As the Kansas City Chiefs continue their preparations for the 2023 season, one question remains unanswered: will the Chiefs ever run a quarterback sneak again?
After dislocating his kneecap on a quarterback sneak in 2019 against the Denver Broncos, Patrick Mahomes missed the following two games — and has not run that play since. Mahomes’ injury has appeared to forever change Kansas City’s approach to short yardage situations.
“Probably because my kneecap was on the side of my leg,” joked the quarterback in his final press appearance of training camp at Missouri Western State University on Thursday. “I think we were doing pretty good until that.”
It is understandable why head coach Andy Reid has consistently avoided quarterback sneaks since then. Since Mahomes is clearly the team’s most essential player, it is crucial that he remains on the field.
So in situations where sneaks are most commonly used, the team has attempted creative replacements similar to Kansas City’s failed play against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday — in which tight end Blake Bell shifted to go under center and take the snap.
“We were really good at it until last year,” Mahomes pointed out. “I mean, last year we didn’t do very well at it — [and] we didn’t get that first one [in the] preseason. We went back and evaluated it. Hopefully, by the time season comes around we can get back to converting those.”
While many believe the sneak to Bell should be eliminated from the playbook, former Kansas City offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz noted that Sunday’s rep might have just been executed poorly.
Saints defense is misaligned on the Chiefs 4th down “QB” sneak. Should have been an easy first down. pic.twitter.com/6qtF6oUzzg— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 14, 2023
Even immediately after the game, Reid was aware of the problem.
“After looking at it on the replay, we probably should have gone to the left — and not the right,” he told reporters. “They ended up pinching on that side — the left side — and we probably could have gone in that direction.”
But if Kansas City elects to return to quarterback sneaks, Mahomes is ready — and confident he can succeed.
“I always want to — because I always say, ‘I haven’t got stopped yet,’” he boasted. “Even the one I got hurt on, I still got the first down.”
Despite Mahomes’ best efforts, Reid still seems pretty adamant about avoiding quarterback sneaks. Or maybe it is as Mahomes suspects: Reid is waiting for a special occasion.
“I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna let me do it unless it’s for the Super Bowl,” Mahomes revealed. “So I might have to call my own number in the Super Bowl — if we get there.”