’ve never seen before.
It’s impossible to say exactly where Mahomes’ career is headed. For now, just sit back and enjoy the show.
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