Andy Reid has been coaching long enough to know that everybody was going to ask about his new quarterback at the conclusion of the Chiefs’ three-day rookie minicamp on Monday.
So Reid, who kept a watchful eye on Patrick Mahomes II all weekend long — even turning away from the backups at times to advise or answer questions from his first-round rookie — didn’t even wait for a question during his annual post-minicamp presser before diving into the topic of Mahomes.
“I know the question is going to be about the quarterback,” Reid said, shortly after stepping to the microphone. “We saw him come in and improve every day that he was here with his verbiage and his footwork.
“Does he have a ways to go? Absolutely. But the nice thing about him is that we found out that he likes to work and that’s the big thing.”
He also likes to ask questions, and Reid liked that.
“He had great questions,” Reid said. “He studies hard. If he doesn’t know it, he’s going to ask you and then he’s going to go do it. He doesn’t make the same mistake over and over. That’s a plus.”
Mahomes credited the staff for providing an atmosphere that encourages constant communication.
“I’m pretty comfortable — Coach talks to me a lot, he’s trying to push me every single day,” Mahomes said. “With Coach Reid, (offensive coordinator Matt) Nagy and all of the offensive coaches, they’ve all stayed on me to be in every single rep, do my own reps in the back by myself and everything like that.”
Over the course of the three-day period, Mahomes’ chattiness also extended toward his teammates. He could be seen regularly encouraging members of the first-team unit every time they jogged off the field.
“Great quarterbacks make everyone around them better — they take charge of that huddle if an alignment is not right,” Reid said. “You saw him out there moving guys around, you’ve got to be able to do that. You’ve got to make all the guys in that huddle better.”
Mahomes, who arrived in Kansas City with a reputation as a gunslinger, didn’t make an abundance of reckless throws during the three-day period, though he generally stayed true to that persona by consistently testing the intermediate and deep parts of the field.
“I thought he did a nice job with it — he spread the ball around a little bit,” Reid said. “He’s not afraid to throw the ball downfield.”
Mahomes, however, has plenty to work on. His footwork, in particular, remains a work in progress. He needs to grow comfortable with the concept of timing his feet to the receivers’ routes, a longtime staple of the West Coast offense that Reid said was not a priority for Mahomes during his days as Texas Tech.
“He’s getting his drop down – that’s a tough deal even if you’ve done it in college,” Reid said. “That’s not part of that offense.”
Add that to the other demands of the position — like reading the coverage, sensing pressure and delivering the ball accurately — and that’s a lot to work on, especially when you consider the fact Mahomes is just starting the process of reciting Reid’s wordy plays in the huddle, something else he never did in college.
“You give a quarterback three to four years and they start really having a grasp on it — I’m talking about even veteran guys that come in with you,” Reid said. “We throw a lot at them. You’ve got to get to know your receivers, you need to know all those routes and how they operate against all the coverages and then any adjustments we put in. It takes a little bit of time to do that.”
Good thing Mahomes has time, thanks to the presence of starter Alex Smith.
“He’s reached out and we’ve talked a little bit,” Mahomes said. “He’s told me to be ‘all-in’, take in every single rep and be the best you can be at it. He’s a guy whose mind is always going, he’s always thinking about football, he’s a guy that I can really learn behind and he said he would teach me as we go.”
That said, Mahomes was happy with his progress at the end of the camp on Monday, but knows he has a ways to go.
“I don’t know if anything is necessarily hard, but the speed is fast, you have to get adjusted to it,” Mahomes said. “I feel like I’ve done well and I’ve gotten better every single rep.”
Mahomes will now head back to Lubbock, Texas, and return for phase II of the Chiefs’ offseason program, which starts early next week.
“I’m going to go work out and study as much as I can, try to stay on top of things,” Mahomes said. “The older guys, the veterans are still practicing, still doing their stuff. I’ve got to make sure I’m up to speed when I get here next week.”