KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — Based on his one-game rookie season in the NFL, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is more like a redshirt freshman than a sophomore.
That experience makes what Mahomes has accomplished in his second year as a professional all the more spellbinding.
The Chiefs have reached the halfway point of their schedule at 7-1 and Mahomes’ total of seven 300-yard passing games matches the fourth-most by a Kansas City quarterback ... in a career.
His 26 touchdown passes are tied for the fifth-most in a season, and Len Dawson’s team record of 30 set in 1964 shouldn’t last more than another game or two.
Trent Green set the team record for passing yards in a season, with 4,591 in 2004. Mahomes, at an NFL-leading 2,526, is on pace to own that record as well in his first year as a starter.
But this might be the craziest stat of all: Before this season, Chiefs quarterbacks had thrown at least four touchdown passes in a game six times. Mahomes has done that five times this season alone, including three straight games heading into Sunday’s contest at Cleveland.
The Chiefs believed they had something special when they traded up on draft night 2017 and dealt the following year’s first-round pick to select Mahomes. But even the owner of the franchise has been taken aback by Mahomes’ accelerated timetable.
“I think there was a big question mark in all of our minds coming in the year with the transition at quarterback,” Chiefs owner and CEO Clark Hunt said. “We knew that Patrick was very talented, but any time that an NFL teams goes with a young quarterback, usually it’s a very challenging endeavor.
“Sometimes it takes time, several years. But as we’ve seen, (Chiefs coach) Andy (Reid) had Patrick ready to go week one. He’s played outstanding, perhaps at an MVP-caliber level, for the first eight weeks.”
A MVP honor would be a first for the Chiefs as an NFL team. Len Dawson was named AFL MVP in 1962, the last year the franchise was in Dallas, so no Kansas City player has ever won the award.
Hunt’s eyes were opened in the first game when Mahomes passed for four touchdowns at the Los Angeles Chargers. Now, his sense that the Chiefs’ draft-night gamble was the right one grows stronger by the week.
“I think everybody, me included, was pretty excited about his performance,” Hunt said. “The question was, was that a one-time example of his talent or was it something that was going to be consistent game-to-game?
“He’s just shown that every week and has built on it. I think there was some question as defenses and defensive coordinators had a chance to scout him, would they be able to come up with something that would slow him down? And that just hasn’t proven to be the case.”
So where does all this success stack up with other second-year seasons in NFL history? Favorably, as you might imagine.
There’s been a run of excellent second seasons in recent years. The Eagles’ Carson Wentz went 11-2 and set a Philly record with 33 touchdown passes last season before his season ended after just 13 games because of an injury.
Wentz’s replacement clear through the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, former Chiefs backup Nick Foles, delivered the third-best NFL passer rating in league history — 119.2 — in 2013, his second year in the league.
After a rough rookie season, the L.A. Rams’ Jared Goff turned in a Pro Bowl second year in 2017, passing for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns.
But Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino remains the gold standard of sophomore quarterbacks. In 1984, he threw for 5,084 yards, 48 touchdowns and a 108.9 passer rating — numbers that didn’t seem possible at the time.
Marino also was the first second-year quarterback to lead his team to the Super Bowl since 1983. Five others have reached the final game in their second year: Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.
That’s the ambition for the Chiefs, who not only haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the 1969 season but have won only four playoff games since then.
The Chiefs have played like contenders through the first half of the season, and it will be largely up to their second-year quarterback to keep them on track.