Patrick Mahomes-Jalen Hurts Monday Night Football showdown has Doug Williams excited
The two Black quarterbacks will face off in a Super Bowl rematch
Having been part of the NFL since 1978, Doug Williams usually isn’t one to get excited about games in November because the league’s biggest moments occur later in the calendar, which he knows firsthand.
This week’s Monday Night Football matchup of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, however, does pique Williams’ interest. In a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl participants, which was the first Super Bowl featuring two Black starting quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts of the Eagles and Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs will be in the spotlight again.
And on Monday night, Williams – the first Black quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL draft and the first Black passer to start in the Super Bowl and win the game’s MVP award – will again be rooting for the superstar signal-callers he admires.
From the moment the NFL released the schedule in May, “you knew this one was gonna have a lotta hype around it because you have the teams that were in the last Super Bowl, but the hype is even more because the fans are looking at it like it’s Jalen going against Patrick,” Williams told Andscape in a phone interview Wednesday.
“But it’s really not Jalen versus Patrick. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs. The thing about it is, Jalen and Patrick are so talented. They are two of the main guys, the top guys, the fans want to see. That Super Bowl was so great, and they both played great, so the fans want to see them go at it again. You know what? I do, too.”
Mahomes outshone Hurts, albeit only barely, in leading Kansas City to a 38-35 victory over Philadelphia in Super Bowl LVII in February at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
In only his sixth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Mahomes already owns two Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player awards and two Super Bowl MVP awards. During the past four seasons, Mahomes has led the Chiefs to three Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories. Kansas City has hosted the past five AFC Championship games, setting an NFL record.
This season, the Chiefs (7-2) are in a familiar position. The Chiefs lead the AFC West Division, which they have won seven consecutive seasons, and have the AFC’s best record despite, and there’s no way to sugarcoat this, the poor performance of their wide receivers: The Chiefs’ wideouts lead the league with 21 dropped passes.
Among the positives for Kansas City, it has its best defense since Mahomes has been at the team’s controls. The Chiefs rank second in points per game allowed at 15.9, fourth in yards per game allowed (288.2) and fifth in passing yards per game allowed (176). And, of course, they have the league’s best player, which helps them overcome a lot, Williams said.
“Let me tell you something, what Patrick has done [in his career] has been incredible, and he’s doing it again,” Williams said. “People are talking about the problems they have, saying things aren’t working and they’re not playing the same, but look at where he [Mahomes] has them right now.”
Hurts and the Eagles are well-positioned as well.
When the Chiefs play host to the Eagles at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, they will face their most formidable opponent to this point of the season. Philadelphia (8-1) leads the NFC East, has the league’s best record overall and gives up only 66.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks first in that category.
Last season, Hurts finished second to Mahomes in both voting for the AP MVP award and the All-Pro team at quarterback. While playing spectacularly in guiding the Eagles to the Super Bowl, Hurts silenced his doubters, who claimed he lacked the passing chops to be a successful NFL quarterback, let alone a star.
For his efforts, Eagles franchise owner Jeffrey Lurie rewarded him with a new contract in April. Hurts’ contract has $179.304 million in total guarantees, including $110 million that was guaranteed at signing.
At the time, Hurts’ new deal, in terms of guarantees, was second in NFL history only to the $230 million committed to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Eagles left no doubt: Hurts is their franchise quarterback.
Since receiving his new deal, Hurts continues to play well while playing through a knee injury. Williams isn’t surprised.
“No one is now talking about what Jalen can’t do. You don’t hear that anymore. You know why? Because you can’t argue with what he’s gone out and done on the field,” Williams said. “The throws he makes, the way he leads those guys … that’s who Jalen is.
“And the other thing about Jalen is that he is cool. Jalen is one of the coolest [quarterbacks] you’ll ever see. Just his whole approach. Nothing seems to faze him. He doesn’t get worried about whatever is going on. He just stays calm and does what he has to do. Believe me, those guys around him in the huddle see that.”
The passion for the game that both Mahomes and Hurts display also helps to fuel their success, Williams believes.
“When you look at Patrick, no matter what’s going on, he has a smile on his face,” Williams said. “A lot of guys say they love the game, but Patrick really does. He shows it.
“Same thing with Jalen. Yeah, he’s cool. But Jalen, how hard he works and how tough he is, you don’t work as hard as he does, as they both do, if you don’t love this. Believe me.”
Just as he did before the Super Bowl, Williams declined to pick a winner on Wednesday.
“Nope. Not gonna do that,” Williams said. “I’m supporting both of them. And you better believe I’ll be watching. Looking forward to this one.”
A must-see game in November for Williams? Yep. Hurts and Mahomes have that effect.