The 2023 season will be the sixth in which quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be the Kansas City Chiefs’ starter.
If he were a normal star quarterback, this could be the year he is finally named the league’s Most Valuable Player — like it was for Peyton Manning. Or it could be the season he sets a league record for touchdown passes — like Tom Brady did in his seventh season. He could be aiming for his first Super Bowl appearance, like Brett Favre had as a fifth-year starter.
Instead, the 27-year-old Mahomes has two NFL MVP awards, a 50-touchdown season and two Lombardi Trophies — one of which he will be defending this year. Kansas City’s quarterback has officially transitioned into being an all-time great at his position — and has arguably established that even before hitting his prime.
But after Mahomes arrived at the team’s training camp at Missouri Western State Univerity in St. Joseph on Tuesday, he made it clear that none of that really matters.
“The theme this year is, ‘How can we keep building?’” he told reporters. “Obviously, we won the Super Bowl last year — and it was amazing — but we still have a lot of young guys. We want to continue to get better and better. [When] you look around the AFC, everyone has gotten better. So we want to continue to build and build — and not be satisfied with last year.”
In the NFL, there’s no greater feat than winning a Super Bowl — unless it’s winning two consecutively. That hasn’t happened since the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004.
“Everybody’s motivated by that,” said Mahomes. “You should be motivated every year in the league; it shouldn’t matter what the last year was. You should be motivated to do it again.
“When you have that parade — when you’ve been through the offseason that I’ve been through — you want to do it again. You only get those opportunities by winning the Super Bowl.”
Doing that will require the team to embrace the constant challenges that will add up to winning another title. While it may hard to imagine that Mahomes can face any new ones, Mahomes insists that head coach Andy Reid still keeps him on his toes.
“He has a new way of challenging me — seemingly every day,” he revealed. “I always feel like I’ve mastered the offense — or I know what he’s thinking at all times. Then he’ll throw a little curve ball to me.
“That’s what makes him such a great coach: he continues to challenge everybody — not just me. I’m sure if you ask Travis [Kelce], Chris Jones — all these guys — they think the same thing. He doesn’t let you be satisfied with where you’re at.”
For his part, the head coach said a quarterback’s work is never done.
“It’s like being a farmer,” he said during his turn with the press on Tuesday. “You just keep on cranking. We’re always trying to give him new challenges with things. He loves that — and loves to attack those sorts of things... Fundamentally, there are always things to work on. He spends a tremendous amount of time at that — and puts a lot of effort into it.”
But of all the challenges facing Mahomes in his seventh season, the hardest may be off the gridiron. Now facing his first training camp as a father of two, he’s already feeling separated from his daughter Sterling and new arrival Patrick III.
“That’s the biggest thing that has changed for me: getting away from the kids,” he noted. “It was so easy for Brittany to go back and forth and be here every day for camp. Now it’s going to be a lot tougher with the two babies.
“I remember [seeing] Sterling waving out the window today. I said, ‘Man, that’s tough.’ She knows what’s going on a little bit more. I think that was kind of the toughest thing. It’s fun here [for] me — but to have the long stretches where I’m not seeing my daughter and my son? That’s definitely the toughest thing about it.”
It’s just one of many challenges Mahomes has on his plate in 2023 — but what else is new? So far in his NFL career, the quarterback has brushed past every obstacle.
And there’s no good reason for that to change now.