If you have two quarterbacks, you really don’t have one. That’s coach speak, and in the case of the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs, it’s wrong.
On Sunday, Chiefs fans finally got to see rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes play in a regular season game.
With the clock ticking on the calendar year, the Chiefs were validated in the waning hours of 2017 for a well-orchestrated plan for both the present and for the future.
The Chiefs started 2017 with a bad taste in their mouth. Alex Smith’s 2016 was forgettable and his worst in his tenure at Arrowhead. His season and that of his team ended unceremoniously at home on a night where their defense didn’t allow a touchdown. Andy Reid was non-committal to Smith following the defeat at the hands of the Steelers.
While backtracking and more vehement defense of Smith would soon follow, the April draft didn’t reflect staunch support.
For the first time in 34 years, the Chiefs took a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft and traded up to do it.
In a perceived weak class, three quarterbacks went in the first 12 picks. Patrick Mahomes became a Chief, sandwiched between signal callers Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.
Kansas City sports fans are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s in our DNA. We expect bad things to happen. We have had to use the words snake bitten far too often. Especially with the Chiefs.
This season the organization set out to win with Smith, groom Mahomes, have a peaceful transition of power under center and move forward with a young, cheap quarterback in 2018 (or 2019). They have escaped unscathed, with everyone benefiting from it.
Smith had a career year. Whether it be Mahomes’ presence, the playoff loss last year, confidence in the system, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt or all of these things, he’s positioned both the team and himself favorably moving forward.
Mahomes was given a year to acclimate. By all indications, he has exceeded the expectations of the coaches for his redshirt season. Sunday, we all learned that to be true. Mahomes showed out Sunday. With a lineup held together by the bottom of the roster, on the road, in the cold, against a good defense, Mahomes showed all the tools we hoped he could translate to the NFL. He was poised. He was accurate. He made mostly good decisions. He showed his other-worldly arm talent.
He did nothing to prove he can’t grow into a very good quarterback — even as soon as 2018. With a full offensive line, the likes of Hill, Kelce and Hunt to get the ball to and an offseason for a talented staff to build a plan around him, we’re just seeing the beginning.
I would argue the sample size of NFL action we’ve seen from Mahomes would place him firmly ahead of the draft slot he was taken in 2017 in this upcoming draft. The Chiefs (err, the Bills) will end up picking in the late 20s this year. Same as last. They paid pennies on the dollar to move up compared to the steep cost of what it would take in a quarterback starved market in 2018. They had foresight, and may have got the best of the bunch after a year of development.
They were validated. For their draft decisions and for their decision to stick with Alex Smith for this campaign.
Smith went from his worst year in Kansas City to his best at the absolute perfect time. He has his team geared up to make a playoff run, has put up the best numbers of his career and played his best football.
Barring injury, Alex Smith will be at his highest value entering the 2018 season. The Chiefs will be able recoup top dollar for Smith with an exciting young quarterback prospect ready to take over.
The Chiefs are in good shape in the future and to make a run at the Super Bowl this season. Smith’s best chance in Kansas City might be his last. I hope it ends with a Lombardi trophy. It will be a tall task with likely trips to New England and Pittsburgh.
The consolation is an organization set up as good as it’s been in several years. The Chiefs have two quarterbacks. Anyone need one?