Inches are the difference between being a hero or a villain in the NFL. During last week's game against the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney was the latter as a few inches over the line of scrimmage led to a controversial offensive offsides penalty that wiped away the go-ahead touchdown.
The young wide receiver's mental mistake – along with the officials – immediately drew the ire of Chiefs fans everywhere.
With preparations for this week's matchup against the New England Patriots already taking place, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid encourages his young wide receiver to learn from his mistake and move on.
"[Toney's] in a good place," said Reid after Wednesday's practice, "Things happen, so you learn from it, and you move on, and that's where we're at."
Toney entered his third season in the NFL with high hopes as he was projected to be Kansas City's No. 1 wide receiver. However, injuries during training camp derailed his progress, leading to a nightmarish season opener where he dropped three critical passes in a loss to the Detroit Lions.
Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of Toney's struggles as injuries and mental mistakes continued to haunt him throughout the year. In an effort to get him back on track, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes advised his young wideout to own his mistakes and overcome them.
"Just be you," said Mahomes, recounting his words to Toney. "That's all you can do in life or in this league. You're going to make mistakes; stuff is going to happen in your life. How do you accept that adversity and get past it and do it the right way? Caoch Reid preaches that and that's how I roll. If you make one mistake, that's not going to define you; it's going to be how you respond to the mistake."
Regarding the Chiefs' plan to prevent the offensive offsides penalty, rookie receiver Rashee Rice kept it simple: better communication.
"It's always been something that we focus on." Rice began to explain. "So just continue to check with the ref to make sure he knows that I'm on the line of scrimmage. We really just need to communicate with each other as far as the person next to us just to make sure we're all on the same page."
Rice also says that the process for checking with the referees at the line of scrimmage is simple, so it shouldn't be difficult for them to ensure they're behind the line in the future.
"The easiest way is to let someone know you're on the line is pointing forward and pointing backwards if your off," he added.
Although Toney was the biggest culprit last Sunday, the entire Chiefs' receiving corps has been under scrutiny this year for their lack of production, especially in key moments. The good news is that despite their struggles, they still have the confidence of the player that matters the most on the team.
"All the receivers know I believe in them," Mahomes reasserted. "That's how I roll, if you're in this locker room and I see how hard you work, I'm going to trust in you in big moments and I'm going to give you chances to go out there and make plays. From everything I know, their mindset seems like it's in a good spot and they want to go out there and continue to get better and better. I can see how hard they are working out here, and I feel like if we can continue to push through and grind that we'll end up on the other side of it as the season goes on."