Gunslinger can be a limited term, and Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens showcases one of several plays it does not apply to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“Gunslinger” isn’t a term that fits Patrick Mahome — not if you’re trying to finely tailor a description of his game. The Chiefs took that time an care not to mislabel Mahomes and discovered he was the best quarterback prospect of the 2017 draft class.
Mahomes has gunslinger tendencies:
- Incredible arm talent.
- Off-platform creativity.
- Improvisational skill.
- Tight-quarters accuracy and daring.
However, a bird with feathers, a beak, and claws, is not automatically an eagle. Gunslingers don’t do a good job of throwing the ball away. They stare down initial reads or force the ball into secondary reads. They put the ball up for grabs.
They’re reckless and recklessness is what happens when quarterbacks too frequently go beyond the line of daring.
Daring: (of a person or action) adventurous or audaciously bold.
Reckless: (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.
My job is to identify these fine lines between adjectives describing players’ games. Mahomes wasn’t reckless enough to describe him as a gunslinger and let the term stick. Mahomes is an incredible physical talent who understands how to apply it aggressively within his limits.
One of several good examples is this 1st and 10 backed up deep in their own territory against the 49ers. This is a trips-left set with Tyreek Hill in the middle of the field running a bubble route and Sammy Watkins (inside) and Chris Conley (outside) running slants.
Gunslingers force the ball into the first read without paying mind to field position or the defender. They let their arm think for them.
Mahomes reads the linebacker, comes off the Watkins slant and pivots to the Conley slant, firing the ball into the open spot where Conley will break. It’s still a tight throw but he reads the situation accurately.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 24, 2018
I also like the throwing mechanics. Although the feet aren’t the textbook method for throwing the football, note how the back foot that’s off the ground is moving backward and to a position where the midpoint is directed to the area Mahomes targets. The foot may not be in the ground but it’s getting Mahomes’ body aligned to the target point.
This is an example of a quarterback whose decision-making is sound based on the defense and his execution is technically correct for the moment — even if the textbook on quarterback mechanics that the media uses isn’t written well enough to encompass it.
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