ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes entered training camp a year ago simply trying to take advantage of every practice he received, and on Monday he takes the field preparing to lead a team for a generation.
“Last year when I was coming in as the third quarterback, you don’t get a lot of reps so you want to make sure you make every one of them count,” Mahomes said. “At the same time when you come in now, as the starter, you want to make sure you make every single rep count so when you get to the season you’re prepared for everything.”
Mahomes says his approach to training camp hasn’t changed since last year, but the way he talks about the offense and the quarterback position shows maturity far beyond his 22 years of age and one game of NFL experience.
Evidence of that growth? The gunslinger says his biggest personal goal for training camp is to emerge as a more efficient quarterback.
“I want to make sure I can get in and out of the huddle fast, we can make the right checks and just really have a lot of positive plays,” Mahomes said. “Not necessarily the huge plays but just have positive plays and move the chains. That’s how you have success in the NFL. You keep taking those yards, taking those yards and then when you have guys that can stretch the field you make those plays and those come within the flow of the game.”
Before his first preseason game last year, Mahomes talked about wanting to make sure players were in the right place. Now he’s thinking strategically, dissecting the best way to beat defenses and weighing the delicate balance between protecting the football and staying aggressive.
As the saying goes, it’s a process.
“I think that’s the challenge for all quarterbacks though,” Mahomes said. “You want to make the big play, you want to throw a touchdown every single play but at the same time you have to know it’s a process. These defenses are good. So you have to make sure you take what they give you and don’t go for the home run every single time.”
One can almost hear the voice of head coach Andy Reid coming out of the mouth of Mahomes. But while Mahomes remains wary of balancing his risk taking, Reid doesn’t want to put limits on his quarterback, at least not in training camp.
“You surely don’t want to stifle that at all,” Reid said. “You want to make sure he continues – one thing he’s blessed with, he’s got good vision. You don’t ever want to stifle that and put him a box with that, allow him to see.”
Reid last season stressed the need for Mahomes to experiment during training camp, testing what he can and cannot get away with in the passing game. Expect the same philosophy this camp as well.
“If there’s an interception here or there, let’s learn from it,” Reid said. “Let’s challenge the offense, not only the player but challenge yourself within the offense and see what you can get away with. If there’s an interception then we’ll fix that but you don’t hesitate. You see it, let’s shoot it and go.”
Mahomes the laboratory pupil understands and embraces that approach.
“So if I throw an interception in practice, I have to learn from that and know I can’t do that again,” Mahomes said. “I feel like this training camp will help me with that, just learning when and when not I can take chances.”
That’s the yin and yang that should play out over the next three and a half weeks in training camp. Mahomes wants to improve he’s efficient and emerge from camp as a more reliable passer. Reid wants his young quarterback to say aggressive and see the whole board.
What the Chiefs hope is that both are the correct approach.
“He can’t be in any better place, man, than with the Kansas City Chiefs and I know he’s fired up about that,” Reid said.