Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs enter the NFL playoffs as heavy favorites to win another Super Bowl. Sitting at a record of 14-2, … Yes, they have Tyreek Hill running by defenses faster than anyone in the league. True, they have Travis Kelce redefining what it is to be a Tight End. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a great fit in the draft, the defense is better than people thought it would be… But the entire franchise sits on the shoulders of the half-a-billion dollar man: Patrick Mahomes.
Patrick Mahomes continues blowing minds week in and week out. Even as you make predictions or wagers, in the back of your mind, you know to never go against Mahomes. Whether it’s jaw-dropping heaves downfield to Hill in stride or sidearm slings to a running-back screen, Mahomes can seemingly do it all. When you have the five pass-catchers covered, he scoots out of the pocket and weaves around defenders for his five yards per carry. Patrick Mahomes feels like a quarterback we’ve never seen before. But he’s not.
Patrick Mahomes has a precedent: Michael Vick in Madden 2004.
Ok, yes- The Patrick Mahomes predecessor was a virtual version of a real person. But Michael Vick in Madden 2004 was every bit as unstoppable as Patrick Mahomes in the NFL in 2020, and vice versa. In fact, Patrick Mahomes in real life (IRL) is eerily comparable to Michael Vick in Madden 2004 (im04).
The Arm Strength
For all it’s worth, Vick im04 was more than just speed. Mike Vick had a throw power of 97 with a throw accuracy rating of 98. For reference? Donovan McNabb’s throw power was a 96. Brett Favre’s throw accuracy was a 94. Vick im04 could effortlessly flick the pigskin 50 yards, on the run, and hit a literal bullseye. Sound like a quarterback you know?
Mahomes IRL has become notorious for a highlight like that every week. He’ll be rolling out to the left and flip the ball to a downfield Tyreek Hill and hit him between the one and zero of his number 10 jersey.
Whether it’s overhanded or underhanded, Mahomes IRL has videogame-like accuracy, paired with surreal arm strength. As you watch him hit wide receivers anywhere on the field, he can even hit folks outside of the stadium.
Vick im04 had a 95-speed rating, an agility rating of 95, and an acceleration of 94. Patrick Mahomes IRL? At the combine, he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash. While that is faster than average, it’s not fast. In his own Draft Class, Mitchell Trubisky (4.67), Deshaun Watson (4.66), and Trevor Knight (4.54) all went faster. The following year, five more young quarterbacks were faster as well. Leg speed appears to be where Mahomes IRL and Vick im04 comparison ends… or is it?
While he may not top out at the 4.33 combine 40-speed that Vick’s Madden rating attempts to mirror, Mahomes IRL agility and acceleration are both incredible. This season, Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy even found ways to get him moving before the ball was snapped to him in an effort to maximize his quickness.
Next Gen Stats demonstrates his faster 40-yard sprint may be when he is moving around. Mahomes lateral quickness and his ability to accelerate in and out of windows offer him the ability to extend plays as he evades defenders.
Patrick Mahomes IRL may do most of his running around behind the line of scrimmage, but he certainly is dangerous when he breaks it. Just ask the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee jumped out 17-7 and looked to be in control of the game. Their rushing attack was slowing the game down and keeping Mahomes off of the field. With four minutes left in the first half, Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for a 20-yard score to bring the Chiefs within three points. Nearly four minutes later, just before halftime, Mahomes broke the Titans’ hearts with his legs. Kansas City took the lead and never looked back.
So yes, when someone says, “Patrick Mahomes is putting up video game numbers,” they’re exactly right. What Patrick Mahomes does on the football field is unprecedented in real life, but avid football fans have seen it before. Michael Vick in Madden 2004 dominated the game in the same way, even if we all thought we’d never see that in real life.
Both Mahomes IRL and Vick im04 had incredible arm strength and power. Mahomes IRL and Vick im04 both had the speed and evasiveness to be a constant threat on the ground. Both Mahomes IRL and Vick im04 created options for play callers that no one else can create.
Both Patrick Mahomes IRL and Michael Vick im04 are other-worldly good. But in the culture surrounding video games, there is a silent code of conduct. If you’re actually any good at the game, you don’t play with cheat codes like Michael Vick im04. Irl? No one can ask the Kansas City Chiefs to not play with Patrick Mahomes. Unfortunately for fans of NFL teams not located in Kansas City, no one is peer pressuring Andy Reid to have gamesmanship and play without Mahomes. No one is going to say, “they’re cheating!” because they use a starting quarterback playing the NFL like a video game.
Truthfully, Vick was so good in Madden that by Madden NFL 06, the game added in “QB vision” as a feature to make him less effective as a passer. Vick’s “cone” of vision was narrower than most, and thus the Atlanta Falcons became less “cheat code” like. It was a handicap: Vick im04 would be running, and if his cone wasn’t on a pass-catcher, they wouldn’t get the ball.
But the vision cone handicap? How does that account for a quarterback that doesn’t have to look where he passes?
It seems like slowing Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs down is both literally and virtually impossible.