Patrick Mahomes revealed something on HBO’s “The Shop” that raised a few eyebrows — especially eyebrows of those around Chicago who’re still waiting for Mitch Trubisky to become a “master of coverages.”
“I didn’t understand how to read defenses until like halfway through last year,” Mahomes said. “I understood how to read coverages, but how to pick up little tendencies defenses do, something Brady and them have done — they know. I was just playing.”
Here’s the clip:
“I didn’t understand how to read defenses until like halfway through last year. I understood how to read coverages, but how to pick up little tendencies defenses do, something Brady and them have done they know, I was just playing” - Patrick Mahomes on #TheShopHBO— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) March 6, 2020
JUST PLAYING pic.twitter.com/q2nBrG7n2U
You can look at this two ways. First: Maybe it’s not so bad that Trubisky still isn’t the “master of coverages” Matt Nagy said he needs to be back in January. We’ll give the benefit of the doubt here to Nagy that he meant Trubisky needs to know how to read defensive tendencies on top of coverages. That’s fine, and if Mahomes only got it halfway through 2019, then maybe Trubisky isn’t far behind.
Or: Mahomes won the MVP — the MVP! — while he was “just playing” in 2018. That’s proof you don’t need to be a true master of reading defenses to have success as a quarterback. Talent comes first; coaching comes second. The Mahomes-Andy Reid pairing, then, was good enough to produce arguably the greatest season a quarterback has ever had while said quarterback didn’t totally know what he was doing yet.
But what Mahomes said isn’t as surprising as it might seem on first glance. Veteran quarterbacks will tell you it takes two or three years for someone to truly understand how to read defenses. It’s a process for a young hotshot: A rookie bursts on to the scene, defenses adjust to his tendencies and skills, and he then has to manage those adjustments.
What we saw in 2018 was Mahomes have immediate success, then figure out how to stay successful in 2019 despite defenses adjusting to him. That’s what quarterbacks in Year 2 or Year 3 should be doing; instead, Trubisky regressed hard his third year in the league.
The Bears can continue to bank on Trubisky's developmental timeline being different than the instant gratification provided by Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. But it's an increasingly difficult bet to justify.
Or maybe the better thing here is to stop comparing Trubisky to Mahomes. One quarterback threw 50 touchdowns without having enough experience to truly read the defenses in front of him; the other has a precarious foothold on his starting job entering Year 4 in the NFL. Mahomes is on track to be an all-time great; Trubisky has at best been about league average.
But we all know that won’t happen. So every time something like this happens — or Mahomes counts to 10 at Soldier Field — it’ll whip up another round of these comparisons. None of which will be favorable to the Bears’ guy.