If there was any pressing concern about quarterback Patrick Mahomes in his debut as the Chiefs starter on Sunday at Los Angeles, a matter he best rectify pronto lest he tempt fate, it was his slide game — or lack thereof — when running the football.
So we turned to the American League leader in steals this year and last, Whit Merrifield of the Royals, for some urgent advice. Which he lightheartedly provided.
“Well, run fast, run away from the guys and then just go like you’re ninja kicking something,” Merrifield said, demonstrating for good measure, “and pull that left leg underneath you, get on that butt.
“It’s really as simple as that. Pat’s an athlete. Be an athlete. It’s fairly simple. Easier said than done, I guess.”
Merrifield chuckled when shown a clip of one of Mahomes’ failures to get down, on a third-and-2 in the first quarter. Mahomes, the son of a former major-league player who played plenty of baseball himself, plowed for a first down, one that led to his 58-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in the 38-28 victory but risked injury.
“Well, there, that was a little late … I’m not sure if he thought he wanted the first-down marker or what, but there was some indecision there,” he said. “It’s not even considered a slide; that’s just a turn.”
If he finds the footwork too complicated, Merrifield had another suggestion that may or may not be advisable.
“Maybe we should teach him how to dive headfirst instead of slide feet-first?” he said, smiling. “Some guys can’t slide feet-first. … I’m a headfirst diver. So, Pat, you need any tips on diving headfirst, you come let me know.”
More seriously, Merrifield is an admirer of Mahomes and figured “he did a pretty solid job for day one” when he threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions to be named AFC offensive player of the week.
Moreover, Merrifield last week was sporting a “PATRICK IS MA’HOMIE” T-shirt he saw at Westside Storey. He had to have it for his fantasy football draft with the hope of plucking Mahomes.
“But he went a little before I could get to him,” he said.
Now, like every other Chiefs fan, he hopes nobody gets to him in a game – starting with Mahomes protecting himself.