Young QBs like Patrick Mahomes have struggled on road vs. Pats
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have had many notable accomplishments in the 19 years of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, and Sunday night’s showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs brings one to the forefront.
The Patriots are 23-0 at home in the regular season against quarterbacks younger than 25 years old, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. It started with a win over Tim Couch and the Cleveland Browns in 2001, while the most recent game to fall into this category was the 2018 opener against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.
Next up: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who became the first player to throw for 10 touchdowns in a team’s first two games. He turned 23 on Sept. 17.
As one would expect from a Belichick-coached team, the Patriots aren’t relying on history to win them a game Sunday night.
“He’s looking like he’s been playing in the league for a few years,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “You’re either a good pocket passer or a scramble quarterback, and obviously he does both well. One thing he does really well, that you don’t see a lot of young quarterbacks do, he tries to protect himself. A lot of runs, it’s him getting out of bounds or getting down a little sooner than expected. He’s a really good quarterback.”
At the same time, Mahomes has only six career starts, so Hightower acknowledged that part of the Patriots’ success Sunday night will be “maybe giving him some things he hasn’t seen before.”
That has helped against other under-25 quarterbacks who have come to Gillette Stadium over the past 19 years, a group including the Rams’ Jared Goff (2016), the Raiders’ Derek Carr (2014), the Colts’ Andrew Luck (2012) and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (2009), among others.
On Sunday night, the quarterback matchup of Brady vs. Mahomes has an age gap of 18 years and 45 days between them. According to Elias, that is the largest age difference between opposing quarterbacks since 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck faced 21-year-old Jameis Winston in 2015 (the gap was 18 years, 103 days).
In practice, the Patriots had 24-year-old practice squad quarterback Danny Etling heave the ball as far as he could down the field — with safeties playing deep — to simulate Mahomes’ uncommon arm strength.
In studying the Chiefs, veteran safety Devin McCourty said Mahomes’ poise has stood out to him, as well as his control over the offense.
“He never really rushes to try to make a play or do the wrong thing,” he said.
While Mahomes hopes to become the first under-25 quarterback to win at Gillette Stadium against Belichick/Brady in the regular season, Joe Flacco (2009 wild-card round) and Mark Sanchez (2010 divisional round) did it in the playoffs.
And the youngest quarterback to win in the regular season at Gillette Stadium since 2001 was Colin Kaepernick (25 years, 43 days). He led the 49ers to a 41-34 win in 2012.
October 13, 2018 at 06:33AM