Warren Moon believes in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the NFL playoffs: ‘It starts with that quarterback.’
The Pro Football Hall of Famer sees Kansas City as a team capable of getting to the Super Bowl because of Mahomes’ versatility this season
Whenever the Kansas City Chiefs play, Warren Moon clears his schedule and makes sure to be seated in front of a television.
Although Moon finished his 17-year NFL career with the Chiefs, and he still has friends in the Kansas City area, the Hall of Famer follows the team primarily because of the man who plays Moon’s former position: superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
A longtime student of the art of playing QB, Moon enjoys analyzing the league’s best active passers. And headed into this season’s playoffs, yet again, no one is better than Mahomes at the game’s most important position, Moon said.
In fact, Moon added, Mahomes this season has taken his game to an even higher level.
“This year, he has really shown how versatile he is,” Moon said on the phone Sunday after watching Mahomes lead the Chiefs to a 31-13 rout of the Las Vegas Raiders in the teams’ final game of the regular season.
“He has made the transition from not relying on just one or two guys like in the past. Now, he’s really spreading the ball around to a lot of different people. He got so many people involved this year, which really makes it hard on a defense. He has just had a great year.”
The statistical evidence bears out Moon’s claim.
For starters, Mahomes, 27, established a new NFL record for total yardage in a season by a quarterback with 5,614 yards, eclipsing the previous mark of 5,562 yards set by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints during the 2011-12 season.
Additionally, Mahomes led the NFL in passing yards (a personal-best 5,250 yards), touchdown passes (41), and Total QBR. He was second in passer rating and the five-time Pro Bowler led Kansas City (14-3) to the No. 1 overall seeding for the AFC playoffs.
Mahomes joined Brees and Tom Brady as the only passers in NFL history to have multiple seasons with at least 5,000 passing yards. For a QB, it’s generally a very good thing be on a short list with Brady and Brees.
Throughout the league, it’s widely believed that Mahomes will be selected as this season’s NFL MVP by The Associated Press. As a first-year starter during the 2018-19 season, Mahomes won the award for the first time.
Mahomes’ long list of accomplishments is even more impressive when viewed through this lens: They occurred during the season after the Chiefs traded All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. Not surprisingly, Mahomes used to rely heavily on Hill, arguably the league’s most dominant wideout, and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who had another spectacular season.
From the outset of this season, Mahomes adjusted well to his new-look receiving corps. How well? He teamed with 11 players on touchdown passes. What’s more, Mahomes was in tune with all of the Chiefs’ tight ends and running backs, who caught 28 of his passes for touchdowns.
“When you have touchdown passes to 11 guys, you really show how versatile you are and how patient you’ve become as a quarterback,” said Moon, the only Black passer enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“As teams have played more of that umbrella coverage against the Chiefs, trying to prevent all those big plays they would get, he has been patient and made the right decisions. To throw for more than 5,000 yards after losing a guy like [Hill] and working with a lot of new guys on your team. … that’s very impressive.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid expected Mahomes to make things work without Hill. Again, Mahomes didn’t disappoint.
“It started with Pat,” Reid told reporters after the Chiefs defeated the Raiders. “He got a bunch of new guys that he was going to have to deal with in just a split second, and with accuracy. He was able to do that and get them on the same page.”
As the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed, the Chiefs have a first-round bye. Of course, occupying the pole position doesn’t guarantee victory in a race. The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, among others, could prevent the Chiefs from accomplishing their postseason goals.
In last season’s AFC title game at Kansas City, the Bengals rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to defeat the Chiefs in overtime. This season, the Bengals defeated the visiting Chiefs. Cincinnati has emerged victorious in the teams’ last three matchups, and the Bills defeated the Chiefs in Kansas City this season.
As always, there are no guarantees, “but the Chiefs definitely are capable of getting there [to the Super Bowl],” Moon said. “They have the type of team you could see winning it – and it starts with that quarterback.”
Whether Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl title in four seasons remains to be seen. But this much is a lock: Moon will tune in to watch him try.