It’s only been six starts, but Patrick Mahomes looks like the NFL’s next great quarterback. The Kansas City signal caller leads the league with 14 touchdown passes and has averaged more than 300 passing yards per game this fall. That MVP-like performance has pushed the Chiefs to a 5-0 record and established them as the early frontrunners for the AFC crown.
But with a big game on the line, is he good enough in 2018 to usurp the GOAT?
The 23-year-old Mahomes has shined through the first 30 percent of his season. Meanwhile, last year’s MVP Tom Brady is in the midst of his least efficient campaign in five years. The Patriots quarterback only threw eight interceptions in 2017 but has six through five games. His 7.0 yards per pass is nearly a full yard lower than last year’s mark. And, perhaps most surprisingly, he was unable to crack the Jaguars and Lions defenses to lead comeback wins in Weeks 2 and 3 this fall.
So after Mahomes’ hot start and Brady’s sudden re-entry to the orbit of merely good quarterbacks, it’s no longer such a stretch to ask which player you’d rather have in 2018. But let’s take it a step farther. Your team is trailing by four points. There are 90 seconds on the clock. They’ve got two timeouts and the ball at their own 8-yard line.
Who would you rather give the ball to: Mahomes or Brady?
The case for: Tom Brady
He’s 41 years old, but he’s still the most clutch quarterback the league has ever seen — his fourth-quarter fumble in Super Bowl 52 notwithstanding. And while his 2018 start has been good but not great, Brady has earned the trust to be “the guy” until his arm explodes or he retires, whichever comes first.
I’ll skip the lecture about the many comebacks he’s staged in a legendary career and address the argument against Brady instead. Yes, he’s been underwhelming to start 2018, but so much of that can be explained by an understaffed roster. Josh Gordon didn’t join the team’s active roster until Week 4. Julian Edelman’s PED suspension kept him from the field until Week 5. With Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett threatening exactly no one as WR1s, opposing defenses were able to consistently double- (and triple-) team Rob Gronkowski.
Factor in serious injuries to Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead and a slow start for previously injured rookie Sony Michel, and you’ve got the blueprint for offensive stagnation. Good defenses — particularly the Jaguars but also a Lions team intimately familiar with what makes the Patriots tick thanks to first-year head coach Matt Patricia — didn’t have much trouble exploiting that.
But in Week 5, Brady showed up to demolish the team who eventually got him suspended for the first four games of 2016: the Colts. With a fully stocked wide receiving corps, he carved up an overwhelmed Indianapolis defense with a combination of short screens and deep throws. He threw for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2.5 quarters. He made Josh Gordon look like Randy Moss.
the top is josh gordon, the bottom is randy moss— joon (@joonlee) October 5, 2018
i mean, it's like seeing cole and dylan sprouse for the time pic.twitter.com/9rEztAoz4Y
And while he finished with two interceptions staining his box score, neither one was his fault; each came well into Indianapolis territory after caroming off his intended receivers’ hands:
It was only against the Colts, but Brady appears to be back in working order. And now he may have an honest-to-goodness lead back who can carry drives and rip off the big gains that prevent opponents from loading the field with defensive backs and playing exclusively against the pass.
That means he’s the guy I want to lead my game-winning drive — no matter how impressive Mahomes has been. — Christian D’Andrea
The case for: Patrick Mahomes
Am I going to pick against the GOAT? Yep. I’m picking against the GOAT.
Why? Because it’s 2018 and eventually it’s fair to think somebody is better at the job. Five games into the season, Brady hasn’t had one of his trademark fourth-quarter comebacks or game-winning drives. The Patriots cruised to three wins with leads they built early, and couldn’t climb out of giant holes in their two losses.
The Chiefs haven’t needed to do much digging and the only time they did, Mahomes pulled it off in style. Down 23-13 against the Broncos in the fourth quarter, Mahomes led a 12-play, 95-yard touchdown drive to bring the Chiefs within three. Then he led an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive which included throwing a first down with his left freakin’ hand to snatch away the win.
Patrick Mahomes throws LEFT HANDED to get away from a Von Miller sack!! pic.twitter.com/oAHMSVLt48— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 2, 2018
I know the rule of thumb is “Never count out Touchdown Tom” and that’s definitely fair. Brady’s most recent comeback was shrugging off a 20-10 deficit against the Jaguars in the AFC Championship. He was masterful in his eighth playoff comeback. But then he was on the wrong side of a fourth-quarter swing in the Super Bowl.
Brady was on the sideline as Nick Foles orchestrated a 14-play touchdown drive that took about seven minutes and gave the Eagles a 38-33 lead. The GOAT of comebacks was given 2:21 to do his trademark magic and he promptly fumbled on the second play. The Patriots defense held the Eagles to a field goal and he got one more crack at it with 58 seconds, but he couldn’t quite get it done.
Does that mean he’s washed? No. But is Brady the comeback wizard he was 10 years ago? It’s only logical to assume he’s not quite the same guy.
Five games into the 2018 season, Brady is 22nd in passing yards per game and 13th in passer rating. Mahomes, on the other hand, is putting together MVP numbers so far.
So who do I want behind the wheel if I need a well-orchestrated drive in the final minutes of a game right now in the year 2018? Give me the young gun. — Adam Stites
Which quarterback is your pick?
Your team is trailing and the game is on the line in the 4th quarter. Which QB would you rather have?
This poll is closed
41-year-old Tom Brady
23-year-old Patrick Mahomes