mr. September: Is Patrick Mahomes the best quarterback ever in the NFL’s first month? – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is having a blistering September en route to Sunday’s game at the Indianapolis Colts (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). He has seven touchdown passes, which equals the league lead. He has yet to throw an interception. And his Total QBR of 82.4 is third in the NFL.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the way Mahomes makes football a priority, even during a busy off-season, may help explain why he’s starting the season strong. Reserve quarterback Shane Buechele said his physical training regimen aims to be ready by the time training camp begins. Mahomes attributes it to the way Reid pushes him at training camp.

Regardless of the reason, it’s just September again for Mahomes in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starter. His quick starts were to be expected, but how is he doing in the opening month? Is he the best quarterback of September ever? The numbers make a pretty good thing.

Mahomes’ career September QBR of 86.7 is the highest in the league since the stat was first recorded in 2006. Peyton Manning is second on the list at 78.6, more than eight points behind. Mahomes’ average of 322.6 passing yards per game is 27.2 more than anyone else in the month since at least 1970 (min. 10 such games), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The resume continues. His completion rate (68.8%) is the best of the QBs with at least 500 career attempts in the first month of the season. Perhaps most convincing is his 48-3 touchdown-to-interception differential, giving him September 16 TD passes for each interception. That’s way better than the next quarterback on the list there, Aaron Rodgers at 4.4-1.

It also translates into team success. Kansas City went 13-2 in September, when Mahomes started with a win rate of 86.7 — also the best for the month. Roger Staubach is second among quarterbacks with at least September 15 starts at 22-4 (84.6%).

All of this argues for Mahomes as September’s best quarterback ever, not that he’s been unproductive for the rest of the season.

“I think he always does pretty well,” Reid said.

Indeed, the Chiefs are even better in December, going 17-2 with Mahomes as the starter. That’s the best record month ever for a starting quarterback in NFL history. But statistically, he is at his best in September.

Luck can play a part in that. In last Thursday night’s game, the Los Angeles Chargers could have intercepted Mahomes four times. Defending defender Asante Samuel Jr. dropped two choices. A third was destroyed after a video review and a fourth was nullified by a fine, causing Mahomes to joke afterwards, “I must live well.”

Otherwise, Mahomes was generally good in September. For Reid, his success begins at the start of the off-season, when Mahomes takes a lot of time off for football, despite a schedule that is also packed with commercial shoots, trips to sporting events and family time.

“Football is important [to Mahomes]said Reid. “I think if you ask him, family and football are at the top of the list among the things he does. And so he always will, whether he’s doing a commercial or something. He’s going to bring that to the fore and it won’t interfere with what he’s doing.”

Mahomes rarely misses an off-season training session. This year, he hosted a number of spring pitching sessions involving Chiefs receivers near his Texas off-season home, a particularly important practice after the team turned over much of its pass-catching group.

He is attuned to what Reid and Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy want from him from the start of a season.

“There are times in games where I know which piece is being called before it is called,” said Mahomes. “We’re on the same page so much. So when? [Bieniemy] the piece starts yelling, I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I expected to be called.'”

Tight End Travis Kelce said he was initially apprehensive about how powerful the Chiefs’ passing game would be after they traded receiver Tyreek Hill with the Miami Dolphins in the off-season. Hill is one of the most explosive players in the league and has been the Chiefs’ leading wide receiver for the past six seasons.

Then Kelce went to Texas in the spring and participated in the Mahomes-led workouts.

“When I saw that go down, I knew guys would try their hardest and then it would be fine,” Kelce said.

Mahomes’ 8.7 yards per attempt in September is also the NFL’s best since at least 1970 (min. 300 attempts), and while his 2022 average is slightly lower at 8.0 without Hill downfield, it still ranks number one 5 in the league.

Chiefs training camp practices under Reid are generally efficient. They don’t train against other teams. Battles between players on the field are rare.

Quick starts once the regular season starts usually follows, even before Mahomes became the starter in 2018. The Chiefs started 9-0 in 2013, Reid’s first season. After that, they were 4-0 or 5-0 every season between 2017 and 2020.

Mahomes said that’s no coincidence.

“I think it’s how we do training camp,” Mahomes said. “It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard for everyone, but I think it prepares you to be ready in week 1. Then you go out and just execute it. Coach has a great game plan inside, you have guys flying around ready to go, ready to play a match and not practice against each other.

“We get a lot of reps in the training camp. We’re going up against a really good defense with a good schedule. Then Coach Reid puts us in a lot of game-like situations, where we have to do a two minute drill or we have to drive off the field on a long drive exercise and all these different situations so that when we get to the game you don’t get surprised by things.”

Buechele is also from Texas and trained with Mahomes offseason. He said he saw Mahomes winding down his workout routine to be in optimal shape when he needed it most.

He also said that Mahomes’ communication with Reid is most helpful early in a season, when some teams are still trying to figure out which plays could work in their book and which wouldn’t.

“They just think the same,” Buechele said. “When you’re together that long, you’re kind of like, ‘Oh, it’s third-and-seven, this is what we like here.’ They’ve been talking about that all week, situational stuff, and so they’re always on the same page, which is huge for success on the offensive side.”

A big September from Mahomes this season may have never been more important for the Chiefs, who have seen their AFC West rivals charge up for the off-season. Mahomes answered by throwing 360 yards and five touchdown passes in a season-opening win against the Arizona Cardinals. He then had a pair of TD throws in last week’s win over the Chargers, a result that gave the Chiefs early supremacy in their division.

It’s no surprise. It’s always what they get from their quarterback, at least this time of season.