Chiefs assistant head coach Brad Childress told a Chicago radio station it took the full season before rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed a comfort level taking snaps underneath center.
“For us to get Pat in that situation where he could play from underneath center, obviously he’s more comfortable in the shotgun, it took 16 games, it took that much time to be able to do that,” Childress said. “And then he was able to put his wares on the field against Denver in the last game of the year against a pretty good defense that was still play a lot of their starters.”
Childress made the remarks during an interview on ESPN Chicago discussing former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. The Bears introduced Nagy as their new head coach this week.
The 61-year-old Childress spoke candidly amid reports he may announce his retirement soon. He said Nagy impressed him as a play caller down the season’s stretch run.
“I thought he was excellent,” Childress said. “I thought he was able to put together openers, the first 15, and keep things off balance and yet within that 15 not be afraid if there was a dent somewhere, if somebody couldn’t answer a question, didn’t have any problem repeating something or going to probe somewhere else.”
In Chicago, Nagy takes over coaching quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. Childress said Mahomes was fortunate to learn behind Alex Smith this season.
“You don’t coach to Patrick, you coach to Alex and then you work with Patrick on the side after practice, during your scout team portions,” Childress said. “But he’s learning every step of the way as he’s watching a guy like Alex prepare.
Childress explained that teaching Mahomes how to play from under center proved a challenge.
“Pat is a little bit of a wild horse rider,” Childress said. “Never took a snap from underneath center his whole college career, and you don’t ever think about the center-quarterback exchange until the ball is on the ground and you’re chasing it around.”
The coach explained that taking the snap from the center means understanding many small nuances in executing properly.
“That’s something, hey, the center could change, he could be blocking back, you could be coming back the other way, going out the other way, those are things you have to master at that position,” Childress said. “You think, wait a minute, should you have master that in little league football? But where we’re at right now in college football, everybody is playing out of the shotgun.”
Both the Bears and Chiefs made aggressive moves in this year’s draft to acquire quarterbacks. Childress says that’s what general managers and coaches must do when they feel a player can be a franchise quarterback.
“If you want a quarterback, if you got a guy that you’re strong on, you sometimes have to go a round to to two rounds above that to go get that guy because there’s a premium on those guys,” Childress said.”