DENVER — Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has lost starting quarterbacks to injuries before, so he doesn't see any point in dwelling on the loss of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes for the next few weeks after his superstar suffered a dislocated kneecap during a 30-6 win over Denver Thursday night.
“Very seldom do you have an opportunity to look back, and those that do are normally out of the league,” Reid said. "When you're in it, you're only as good as your next game. That's the approach I've always taken. I came up through the Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren system, and that's just the way it was. You kept going.”
Mahomes underwent an MRI Friday morning, and the NFL Network reports the examination showed no significant additional damage in his right knee. The Chiefs were optimistic that if the MRI showed no structural damage in the knee, Mahomes could return in as little as three weeks. Reid couldn't confirm that diagnosis during a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon.
“Patrick has been in the MRI, but we don't have the result of the MRI,” Reid said. “We'll have to get you that.”
But Reid didn't sound like a head coach wallowing in pity after the loss of the team's most important player. The team hopes for a wave of reinforcements with left tackle Eric Fisher, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive tackle Chris Jones likely to return from injuries in the coming weeks. Rookies such as receiver Mecole Hardman, defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and cornerback Rashad Fenton have all seen increased playing time in the wake of the injuries.
“I think all of those are positives,” Reid said. “We're not near where we need to be on this. We've got a ton of room to improve.”
The Chiefs now turn to backup Matt Moore, who only joined the club on Aug. 26 when Chad Henne required surgery for a broken ankle. Henne recently ditched the protective boot he wore following surgery, and Reid said the veteran is “getting close” to returning to practice. But Henne can't return from injured reserve until at least Week 8, so that makes it Moore's show for now.
Reid said Moore has justified the faith the club placed in him in bringing him late in the preseason.
“It's hard to do really the whole thing he's done, just coming in late to us when Chad got hurt and then asking him to pick up this offense, which is pretty complicated,” Reid said. “He's a pro, and he's done a very nice job with it. And then it's hard to be a relief pitcher, but he's done it before. There's a certain way to prep for that, and he understands that and it paid off for him.”
Moore has a career record of 15-15 as a starter in his 13-year NFL career. He has a career completion rate of 59.4 percent with 46 touchdowns to 36 interceptions with a passer rating of 81.2.
“You saw production from him for a number of years,” Reid said. “There's always that question. He was in those situations where people debate he should be the starter or the other guy should be the starter wherever he was. You saw that ability to be able to start football games and win.”
Reid has experience navigating the loss of a star quarterback. His Philadelphia Eagles squad stood 7-3 in 2002 when quarterback Donovan McNabb suffered a broken ankle. A dominating defense helped spark backup quarterbacks A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer to a 5-1 record during McNabb's absence. McNabb returned to the club for the postseason, which ended with a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.
His message to his players then, as it is now, is that they're in the league for a reason – they're among the best players in the world, and it's time to prove it.
“This son of a gun doesn't slow down for anybody or anything,” Reid said. “The NFL keeps rolling, we're still going to have games, and if you're in the league and you're a player, you're expected to step up and play.”