Patrick Mahomes’ world as a starting quarterback was changed drastically when Travis Kelce had to miss the Pittsburgh Steelers game late in 2021 due to recovering from COVID-19.
Leading the Kansas City Chiefs to victory, Mahomes threw three touchdowns in their 36-10 victory. However, given that the Chiefs had Tyreek Hill as their top receiver that day, and Byron Pringle as their leading receiver, Mahomes cannot apply much from that game to his current situation.
With neither of the players still on the team, the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes are set to begin their journey into the unknown on Thursday in a game against the Detroit Lions at Arrowhead Stadium (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC). Unfortunately, tight end Travis Kelce won’t be able to participate due to an injury he sustained in practice during the week.
Skyy Moore, one of the players who is expected to compensate for the loss of Kelce, was unsure of what the offense could become without their long-term tight end.
Moore stated, “It’ll be a little bit different. Everybody will be able to fill in the gaps. Of course, that’s a Hall of Fame tight end, but we’ll be able to do our job and make it to the finish line.”
Mahomes had an impressive performance against the Steelers in 2021 despite being without Kelce, but the numbers show that his stats have declined when Kelce hasn’t been on the field throughout his career.
Mahomes’ career QBR is 79 when Kelce is in the game, compared to 65 when Kelce is not. On average, Mahomes’ yards per attempt is 8.2 when Kelce is playing and 7.2 when he is not. The average air yards of Mahomes’ passes is 8.0 when Kelce is on the field and 6.1 when Kelce is not.
The Andy Reid-favored multiple tight end formations have been heavily utilized by the Chiefs. Last season, they were ranked third in the league for the number of plays that included two or more tight ends.
The Chiefs have the option of deploying multiple tight ends in their offensive sets. Currently, they have two tight ends on their active roster, Noah Gray and Blake Bell. Additionally, there are two additional tight ends on their practice squad who could be promoted to the active roster for their game against the Lions.
Without Kelce, their strength lies in the fact that they have a deep wide receivers group consisting of seven players, one of which is Kadarius Toney, who has recently come back to practice after tearing his meniscus on the first day of training camp.
In 2018, Mahomes’ first season as a starter, he was able to adjust to a different set of skill players, with Kareem Hunt as the lead back and Hill and Sammy Watkins as the primary wide receivers.
In Mahomes’ first season as a starter in 2018, he was able to adjust to the varying skill players, particularly with Kareem Hunt as the primary running back and Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins as the primary wide receivers.
Mahomes has been thriving since everyone else has departed, and in his first season without Hill, he earned his second MVP award.
Without Kelce, Mahomes is going through the biggest transformation of his life – something that he hasn’t experienced before, since Kelce has been a steady presence for him.