Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is starting to get into a rhythm with his new team.
It may have taken some time, but after logging 100 receiving yards (and a touchdown) for the second consecutive week during the Chiefs’ 44-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, it’s clear that he and Patrick Mahomes are developing a bit of a rapport.
Smith-Schuster says that his relationship with quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ was forged during offseason workouts in Dallas. But chemistry takes time; it can’t be manufactured overnight.
That is... unless your night is spent playing “Call of Duty” with teammates like Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
“I’m going to tell you what got us the chemistry that we needed this game,” Smith-Schuster told reporters after Sunday’s seven-catch, 124-yard performance. “I think it was Friday night. It was me, Pat, Travis and MVS [that were] were playing ‘Call of Duty.’ We were playing ‘Warzone.’ We played three games — and we won three games back-to-back.”
Here’s a quick tutorial for anyone who is now feeling incredibly old: “Warzone” is a video game played online against players from all around the world. There are 64 players on 16 teams dropped onto the same map. Teams eliminate each other as the map shrinks until there is only one team remaining.
Warzone is — much like football — a complicated game with a simple objective: outlast your opponents until you’re the last team standing. As Smith-Schuster explained, you can’t win without constant communication and an understanding of where your teammates are.
“We got off and were like, ‘Damn,’” Smith-Schuster joked. “It’s really hard to win a game in ‘Warzone.’ You could just tell that the communication between all of us and the chemistry, it was like we were in a [football] game... It kind of just bled into this game.”
Mahomes, however, downplayed his own gaming abilities.
“I don’t play all the time,” Mahomes told reporters. “But some of the guys play. I had a free night on Friday, so I told him, ‘I’ll get on with y’all for a little while.’
“It was me, Travis, Marquez, and JuJu. Marquez and JuJu are really good. Me and Travis are just all right. We did our part and we went three for three with three wins in ‘Warzone,’ which I don’t do often. So I felt pretty good about it going into the game.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. The Chiefs’ offense was firing on all cylinders on Sunday, amassing 529 yards against one of the NFL’s top defenses. Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling (who contributed three receptions for 111 yards) both had their best games in a Chiefs uniform. Mahomes believes that the time he’s spent with his new receivers outside of football is paying dividends on Sundays.
“It’s cool when you get away from the facility,” said Mahomes. “You’re doing kid-like things and you’re on the headset — talking, joking around and talking about the week. It gets your mind off of football. And it’s about building those relationships. So it’s definitely cool to kind of see these guys — even if it’s on the game — outside of the facility.”
As the Chiefs enter their bye week, Mahomes and his teammates should have more free time to once again visit Rebirth Island — and secure another win (or three). If Sunday was any indication, that will be bad news for NFL defenses.