Patrick Mahomes: NFL’s expanded jersey number rules make reading defenses harder for QBs

Sep 22, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) motions on the line during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes: NFL’s expanded jersey number rules make reading defenses harder for QBs

In 2021, the NFL loosened its rules about which players can wear which jerseys, allowing defensive players to wear single-digit numbers. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not a fan.

Mahomes told Peyton and Eli Manning on Monday night that it has become harder for quarterbacks to identify the players they need to read now that there’s so much wider a variety of jersey numbers.

“It’s even crazier now because everybody can wear the single digits,” Mahomes said. “We actually go in every week and we really emphasize the numbers because when you’ve got a number like No. 7 playing middle linebacker, that can really mess with your tells for the o-linemen. It looks cool, I’ll give everybody that, but it makes it a little difficult for the QB.”

Mahomes said that early in his career, when linebackers and defensive backs wore different numbers, it was easy to see which personnel grouping the defense had sent into the game. Now it’s harder because you can’t determine the position a player plays based on his jersey number.

“You get these guys who rotate in, and you’ll get a DB who’s in the 40s and a linebacker in single digits,” Mahomes said. “Having to really recognize that quickly.”

Mahomes’ comments echo those of Tom Brady, who said after the NFL implemented the new jersey numbering rule that he saw it as a big advantage for the defense. It’s a rule that defensive players love, and quarterbacks hate.