Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has accomplished a lot during his first five years as a starter. The quarterback is a tw0-time league MVP, two-time Super Bowl champion, and is at or near the top of just about every statistic known to man. While Patrick Mahomes obviously doesn’t have the longevity of the all-time greats, are his recent performances enough to already earn him the title of GOAT?
Where Does Patrick Mahomes Rank In the GOAT Debate?
General consensus states that the three best quarterbacks in NFL history are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Joe Montana (order them however you like). Needless to say, Mahomes isn’t anywhere close to matching them in longevity, but we can see if his current peak exceeds those three players at the height of their powers.
Comparing players between multiple eras is a difficult task as best, as rule changes over the past few decades have made throwing the ball dramatically easier. Put simply, the game Joe Montana played is dramatically different from the one Patrick Mahomes is playing. However, we can use era-adjusted stats like Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A+) to see how much better each of these quarterbacks is compared to their peers.
Through his first five seasons as Kansas City’s starter, Mahomes’ best era-adjusted season came in 2018 when he finished with a league-leading 136 ANY/A+ (36% above league average) and a 144+ TD%+. He led the league in touchdown rate again in 2022, but 2018 marks the only time he led the league in ANY/A.
Brady’s best statistical season came in 2007 when he led the league with a 142 ANY/A+ and a 153 TD%+. Three seasons later, he once again led the league in ANY/A+ and TD%+ en route to winning his second MVP while becoming the first unanimous selection in NFL history.
Tom Brady and Randy Moss were a lethal combo 🔥🎯 pic.twitter.com/69tgTiTcsz
— Footballism (@FootbaIIism) February 12, 2021
Peyton Manning, meanwhile, just eviscerated the record books from 2004 to 2006. He led the league in ANY/A+ from 2004 to 2006, and led the league in TD%+ in 2004.
Joe Montana, surprisingly enough, only had one season where he led the league in ANY/A+ and TD%+ (1989 – 141 and 132, respectively). However, he was consistently second- or third-best, and he led the league in adjusted completion percentage on five separate occasions.
Adjusting For Situation
Based on this, Patrick Mahomes right now is very similar to Brady, Manning, and Montana at the heights of their respective careers. However, while a quarterback plays the largest role in passing success, football is still a team sport at the end of the day. If Mahomes is more responsible for his teams’ success than his counterparts, then you could make the argument he deserves a higher spot.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to make that argument. Andy Reid is the best offensive mind in football, and he makes life considerably easier on Mahomes. Additionally, the quarterback has always had Travis Kelce, arguably the greatest tight end ever, and had Tyreek Hill for the vast majority of his career. Mahomes is phenomenal, nobody is debating that, but he has played in one of the best situations imaginable.
Similarly, Joe Montana had the benefit of playing under one of the greatest offensive minds of all time in Bill Walsh while throwing to the best receiver ever, Jerry Rice. Manning had a seemingly endless array of elite receivers throughout his career, but never had an elite coach.
Brady had the coach, but only had two seasons with an elite receiver in Randy Moss. Yes, he had Rob Gronkowski for the second half of his career, but the big tight end missed a good amount of time with an ever-expanding list of injuries. Keep in mind that Gronkowski was not on the field in Super Bowl 51, so Brady pulled off that 28-3 comeback with a very pedestrian supporting cast of Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Danny Amendola. On top of that, fair or not, Brady’s success outside of New England and Bill Belichick’s lack of success without Brady makes it appear as though the coach needed the quarterback more than the quarterback needed the coach.
Patrick Mahomes Isn’t the GOAT Yet, But That’s Ok
Through his first five years as a starter, Patrick Mahomes has been roughly as good as the three all-time greats were at their very best. That is fantastic company, but he hasn’t exceeded their level of play. Because of this, the longevity of the aforementioned stars earns them a higher spot on the all-time rankings. There is a strong case to be made that Mahomes is already a top-five quarterback all-time, and if he keeps this up, then he’ll certainly be in the GOAT discussion before long. He’s just not there yet.