During his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Andy Reid has always preferred to have an experienced veteran serve as his backup quarterback. The last man to hold the job was Chad Henne, who arrived in Kansas City with a decade of NFL experience when he began his five-year stint in 2018.
The next man up is Blaine Gabbert. The St. Louis native (a star quarterback for Parkway West Longhorns of suburban Ballwin) comes to Kansas City by way of the University of Missouri, the first round of the 2011 NFL draft (where, like Patrick Mahomes, he was selected with the 10th overall pick) and five NFL teams: the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When offered the opportunity to join the Chiefs, Gabbert reached out to his network (which, considering the arc of his 12-year NFL career, is pretty large), speaking with former Chiefs like quarterback Chase Daniel and offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore, current Chiefs like tight end Blake Bell — and the just-retired Henne, who praised Reid, Nagy and quarterbacks coach David Girardi.
“He loved it [in Kansas City],” Gabbert said of Henne’s counsel, speaking to reporters after Thursday’s OTA session. “He spoke extremely highly of the entire coaching staff.”
Gabbert said the feedback he got from players who had spent time with the Chiefs was all very good, which made it an easy decision. But he already had a good idea about how Reid does things.
“Coach Reid has always been a coach that I’ve watched from afar — how he handles himself and how he’s handled the organizations that he’s represented,” he noted. “It’s nothing but first class — and it’s been that way since I’ve been here.”
The veteran quarterback seems very happy with his decision.
“It’s been fun,” he said of his experience in Kansas City. “I guess I would say I’m pretty good at learning offenses now. At this point in my career, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. But it’s been a blast; it’s definitely been refreshing.
“Being in the last system for four years — really, five [years], going back to Arizona with Bruce [Arians] — it’s been a nice change of pace.”
It would be easy to dismiss Gabbert. He’s been a backup for almost all of the time since his initial stint with the Jaguars. But as the saying goes, sometimes quantity creates a quality all its own.
“I’ve been a lot of around a lot of teams, a lot of coaches [and] a lot of offensive systems,” he explained. “So just asking — not really the ‘dumb question’ — but just kind of starting conversations on seeing things different ways, doing things different ways just kind of engages people. [I] kind of see a 10,000-foot view of football.”
And during his most recent stop in Tampa Bay, Gabbert worked with some great players.
“I’ve been fortunate the last few years to work with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown [and] Gronk,” he observed. “So I’m just seeing how that level of player worked — and their work habits. I try and help the young guys kind of emulate those work habits and bring them along.”
And, if necessary... step in for Patrick Mahomes.