We bring you this week’s version of the Staking The Plains Emergency Roundtable.
seth: Hey you guys. It’s time for week three of the roundtable and I thought we’d start off by talking about everyone’s favorite quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. So, there’s a lot of discussion on STP about his flaws, his injuries and the things that he doesn’t do very well, like footwork and maybe not progressing through his reads (I don’t know how to know this personally, but that appears to be a criticism). In any event, Mahomes’ performance was one that was certainly very mixed on Saturday, to be kind. Brian and I were there at the game and from my vantage point, it was a tough game for him because of TCU’s coverage or you might be on the side that Mahomes still isn’t healthy and/or just isn’t good. I haven’t gone back and watched the game, but we’ve got two folks who were there and two folks who were at home. Would love your opinions.
briandc: So, I think it’s safe to say that Mahomes is a very good quarterback, because one can be incredibly talented and still not do the things that he does. With that said, I think what we saw on Saturday an olio of factors kind of stack up. Throwing 88 passes on a shoulder that’s even 100% is going to take its toll. Tech’s offense often hiccups on the road. TCU’s defense started to click. However, Pat would abandon the pocket & playcall quickly, even if protection was holding up, and he always seemed to be looking for the home run ball instead of just finding yards and staying alive. You take the bad with the good, and there was plenty of bad on Saturday, but I’d say the good overall far outweighs some of the questionable things he does.
michael: The Big 12 didn’t consult me when they scheduled this game, so we had our baby shower right in the middle of it. I was only able to watch the 1st & 4th quarters along with OT. With that in mind, I missed quite a bit of the game that appeared to really highlight a muddling, stalled offense. That first drive with the interception was a soul crusher. I still had confidence in Mahomes after that, but I would put that one in the “trying to do too much” category. Seth, if you go back to watch the game, I would go ahead and skip the 2nd & 3rd quarters. Because of that, I haven’t lost any confidence in Mahomes’ ability, and his arm looks 100%.
meestahrogers: To Brian’s point, it can sometimes be hard to be critical of Mahomes when you consider that there are plenty of healthy quarterbacks that can’t do what Mahomes does on his injured shoulder. There were times when he would bounce from the pocket too quickly or really without a discernible rush. The interception was tough to watch because you saw him rely on raw talent to overcome technical flaws and decision making errors and it bit him. I wouldn’t say I have lost confidence in him, but there are times we see when he tries to do too much and he ends up doing nothing at all. Kingsbury and Mahomes need to figure out how to keep Mahomes balanced and able to rely on the system around him, instead of him feeling like he has to carry the team.
briandc: And I think that’s the big question: is he just not following the script, or is it a bad script to begin with? I’m inclined to think that he’s not trusting the play calling at times, though some of the calls have seemed questionable before. I’d be interested to know how often he checks out of things
seth: And I think these are the two big issues: 1) What is Mahomes checking in or out of? 2) Do we really want to see Mahomes replaced? For me, it’s so tough to say what Mahomes is or isn’t doing. We know for sure that the 5-wide plays, Mahomes is having to pass the ball and we know that Kingsbury would prefer that Mahomes pass than run. But other than that, it’s really an unknown and so we’re left arguing about what he is or isn’t doing when it comes to keeping to the game plan. With point two, I’m in the camp that despite his faults, whatever they are, I want him to play if he’s healthy and from everything we’ve read, he really is healthy. I personally didn’t notice a drop in velocity against TCU, I just thought TCU played terrific defense. And there are very few quarterbacks that can do this.
— Zachary Reed (@ZacharyBReed) October 30, 2016
And maybe that’s the deal is that you’ll see more magical plays with Mahomes than you will with anyone else. I’d also add that there is still the thought that the back-up quarterback is still the most popular player on the team and if and when Shimonek gets the call, we’ll find faults in him and we’ll be begging to put in Duffey.
michael: You’re right, Seth. You will definitely see more magical plays with Mahomes. Even though it can be a bit of feast and famine at times, I can live with it. If Shimonek were to get the nod, I’m sure the same group of folks from a few years ago would come back out of the woodwork pointing out that he doesn’t throw it deep as often as they would like.We can’t really know for sure what decisions he is making at the line of scrimmage, but I know for sure that I do not want to see him replaced. The Kansas State game and even the WVU game had me thinking that Shimonek should’ve played SOLELY for the fact that it appeared Mahomes was not healthy. Overall, I don’t like it when players come back from an injury too soon, even if it could be detrimental to the team in some way. They should take care of themselves and do what they can to be able to enjoy life after football. I’m behind Mahomes, despite his faults, and fully believe he is our guy. Besides, his only real fault is that he “tries too hard”. Aside from that sounding like a stereotypical response someone would use in a job interview, it’s a pretty good quality to have.
meestahrogers: Without knowing everything Mahomes knows in terms of the system, when to check, the actual calls and if everything is executed, we really have no way of knowing what Mahomes is really doing at the line. We can safely assume the play changes if the formation changes, but beyond that it’s pure speculation. And I think I remember hearing about some of those calls at the line actually being dummy calls to deke the defense into going more vanilla. I guess what I’m getting at is it really is a cat and mouse game when it comes to making changes at the line of scrimmage and we really have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on outside of what we’re told.
meestahrogers: To Michael’s point, we really can only safely find fault when Mahomes is missing open check down receivers because he’s locked into going deep downfield or breaks from the pocket when it’s not necessary to do so. In these instances, I think it might be beneficial to sub in Shimonek for a series or so and let Mahomes watch how he progresses through his reads and stands in the pocket. We know Shimonek isn’t the runner Mahomes is and I feel Shimonek trusts the reads more whereas Mahomes will make a read and then bail.
seth: And I wonder too if there’s something about how Kingsbury saw Belichick train his quarterbacks and he’s trying to mold those guys the same way. Be tough on them and they’ll have to be the ones that tap out rather than the coach making the call. It’s kinda weird, but I get the feeling that Kingsbury really is trying to groom Mahomes for the next level, all while trying to win games. And as far as pulling Mahomes, I just don’t think that’s part of Kingsbury’s reality. He’s only pulled quarterbacks for being absolutely dreadful and he, a lot like Leach, will stick to that guy until he’s dreadful too.
briandc: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him have 2 bad games in a row, which bodes well for Saturday. Maybe getting to re-watch the game with Kingsbury will help him realize that he can settle in the pocket a bit more if he gets the ball out quickly. And really, I think that’s what a lot of people want to see: mix in more of the short passes to knock defenses off balance.
michael: I know how I felt after seeing that first drive end in an interception only to be followed up by the defense giving up a 99-yard drive. Maybe he felt the same way, not knowing that the Tech defense would find its footing while TCU would go on to miss three (THREE) field goals, and was doing all he could to keep the floodgates from opening.
briandc: So here’s a question: do you think we’ll see Tech put together a complete game in all phases in any of the remaining games? It seems like it’s either the offense that shows up or the defense. And never the special teams. . .
michael: Bold prediction time: Tech will have a complete game this Saturday against UT. Lock it up! TYFR.
meestahrogers: I would love to see a complete game. We know it’s possible because both the offense and the defense have shown up. Special teams just need not be hot garbage.
seth: I’m pessimistic about this game and we haven’t been able to put together a complete game thus far. I think Mahomes is going to have a good day because UT is dreadful at defending the pass.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is our top-graded QB in college football through Week 9. Here’s a look at his passing chart pic.twitter.com/oZ5vfw1Sa1
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 3, 2016
michael: I can’t explain it, fellas. I’m normally not this optimistic, but I really think we win this one.
Also, that is a beautiful passing chart.