After Kansas City’s injury-depleted offensive line was absolutely ripped to bits by the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV, Andy Reid made the interesting decision to replace all five positions with new starters for 2021. It’s worked pretty well in some spots — rookie center Creed Humphrey looks like an automatic Pro Bowler for the next few seasons, and free-agent pickup Joe Thuney was his usual efficient self, allowing just one sack and 16 total pressures on 805 pass-blocking snaps in the regular season.
That hasn’t solved the problem of Patrick Mahomes’ reaction to pressure, though. This season, Mahomes has completed just 42.3% of his passes under pressure (77 of 182) for 1,196 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 69.8 — 16th in the NFL, and just above Jared Goff’s 69.2.
Longer-developing plays have been an attendant issue in 2021 — last season, Mahomes completed 196 of 361 passes on plays in which he had 2.5 or more seconds in the pocket for 2,909 yards, 21 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a passer rating of 92.2. This season, he’s completed 156 of 306 such passes for 2,304 yards, 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a passer rating of 77.8.
Mahomes has been slightly better of late when it comes to deliberation under pressure, but any regression to his earlier ways could have the Chiefs dealing with an uncharacteristically early playoff exit.