Speaking on Monday after the Chiefs’ training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Kelce attributed their success to Mahomes being on the same level as head coach Andy Reid in understanding every part of the team’s offense.
“I feel like it’s just the intricacies of the offense — the little things,” the tight end explained. “He knows how to teach this thing just as well as Coach Reid does. He knows every single bit of the O-line’s mentality [and] their footwork. The wide receivers — their angles, how they’re tracking the ball, the little things that Coach Reid really understands — have kind of been ingrained in Pat’s head.”
Of course, the reigning league MVP combines that understanding with seemingly inhuman ability on the field.
“Obviously, Pat has the instinctual ability to do things that I’ve never seen anybody else do on a football field,” Kelce observed. “So that’s where he separates himself — and he kind of shows his own personality in that regard. In terms of situational football, understanding the rules of the game, time management — all those things that Coach Reid is the guru of — Pat is as well.
“That’s just being in the same meetings, understanding how Coach Reid does things — and in training camp, just having a countless amount of time to be able to go over all those things.”
Earlier this offseason, Mahomes jokingly accused Kelce of changing routes to get open, crediting his unparalleled talent to do so. But the Chiefs’ longest-tenured player wanted to walk back his quarterback’s comments.
“I’m trying my hardest to just run this thing like Coach Reid dials it up,” claimed Kelce. “You want to get creative — but at the right time and the right moment, that creativity will kind of play itself out. Coach Reid does a great job of putting a lot of work into making these plays make sense to the quarterbacks. So, you don’t want to get off-script too much.
“As much as everybody thinks I’m getting off-script all the time and just getting wide open, for the majority of the part, I’m just running what’s called. And Coach Reid is getting me open in terms of play calls and dialing that thing up against the right defense. All that creative stuff is fun, but for the most part — I would say about 99% of the time — I’m doing what Coach Reid wants me to do.”
Now entering his 11th season, Kelce recognizes that continuing adjustments to the offense magnify the importance of training camp sessions.
“We have a new playbook compared to last year,” he revealed. “That has to keep changing — that has to keep evolving. So getting excited about those opportunities — and really giving those new plays an opportunity to develop? That’s what I get excited about. And I get excited about being around the guys and building this new team together.”
That new team is likely to rely on some younger players on offense to make plays. But Kelce has no reservations about Kansas City’s new pass-catching options.
“I’m excited about every young guy we’ve got here,” he declared. “There’s no, ‘Let’s wait until this guy develops.’ These guys are ready right now. You see them flying out there. Rashee [Rice] had a bunch of great plays today. Noah Gray a great day today. Skyy Moore had three or four touchdowns and some great plays.
“In terms of the young talent we have here, guys are ready to play because they’re putting their nose to the grind — and just getting after it.”
According to Kelce, the young players’ strong moments in camp are simply a continuance of the offseason program and organized team activities. This year’s Chiefs also appear likely to mirror the 2022 squad — in which a dozen players recorded over 100 yards receiving, but only Kelce registered a 1000-yard season. It was his seventh consecutive season over that benchmark.
“We were attacking OTAs,” he recalled, “like it was training camp... That energy of everybody kind of bouncing ideas off of each other [and] getting on the same page, that’s all you want training camp to be. You want it to be a collective agreeance that we’re going to do whatever we can to get this thing right.
“The young guys — I don’t want to say they follow me, but they figured that out real quick. And it makes the game exciting because you know when you go out there and you’re on the same page as the guy next to you, it just makes everything that much more flawless. Everybody gets to touch the rock in this offense.”
Now closing in on his 34th birthday, speculation about how long Kelce can continue his torrid pace continues to make the rounds. He denies there is any designed reduction of his reps at camp — but acknowledged that the Chiefs' deep corps of tight ends does help with managing the workload.
“We’ve got a lot of great tight ends,” he said, “so the reps are going to be passed around a little bit more this year, I assume. And that’s a good thing... The tight end room is so stacked right now. Getting everybody reps to be able to showcase their talents is kind of where we’re at.
“A lot of the coaches know what I can do and know my skillset, but I still want to get as many reps as I possibly can. So, there’s no pulling back at all.”