Michael Jordan won five NBA MVP awards in 15 seasons. LeBron James has won just four MVPs in 17 seasons and counting.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes won the NFL Most Valuable Player award in his first season as a starter in 2018. Last year, Lamar Jackson was just the second unanimous MVP in league history and Mahomes, who missed time with a dislocated kneecap, had to settle for Super Bowl MVP.
This year Mahomes is having another MVP-caliber season. The Chiefs are 11-1 and tied for the best record in football. His 31 touchdowns to two interceptions is the best ratio the league has ever seen, and he’s second in passing yards per game (317.9) and passer rating (113.8).
Mahomes could very well win MVP again this year, making it two in his first three NFL seasons as a starting QB. But over the next decade plus, we could be witnessing the NFL’s version of Jordan or LeBron.
Mahomes is now qualified with enough pass attempts for the NFL’s all-time career list. He currently ranks first all-time in passer rating (110.3) and yards per game (307.6). He’s a generational talent so dominant that his feats are becoming common place. In future seasons, will we watch the MVP award find its way into the hands of another player having a career season, but still not on par with what we watch year after year from Mahomes?
“I think it gets to the point where … I think I heard somebody say they should just name the award after him,” Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman told NFL Media. “Name the MVP award ‘The Mahomes Award.’ Because I feel like, I’m a big LeBron fan, and every year I’m like, this man is averaging 27, eight and eight, and taking his team to the finals — you know what I’m saying? Nobody is doing that. He’s in year 17 or 18, what’s the discussion? The year James Harden won it; LeBron definitely should have won it that year. He had more points than him that year, more assists, more rebounds. I think they do it to the point where they don’t want to just have Pat win it every year or LeBron win it every year. I’m pretty sure Jordan could have won it every single year. It’s like, just name the award after him.”
Maybe the strongest example is the fact that Bill Belichick has won Coach of the Year just three times in his career while being deserving of the award pretty much every season.
It’s early, but what we’re witnessing with Mahomes is a 25-year-old quarterback that is already the best player in football. And it’s not close. The expectation is that won’t change anytime soon because the Chiefs’ coaching staff believes he’s just getting started. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Mahomes is capable of.
“So, we give the keys to the car to the quarterback to allow him to do those things and Pat’s been able to slowly, each year, gotten better at kind of anticipating and understanding what he can get away with, what he needs and how he can get his job done more effectively,” Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka said this week. “So, we just keep feeding him more information, more information, and then he’s able to kind of absorb all that stuff and apply it to who he is as a player.”
And the coaches in Kansas City are not alone. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores beat Mahomes twice in 2018 when he was running Belichick’s defense in New England. As he prepares his team to host Mahomes on Sunday, he said this week that Mahomes is clearly a better player this season than he was two years ago when he won MVP.
Only five quarterbacks have ever averaged over 300 yards passing per game and finish with a passer rating over 110. Tom Brady (2007), Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees (2011), Peyton Manning (2013), and Matt Ryan (2016). Every signal-caller won the MVP that season except Brees.
This season, Mahomes is slated to accomplish that feat for the second time.
Will we get to a point where our jaws will no longer drop? Where we won’t even marvel at the replay of what we just saw? Will the regularity in which Mahomes creates the extraordinary hurt his chances of passing Manning’s record five MVP honors?
“He does this stuff on a daily basis man, and I think we all just get accustomed to what he does,” Hardman said over the phone on Friday. “‘Man, he threw another 40-yarder? OK, that’s cool — that’s Pat — he’s supposed to do that.’ That’s what people say now. How is he supposed to just do that? If another quarterback does what he does, ‘Ohhh man, did you see that!?’ … Man, Pat do that every week. So man, it is what it is.”
Follow James Palmer on Twitter @JamesPalmerTV.