KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With spring football comes optimism, and even for a team coming off its most significant turnover in five years, the Chiefs started their offseason program with head coach Andy Reid believing this might be the season that ends with a Super Bowl in Kansas City.
“It’s a little different but it’s kind of exciting,” Reid said. “I look forward to when we can actually work with the kids on the field and get them going that way. There’s great energy, and sometimes change can be good.”
Most of the enthusiasm on a bright, brisk April afternoon exudes from the offense. Even with — or perhaps specifically because of — first-year starter Patrick Mahomes taking over at quarterback, the Chiefs show zero lack of confidence in their ability to become the next greatest show on turf.
“To be honest, I feel like this offense can the best offense in the league,” wide receiver Tyreek Hill said. “We definitely can take the talk off of every defense that we play.”
Tight end Travis Kelce agrees.
“Sky is the limit,” Kelce said when asked how good the offensive can be. “Just on the offensive side of the ball, it is exciting to see where this offense can go and right now we are just growing together.”
Teammates don’t want their high expectations and praise of Mahomes to diminish the contributions of former quarterback Alex Smith. Yet Hill says that Mahomes carries a confidence that belies his 22 years of age. Teammates don’t see an unproven first-year starter; they see a future star ready for the mantle of leadership.
“He believes in us,” Hill said. “I feel like in my heart Pat is going to get the job done. We all know Alex was a great quarterback, but I feel like Pat is going to step in, it’s not going to be like anything is missing.”
Center Mitch Morse said he learned much watching Mahomes in his week 17 performance against Denver.
“I was really impressed with the way he moved out of the pocket,” Morse said. “I didn’t know he had those legs on him and to be able to throw the ball in those contorted weird ways he was throwing that sucker was amazing.”
For his part, Mahomes agrees with his teammates about the potential of the offense. But he defers the credit to the playmakers and offensive line around him.
“I think we can be one of, if not the best offense in the NFL,” Mahomes said. “We have a ton of talent everywhere and we’re deep at every position. I think with the offensive line all coming back pretty much and then having a good stable of running backs, having receivers and tight ends that can make plays, for me it’s all about just getting them the ball and letting them make the plays.”
As productive as the Chiefs offense was a year ago, scoring and rushing yards proved hard to come by during a stretch of six losses in seven games. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz said injuries caught up with offensive line, which in turn slowed down the entire offense.
Yet despite the loss of super sub Zach Fulton via free agency to the Houston Texans, he feels positive about where his position group stands entering offseason workouts.
“All of the same five guys are back, and we’re excited for this year,” Schwartz said. “Obviously the consistency thing, we don’t want to have any down slides, and really just doing our part to allow all those fun, fast guys to do their thing.”
The idea of a lightning-quick offense that can put points on the board definitely excites the big, lumbering guys up front.
“It’s exciting to start this,” Schwartz said. “We’ve got guys across the board that can really make a lot of plays. It’s just all about proving it.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of potential talk for the next few months, and we’re just going to have to show that we’re as good as we should be.”
Even defensive players like Chris Jones are fired up over what the offense might become under Mahomes.
“He’s going to be amazing,” Jones said. “We’re going to light up, baby. We’re going to light it up on offense.”
Despite the rampant optimism on the first day of offseason workouts, some dark clouds remained on the horizon. The new faces joining the team meant teammates had to say goodbye to veterans such as Marcus Peters, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali.
Defensive lineman Allen Bailey said he can’t worry about things such as personnel changes that he can’t control.
“It’s a business at the end of the day,” Bailey said. “I still get to bond with them outside of here, so that’s a good thing about it. New guys come in, you’ve got to adapt and get comfortable with them.”
Everyone who was part of the team on the final day of 2017 season also tastes bitterness over how last season ended. The disappointing home playoff loss to Tennessee serves as a reminder that this franchise has playoff goals that can’t be achieved without winning in January.
“It’s time to get over the hump,” Jones said.