Patriots prepping for big challenge in versatile Mahomes
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — When Bill Belichick was asked Monday what he liked about Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, his answer sounded a lot like everyone else's this season.
"Pretty much everything," Belichick said of the second-year player as the Patriots began preparations for Sunday night's matchup with Kansas City (5-0).
"He gets the ball to all of his receivers quick, quick release, sees things quickly, can extend plays, got a great arm, got a fabulous arm, can throw the ball out of the stadium."
It was glowing praise from a coach that has a track record of finding ways to make things difficult for young quarterbacks.
Belichick will now turn his attention to the 23-year-old Mahomes, who has been the talk of the NFL, throwing for 1,513 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions through five games.
He appeared in just one game last season, leading the Chiefs to a three-point victory in their regular-season finale against the Broncos.
But it was enough for Kansas City to believe Mahomes could be their quarterback and played into its decision to trade Alex Smith to Washington in the offseason.
Mahomes has taken control of Andy Reid's offense, using his legs and arm to lead a group that is averaging a league-best 35 points per game.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said during his weekly radio appearance on Boston's WEEI that young quarterbacks such as Mahomes and rookies Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen are taking advantage of the early opportunities they've gotten.
"A lot of those guys are being thrown into the mix," Brady said. "Some of those guys are playing really well. It's pretty awesome. I was a fourth-string quarterback when I was a rookie, so I was sitting in the stands, eating nachos before games. I wasn't playing. ... Some other guys have had those chances. And when you're thrown into the mix it's really impressive."
It will be a big challenge for New England's defense, which is giving up 366 yards per game and had trouble defending the pass during a 1-2 start to the season.
Patriots cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer said one of the underrated parts of Mahomes' game is his ability to use his legs to set up deep passes.
"With Mahomes in particular, one, he can make all the throws he needs to make, has a very strong arm. He also has a great ability to extend plays, whether he's going to do that running or extending it and scramble to give his receivers time to get open," Boyer said.
"So, we've got to do a great job being where we need to be, using our help in coverage if we have any, and making sure that we're tight on receivers in competitive situations."
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore said he expects Mahomes to be a handful to defend.
"He's a great quarterback," Gilmore said. "He's playing really good right now. He's making some big throws and he's got a lot of good weapons around him. They're 5-0 for a reason."
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