Kansas City Chiefs starting right tackle Mitch Schwartz joined former NFL punter Pat McAfee on “The Pat McAfee Show on Monday.
Schwartz’s Chiefs have been fairly quiet this free agency period. Rather than going for a significant splash in free agency, the highlights for the Chiefs have been to retain players like wide receivers Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins on affordable contracts.
“I’d have imagine that benefits us — a veteran team that knows each other,” said Schwartz. “We know Pat (Mahomes) can do whatever he wants out there, but just having thrown to all those guys and having done it the way he has — our offense is pretty robust and so when new receivers come in or new skill guys, it takes awhile to learn everywhere they’re supposed to go.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid requires every player — whether a running back, tight end or wide receiver — to learn every possible offensive position on a given play. Reid would thus favor having an offseason if he had to teach a crop of new players the offense.
As we learned recently, Reid and the Chiefs won’t have the luxury of a typical, complete offseason this time around.
“The formations, they move all over,” added Schwartz. “You know how the offseason is — you install the offense like five different times through OTA phase one, all the way though training camp, so we’re not going to get all those, so having guys that know what to do, [who] can pick it back up quick, I think that’s good for us.”
As one of the five starters on the Chiefs offensive line, Schwartz has the opportunity to protect Mahomes, one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. While fans get the benefit of seeing Mahomes move as the play progresses, Schwartz has his back to the quarterback.
That creates a unique experience. Schwartz is one of the last to learn Mahomes is rolling out to his right, for example.
“I just go off if my defensive end stops trying to beat me, that’s running in the opposite direction, Pat’s probably breaking contain,” said Schwartz. “But the cool thing is we don’t always see everything he does — we’re so busy blocking and trying to make sure our guy doesn’t get to him. We don’t see the crazy stuff as it’s happening, so there’s only a few of those plays where I have been behind him and can actually see him and see what’s going on. So when you go back through Twitter after the game or even the next day when you’re watching film with your coach (Andy Heck) — usually for the offensive line, you watch it from the perspective of behind the play, so you can see what we’re doing a little bit better. [Heck will] show it from the opposite angle, the side angle the skill guys use, and he’ll be like, ‘Just watch this play. See what happens on this one.’ And we’ll be like, ‘Man, I did not know that happened.’ You just don’t see it. Those things are so fun to watch.”
Schwartz added that Mahomes continues to be the player off the field that his teammates have grown accustomed to — despite the extra attention he's getting as NFL fans embrace how historically good he has become.
“What makes him so awesome is that he is the guy be around in the locker room, too,” said Schwartz. “He’s still crazy young — I think I’m seven years older than him or something, but it’s cool that he’s a guy that you want to hang out with. He’s super cool, but he’s also the leader of the team. To be able to kind of blend all those things together, stay normal, stay humble, still be the fiercest competitor I’ve ever seen... I mean whether the guys are shooting basketball or doing something dumb, he still wants to win at that, and obviously that translates on the field.”
By the time the offseason is over, Mahomes will likely have a record NFL contract.
“I don’t think the money part is going to change him,” said Schwartz. “We saw this past offseason, he made plenty of money doing endorsements, and being all over, and he was the same guy coming out of an MVP in his second season at 22 or 23 that he was the year before and won us a Super Bowl.”
In 2020, Schwartz will (already) enter his fifth year in Kansas City, after spending the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns. Schwartz, now 30, recalled his younger days when he did not have a quarterback like Mahomes — or an offense like Reid’s.
“That was one thing in Cleveland that I was young, I didn’t really know any better,” said Schwartz. “I always thought we were going to be good every year and Joe (Thomas) would be a little more pessimistic than I was going into a season because he always had a sense of realistically what our roster was going to look like and how good he thought the team could be, and that was something I didn’t realize or appreciate as a young player.
“You just kind of have that internal optimism...being here now with Pat. It’s awesome. And on the flip side as an offensive lineman, I’m literally protecting the Super Bowl MVP of the league. That puts the onus back on us up front, especially to do our best and give him as much time as possible and we don’t want him to take hits to get hurt, any of that stuff, so it’s a big challenge.”
Schwartz also discussed the Super Bowl parade, living in Kansas City and what he wants to do when he wraps up his playing career. Listen to the full 17-minute interview above or by clicking here.