Red Zone

Ask Terez: Did Patrick Mahomes solidify the starting job in 2018? That, and more...

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: First NFL start was ‘something that I will have to build on’

Kansas City Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks about the Chiefs' 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Dec. 31, 2017. It was Mahome's first regular-season start in the NFL.
Up Next
Kansas City Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks about the Chiefs' 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Dec. 31, 2017. It was Mahome's first regular-season start in the NFL.

Following the KC Chiefs’ 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Sports Authority Field, beat writer Terez A. Paylor answered Twitter questions about Patrick Mahomes’ first start and more.

Yes. Bar none. Patrick Mahomes was out there slinging, the backups were playing their tails off. What more can you ask from a Week 17 game with absolutely no playoff implications?

Over the last five seasons, I’ve been consistent on Alex Smith. Through the ups and downs, I’ve continued to say he is a good quarterback, someone at least half the teams in this league would love to have. He’s done an outstanding job here and he’s raised his game this season. Kudos to him for that. That said, I’d be really surprised if the Chiefs couldn’t at least get a second-round pick for him this offseason. What’s more likely, especially if he plays well in the playoffs, is a second and maybe a third or so. That would be what it would take for me to move on from him. That would give me significant draft capital, which I could use to build young defensive depth, and clear $17 million to spend on positions of need like interior D-line, corner, edge rush, etc.

I’d feel good about taking that gamble, because let’s face it — The Kid looked great Sunday. He was slinging it. And yes, there are some things he needs to improve on. But that guy has moxie, and his ability to throw from different platforms and create something out of nothing is the rarest of traits in the NFL, the great equalizer for a bad offensive line and zero running game. Considering the Chiefs’ O-line is OK and Kareem Hunt is outstanding, it’s scary to think what he could do with an offseason of seasoning and a scheme geared toward his talents. This situation stinks for Alex, who is a great guy and a good quarterback and should be remembered here more fondly as time goes on. But he does have an opportunity to become a legend here with a deep playoff run, and I can’t think of a better story for this postseason, considering the class with which Alex has conducted himself here in Kansas City.

The best evidence of this was the way the receivers quickly learned they could never quit on their routes in the game. With most quarterbacks, if the play breaks down, you know there’s a 97 percent chance the ball isn’t coming your way. But with this guy, the play is never over. When a quarterback can whip absurd throws from different angles at all levels of the defense, you never know when the ball can head your way. And more importantly, you never think you’re out of a game. A 28-3 deficit? Still in it. 24-0? Still in it. Mahomes’ teammates were raving about him after the game, and many of them were fired up and very encouraged. I’ve never seen a team so happy to win a meaningless game. I’ve got to think Mahomes’ play was a reason for that, though I must stress — for the 50th time — the feeling I get is the locker room is 100 percent in support of Alex, who has earned this last opportunity to show what he can do.

I’ve seen a few tweets like this, and while Tyler Bray wasn’t great Sunday, I’m not necessarily sure this spells the end for him in red and gold. I think he’ll leave his options open in free agency, particularly as it relates to a return to Kansas City, and let’s face it — if the Chiefs trade Alex, they’ll need a backup. They’ve already invested a ton of time in developing Bray, and internally you hear he’s really made some strides when it comes to command of the offense. That didn’t show on Sunday. But you’ve still got to keep three quarterbacks on a roster, so even if they sign a veteran to back up Mahomes, Bray could still be a candidate to make the roster. Let’s just see how this plays out.

I need to check the tape, but I couldn’t help but notice than Tanoh Kpassagnon basically swallowed up some guys on Sunday while recording some run stops and a pair of sacks. I’ve been high on Kpassagnon since the draft, when he was an all-juice guy, and on Sunday you got to see why. He still needs to shore up his edge-setting and general football IQ, but if he can tap into his enormous potential I think his ceiling is that of a longer Jason Pierre-Paul. What’s more, I’ve been most encouraged by the attitude with which he’s approached his craft. This is a happy, upbeat guy who I think loves football. I think he’s got a chance to get the most out of his potential. I really do.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid analyzes team’s 27-24 victory at Denver Broncos on Dec. 31, 2017. Reid speaks about some players' injuries as well.

Doubt it. Don’t think they need that motivation. The Chiefs have been waiting for this moment since the bitter home playoff loss to Pittsburgh, and I expect to see a rested, amped-up team Saturday against the Tennessee Titans.

I wouldn’t mind it. Anthony Sherman has long been a player I thought the Chiefs should find a way to use more on offense. He’s a hard-nosed dude who plays with an edge. What’s more, he even looked kind of natural on the inside zone run. Orson Charles’ willingness to block and do the dirty work could earn him a spot on the 2018 roster, in my opinion.

Should have. I’ve never seen a fanbase correct course on a player as quickly as it has with Wilson, someone whose knowledge of the offense and ability to line up at all the receiver spots is immensely valued by the coaching staff. With Chris Conley coming off a torn Achilles, I think the Chiefs should look hard at bringing Wilson — an unrestricted free agent — back in 2018.

I guess you never know. It would make a helluva story, and Jamaal did tweet highlights of himself running wild with the Chiefs a week ago. But at this point, I doubt it would happen, based on the way things ended here — the two sides seemed to disagree about how hurt he was — and the fact Denver would have to basically do Kansas City and Charles a favor by releasing him, and when have the Broncos ever been game to helping a division rival?

Not really, but the popularity of the team — and its relevance, both nationally and locally — matters. Relevant teams mean more eyes see your work, which is always a good thing, professionally. Whether a team wins or not plays a role in that, to a degree, but good work is good work and sooner or later, it pays off.

When I arrived in Kansas City in 2006, I never would have imagined that I’d still be here 12 years later. That said, this is my fifth season covering the Chiefs and I’ve had opportunities to leave, but I’ve elected to stay because I enjoy this city and my coworkers. I’m thankful to work for an editor in Jeff Rosen who lets me be who I am, embraces the work I want to pursue and supports me fully. Being a part of the A-Team remains the best part of my job, given the laughs we share and the unselfish way we help each other. The way Sam, Blair, Vahe, Dave and I all compliment each other is special and helps contribute to the magic of our Facebook Live sessions and podcasts.

That said, Happy New Year everyone. Let’s make 2018 even better than 2017.

The Chiefs celebrate their 27-24 victory over the Denver Broncos