CARSON, CA-Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid is in his 20th season as an NFL head coach. Second-year passer Patrick Mahomes is just the latest in a string of talented throwers that have come under Reid’s quarterbacking philosophy. Mahomes should have comfort knowing that he is in good company.
It is well-documented that Reid knows a thing or two about evaluating quarterback talent. Reid was the maven quarterback guru shaping and masterminding Brett Favre’s signal-calling game into a Hall of Fame career. It didn’t matter to Reid that Philadelphia Eagles fans would boo Donovan McNabb unmercifully during the 1999 NFL Draft when the former Syracuse star was selected as the No. 2 overall pick.
McNabb would lead the Eagles to five NFC championships games and a Super Bowl appearance while earning six Pro Bowl berths. As a rookie head coach, Reid hedge his instincts in picking McNabb over running back Ricky Williams, whom Eagles fans clamored for. For the greater part of 11 seasons, it worked out well for McNabb, Reid, and the Eagles.
And when things faltered, Reid, through his own humanitarian efforts, re-discovered and made use of the gifted Michael Vick when the greatest yard-rushing quarterback in NFL history was basically discarded and dismissed as a dog bounty hunter.
Under the tutelage of Reid, Vick was able to re-tool and resurrect a career that many people thought was over because of the quarterback’s admitted role in dogfighting. Vick thrived under Reid’s West Coast offense, producing his two best seasons (3,018 yards in 2010; 3,303 yards in 2011) as a passer in the league.
Then there is the case for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, whom Reid insisted on taking in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. After meddling through a myriad of ups and downs throughout his career, Foles now has the last laugh as he led the Eagles to a 41-33 win against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
While he got by for a couple of years with game-manager Alex Smith, Reid may have it a home run with his latest prodigy in Mahomes. At least he hopes so. Mahomes, who can toss the ball anywhere on the field with a simple flick of his right wrist, is the reason the Chiefs decided to part ways with Smith. Reid and the Chiefs are banking on the strong-armed Mahomes to deliver big-time results as the team’s top draft pick (No. 10 overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Much like what DeShaun Watson of the Houston Texans and the Eagles’ Carson Wentz a year before, Mahomes is expected to be the next “wow” quarterback in the NFL.
The first real test for the former Texas Tech star was going up against the Los Angeles Chargers and their No. 3 pass defense from 2017. Well, Mahomes wasted no time going after the highly touted secondary, greasing a short pass to speedster Tyreek Hill between a couple of Chargers defenders on his way to a 58 yard-yard touchdown on the Chiefs first series of the game.
“I think there is definitely stuff that we need to keep working on and I have to keep working on,” Mahomes said. “I will see it in film. Even just being out there, there was stuff I could hit and I didn’t. Once instincts where I was protected and I thought I was going to be hit and [WR] Sammy Watkins was wide open and I could have made the throw. Little things like that, I can keep improving in order to keep having success in this league.”
Mahomes finished the game with modest numbers, completing 15 of 27 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. That isn’t too bad of a start to the 2018 season, especially on the road.
“I thought he did a nice job,” Reid said about Mahomes’ performance. “He has things that he has to work on, like everybody, and he knows it. This will be a great learning tool for him as he evaluates the tape. He made plays, he did it with his legs, he did it throwing, he did it with checks. I have a lot of respect for [Chargers Defensive Coordinator] Gus Bradley and his defense. He threw a few things at him and got him a few times and I thought Pat did a nice job of handling it against a very experienced and very good defensive coordinator.”
Hill, who was on the receiving end of three of the four scoring passes that Mahomes tossed, said his quarterback is cool and confident.
“He was very comfortable,” said Hill. “Every time Pat steps into the huddle, he is very comfortable. With the play call he was like, ‘Okay guys, let’s drive this ball down their throat.’ As a receiver, tight end, offensive line we were like, ‘We have a great leader in our huddle.’ Pat showed great confidence, great leadership today and he was awesome.”
Hill and Reid aren’t the only ones taking notice of Mahomes and his potential for greatness. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers gave the young signal-caller high praise.
“I think he has a chance to be a really, really, really awesome player,” Rivers said. “He has some arm power. I’d like to borrow his arm every now and then for some of those throws. He can really throw, and he’s really accurate. I hadn’t seen a ton of him, but he was really accurate today on some of those balls that just came out. He seems to have that he can throw it from any arm angle and he was poised. He was poised. He’s got a chance, and I just wanted to tell him after the game, whether he wanted to hear it from me or not, that he’s got a chance to be really awesome. Just be steady and keep going. He’s still a young player. He was solid today.”