Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka gave backup Chad Henne a call on Monday to let him know the good news: for the first time in six years, Henne would be starting in an NFL regular-season game.
“I think he’s excited,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid shared over Zoom on Wednesday. “I always tell him, ‘Act like you’re 20. Try to remember those days and feel it.’
“So, he’s all in. He’s excited, so a great opportunity for him. I mean, these guys love to play the game. That’s the neat part about it. It’s not like guys are ducking out of playing; they all want to get in there and go, but that’s a decision that I had to make there. But Chad’s very excited.”
“It’s cool,” said Henne of Reid’s advice. “I mean, it’s the opportunity. Anytime you get an opportunity to go out there and be the starter in the NFL, you don’t take it for granted and play like you’re 20, it’s just go out there and be like I said, I mean, obviously I’m not 20, I’m 35 right now but I can still move a little bit and hopefully get out there and show some things that I have.”
The last time Henne started a game, it was for the Jacksonville Jaguars, as he backed up their first-round rookie Blake Bortles. After the Jaguars started 0-2, Henne said he knew that he would be on a short leash against Indianapolis. With the Jaguars down 30-0 at halftime, then-head coach Gus Bradley made the change.
Six years later, Henne has continued to patiently wait for another opportunity while serving the Chiefs as the insightful backup to their young franchise quarterback. The competitor in Henne continues to wonder.
“Deep down, always,” he admitted. “When we go out there and practice against the defense each and every day, I try to give them the best look each and every week — and you know, fit throws in there that are tight throws and that you normally do in the game that you have to make. So, I think being prepared all the way through this year with the defense and giving them a look hopefully will prepare me for Sunday.”
The last time Chad Henne played football he did this.— Arrowheads Abroad (@KCChiefs_UK) December 30, 2020
We’ll be fine.
As for Mahomes, he will spend a week as Henne’s backup.
“It’ll be great,” added Henne of Mahomes. “I mean, he’ll be in the game plan, he’ll study the film, he’ll give me some tips, but he’ll be in it, very involved and he’ll help me out just like Matt (Moore) and I helped him out.”
Though the game holds no playoff implications — which led to the start — there is a good deal of historical relevance to the result. At 14-1, the Chiefs have clinched their greatest regular-season record in franchise history.
Henne could push the Chiefs to 15-1.
“I mean — it would be a great opportunity,” said Henne. “I mean not only for myself but for this team, for this franchise. They signed me this past year to come in for these opportunities and just always be ready. So, to give back to them just as they get back to me, would be a tremendous opportunity for me.”
In his final game as a 20-year-old, Henne threw for 270 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for the Michigan Wolverines against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2005 Alamo Bowl.
Per the head coach, Henne will be looking to replicate such a stat line on Sunday.