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Limiting Patrick Mahomes’ impact on the ground will be one of the top priorities for the Buccaneers defense

Kansas City’s all-star quarterback is a dangerous scrambler and can kill a defense when making out-of-structure plays.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patrick Mahomes’ ability to escape the pocket and make plays is one of the many reasons why he is the NFL’s best quarterback.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Patrick Mahomes has elite arm talent and it’s one of the main reasons why he’s one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

Tired, right? The NFL has talked ad nauseam about what Mahomes can do with his arm. As oversaturated as it can get, it’s all deserved. I mean, the dude can sling it.

This aspect of his game is already scary enough, but what takes things to a whole ‘nother level is the fact that Mahomes can move. He’s a very effective scrambler and can absolutely kill a defense when forced to makes plays out of structure.

“Don’t kid yourself,” New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh told NBC’s PFT Live a few days ago. “He’s got tremendous mobility, his arm strength is ridiculous. You have to be relentless all the way through. And understand that there could be a play and a second play that happens just because of his ability to extend plays and make the throws that other people can’t.”

Per Sports Info Solutions, Mahomes finished 2020 with 300 rushing yards on scrambles, which was the fifth-most among quarterbacks. He registered the fifth-most touchdowns (2) and the fourth most first downs (20) when escaping pressure. His mark of .50 EPA/att is third-best among quarterbacks with at least six scrambles on the year.

Mahomes’ mobility also allows the Chiefs offense to do what it does. The RPOs, the bootlegs, etc. are all executed at a high level because of Mahomes’ skill set. For instance, Mahomes has the second-most pass attempts attributed to RPOs and averages .48 EPA/att (including playoffs) on RPOs, which is second-best among quarterbacks with at least seven attempts. His mark of .36 EPA/att on bootlegs is the third-best in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 12 attempts.

This all makes the life of opposing defenses even harder. Mahomes went off for 469 passing yards and three touchdowns back in Week 12, but also ran for 28 yards on four carries. 12 of those yards came on two carries in the fourth quarter that helped close out the game for the Chiefs.

Will the Bucs have an answer for him this time around? They were able to contain Aaron Rodgers pretty well during the NFC Championship game and that’s no small feat.

“It’s just going to take discipline,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David told reporters on Tuesday. “Everybody just latching onto a man whenever we’re in man-to-man or if we’re in zone coverage just matching onto a guy, being able to take away his zones and his reads. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to get to him as quick as you can, as fast as you can, any way you can because he makes magic outside the pocket. That’s definitely something that we have to look out for.”

Like Saleh said, the Bucs will have to be relentless when defending Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, but there’s no doubt that Todd Bowles and Co. know how to be relentless. They went after Mahomes in Week 12 and hit him seven times, sacked him twice, and per SIS, they pressured him on 42% of his dropbacks.

It won’t be easy, but nothing ever is when you’re trying to win a world championship. But as long as the Bucs are relentless, they will have a legitimate shot at the crown.