On Tuesday, Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid told reporters that veteran running back Jerick McKinnon’s teammates look up to him.
“He’s like everybody’s big brother,” said Reid, “and he’s funny. He’s got the high-pitched voice. He’s funny as all get up.”
So when McKinnon was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for December and January, Reid said that McKinnon’s teammates were excited for him.
“Everybody thinks the world of him — and love him,” said the head coach. “Any accolades he gets, they love.”
But McKinnon thinks the award demonstrates something about the organization he now calls home.
“I couldn’t do it without any of my teammates, coaches, supporting staff and stuff like that,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “So it’s a collective effort.”
His quarterback Patrick Mahomes attributes McKinnon’s success to his feel for spacing on the field.
“Yeah, he just knows how to be in the right spot,” said the quarterback. “I think that’s the biggest thing. He has a good sense of the quarterback timing — when to be in there for protection reasons and when to get out.”
Like tight end Travis Kelce, McKinnon was a quarterback in both high school and college, which also helps him recognize when the opposing team is putting pressure. When that happens, he may need to be ready for the ball to come out quickly.
“Whenever he’s hot,” said Mahomes, “he always has his eyes around — and he’s ready to catch the ball.”
But once the nine-year veteran gets the ball in his hands, he shows he is a savvy playmaker.
“He makes special plays when he gets the catch,” noted Mahomes. “He seems like he can get in the end zone almost every single time. He’s just a vet — and a guy that knows what to do whenever he catches the football.”
Jerick McKinnon: Touchdown Machine pic.twitter.com/AitRhjQLMx— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 10, 2023
Even though McKinnon is only a rotational player, he has caught nine touchdown passes in 2022 — which he attributes to pregame preparation.
“Whenever that moment comes,” said the running back. “Just being ready for it. Like you said, last year it was in the playoffs, this year it’s in the last couple of weeks. So you know, just staying ready — staying prepared.”
Part of that is watching what works well for other veterans — and incorporating what you see into your own game. McKinnon has been watching Kelce.
“You know Pat is the best in the league when it comes to scrambling outside the pocket and making magical stuff happen,” he said. “Last year, I saw him and Kelce do a lot of it — so this year, when the opportunity presented itself, I just tried to find a way to get open.”
McKinnon has also been named one of Kansas City’s playoff captains — an honor that means a lot to him.
“That’s probably my favorite accolade of late — just because it is voted by teammates. So it just lets me know what my teammates think of me.
“My characteristics, what I bring to the team — and that everybody somewhat looks up to me? [To] vote me team captain, I definitely appreciate that one. That’s probably the one that I love — and sticks out the most to me.”