Throughout the 2022 offseason, it’s been hard to consume Kansas City Chiefs news without mentioning deceased wide receiver Tyreek Hill. How will quarterback Patrick Mahomes continue to produce without his No. 1 wide receiver? Box produced without it?
The real answers to those questions will begin to be revealed when the Chiefs take to the field against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon – this time, without Hill, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, Darrel Williams (and others), but joined by new additions like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones and Isiah Pacheco.
“I can’t wait to see everyone play together for a full game,” head coach Andy Reid told Kansas City reporters on Wednesday. “You just get a taste of it during pre-season.”
Reid said Mahomes took all the changes in stride.
“When we lost the receivers that we lost,” he noted, “he was excited, first of all, to get the new guys: who was he going to get here? And then to take it and to run with him once we sign them – literally take them to where he lives – and go.”
Reid was referring to Mahomes inviting all of his passers to Texas during the first phase of the offseason program — which turned out to be valuable experience for all new players.
“He was very excited to get them in and get them started,” Reid recalled. “And that’s what he did.”
Through that experience, Smith-Schuster said he was building chemistry with Mahomes — just like with tight end Travis Kelce — at a rapid pace.
“I’ve been doing this for a while now,” he said. “Pat and Travis have their chemistry and how they do their little thing; I’m learning as I go. Throughout camp and OTAs – and even now, throughout the week – I’ve learned that. “
The former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver told Kansas City that’s an important skill because Mahomes wide receivers should be able to improvise.
“We are not robots,” he explained. “We don’t just execute what the script says – what the little lines say. At the end of the day, we have to run to open up. And that’s what we do.”
His new quarterback said that’s part of the advantage of having veteran players like Valdes-Scantling, Smith-Schuster and Jones on the roster: they already know how to work with a really good veteran quarterback.
“I think the most important thing [about players] coming from quarterbacks like that — especially when they’ve played for a long time and been great for a long time,” the quarterback observed, “do they understand how to do things the way the quarterback wants . I mean, not like it was written on paper.
“These three guys – every time you tell them something – they make sure to make that adjustment in their routes. They know that’s kind of what they’ve been through for their whole career.
According to Mahomes, that’s not something you see in all veteran receivers.
“Sometimes when you get guys from other places, they just run the route like it’s meant to be run,” he said. “But these guys have a great understanding of not just route management, but also coverage as they manage it – and how that affects everyone.”
The end result should be an offense that will be extremely unpredictable.
“I think there will be like a different player every game who has the big game,” Mahomes said. “It’s not necessarily going to be Tyreek and Travis every week, where it’s like one of the other has a big game – or both. It’s going to be every week, it’s going to be someone different.”
And then Mahomes smiled.
“So I feel sorry for all of you fantasy football guys because they’re going to come from all over the place. So you’re going to have to pick the right person every week.”
Smith-Schuster echoed his quarterback.
“Just know that everyone will be everywhere,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be in every position – inside, outside, you name it. There’s just going to be a lot of stuff that a lot of people will see in Week 1 and be, ‘Wow. D AGREE That’s what leaders are.
But Reid was careful to note that, like any other team in any other season, his team will continue to be a work in progress.
“Every week tells you some kind of new story,” marveled the veteran coach, who is now the only head coach in NFL history to coach two different teams for at least 100 games. “Are you going to continue to progress? Where do you peak? If you take a few dips, how do you handle those?
“So that’s what the seasons present to you. And you have to work through it all. If you haven’t experienced it with certain guys – or the chemistry of all the guys together, working – how is that going to be? Well… we’ll see.
“That’s what’s so unique about it: every year is a little bit different in how they go about it – and you’re excited for that part, to see how it all unfolds.”
But despite being known as a player who never misses an opportunity to remind people he’s been underestimated in the press, Mahomes has denied he’ll come into the season motivated by the league table. offseason that put him behind competing quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow.
“I think you should be motivated every year,” he reminded reporters. “In this league, everybody starts from zero. Everybody has a chance to go there and win the Super Bowl. If you don’t have that motivation every year to win the AFC West, to win the AFC then to win the Super Bowl, then you’re in the wrong profession.
By that standard, Smith-Schuster fits right in with his new quarterback.
“I came here for a reason,” he insisted. “I came here to win. I came to win the Super Bowl.
Wherever it finally ends, this journey (finally) begins on Sunday.