It’s a dynamic Chiefs fans haven’t seen in Kansas City in well, forever—a young quarterback in his first full season with a much more experienced mentor backing him up.
New 22-year-old starter Patrick Mahomes will soon begin to work with Chad Henne, a veteran with 10 years of NFL experience to his name.
Henne, 32, said the two met briefly last year while Mahomes visited Jacksonville and he recently texted him to tell him he looked forward to working with him.
“I’ve heard [he has] a pretty strong arm,” Henne said of Mahomes in a conference call Thursday. “[He] can pretty much make any throw. Bright kid.”
Henne has started 53 career games with a quarterback record of 18-35-0. He owns a 59.3 percent career completion percentage, with 58 touchdowns and 63 interceptions.
He had spent the last five seasons in Jacksonville, mentoring the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles. Henne said he helped the young quarterbacks get into a routine, and he even helped serve the Jaguar as a “secondary coach” so to speak.
“They can talk to me,” Henne said. “It’s easy to talk to me obviously as a teammate other than always going to a coach. I can relay that back to the coaches as well. Just kind of a routine, seeing what I see on the field, teach them protections if they need help with that and just go over the game plan and spend a lot of time with them and make sure they’re prepared for each and every Sunday.”
One of the things the Chiefs had to like about Henne is his familiarity with the West Coast offense, which Andy Reid likes to run. Henne has worked in the West Coast system for the last four seasons and said he has the rhythm and throws down.
“Chad has been in this league a long time and has a tremendous feel for the game,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said in a statement released by the team last week. “His experiences and knowledge will be valuable to our quarterback room, and on top of that, he has the physical tools to step in if needed.”
The tools, perhaps, but the recent physical experience, he does not. If there is a glaring downside to Henne as a backup it’s that he hasn’t started a game since the 2014 season.
While he admits that the speed of the game and rapport with the starting skill-position players is tough to hold onto riding the bench, he feels he’d be ready to go in the game if Mahomes were to get injured.
“I think the biggest thing is the maturity factor,” he said. “As you get older, you get smarter. I feel more wisdom, so I’m a smarter player than I was in previous years. Body-wise, physically, I feel better than ever.
“I feel better than I was when I was 22. My diet’s good, I feel stronger than I was, my arm’s still live, so I feel like I’m ready to go if my number’s called.”
Until then, Henne seems content in his role.
“Anything that they need that they can’t be there with us, I’m more than happy to help and make sure Patrick is ready to go and the most prepared quarterback in the league.”