After a season during which Patrick Mahomes expanded the possibilities of the quarterback position, the Associated Press recognized the obvious: He's already the league's best player.
The 23-year-old was announced as the NFL's 2018 MVP Saturday night at NFL Honors, making Mahomes the youngest recipient of the award since Dan Marino in 1984. It's difficult to find a historical precedent for Mahomes because of his combination of athletic gifts, smarts and creativity, although Marino's early dominance is a fine place to start. They each instantly announced their arrival on the NFL stage as forces of nature that opposing defenses would have to reckon with for more than a decade.
Their styles, of course, are rather different. Mahomes' combination of throws across his body, no-look passes and vertical strikes flummoxed defenses all season. He can change speeds and arm angles like his dad, a former Major League Baseball reliever.
Mahomes finished with 50 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 5,097 yards and 8.8 yards-per-attempt in large part because even the right defensive play calls didn't work. Cornerbacks found themselves out of position because Mahomes' ball arrived so fast. Chiefs receivers, even when covered early in plays, were given extra time by Mahomes' uncanny ability to buy time outside the pocket. After receiving just one impressive start as a rookie, Mahomes showed the maturity of a veteran by reading coverages and looking off defenders. The game appears slow to Mahomes.
There were other worthy alternatives for MVP besides Mahomes. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had one of the greatest from an interior linemen since ... the epic Aaron Donald season of 2017. Drew Brees had one of the best years of his Hall of Fame career, although he slowed down significantly in December. Mahomes' consistency ultimately won him MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year award, to boot.
I grade every game of the season for my QB Index column, and Mahomes didn't have a below average start all season. Defenses occasionally kept quiet for a few quarters, but then he'd explode like when he led the Chiefs to 24 fourth quarter points in the AFC Championship Game. Just one year after Tom Brady became the oldest MVP in league history, Mahomes becomes one of the youngest.