First, [Patrick Mahomes] dialed [head coach Andy Reid], then offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. He asked both the same question: Would they mind if he remained in Texas, at his home training base, but invited all of his offensive teammates? He threw in a twist. He didn’t want to hold informal workouts, like many quarterbacks. He wanted to lead Phase 1 of Kansas City’s offseason program, wanted to bond and teach. Both coaches embraced the idea because of what it signified—growth, wherewithal, ownership.
Mahomes had never before adjusted to more than two new receivers. Three free-agent signees—JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson—came to Fort Worth. With input from the coaches and an assist from his private quarterbacks coach, Jeff Christensen, Mahomes devised a schedule with [Travis] Kelce. The group would meet every morning. They would practice routes for between 75 and 90 minutes, searching for timing and rhythm. They would hold virtual meetings with the coaches after that to install the next day’s plays; break down film, sharing insights and preferences; and stay late for anyone needing extra work.
There is a marked difference between playing catch, bonding and planning paintball excursions, vs. legitimately getting the chance to install an offense on a completely “voluntary” basis, away from the team’s facility but with the support of the coaching staff if needed. There would be no running up against time restrictions as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement with the players union. I’m not at all suggesting what the Chiefs did was wrong or that they subverted any rules; I think it was brilliant. Allowing Mahomes’s self-organized offseason workouts to bleed into actual offseason training activities, which Reid then made virtual, gave the team a chance to smooth the transition after an offseason of significant change on the personnel side. It also (likely) allowed them to head into training camp with a higher floor of understanding, which, in a severely truncated period of time that usually hampers a coach’s ability to be creative, is the definition of a winning edge.
I asked one coach not associated with the Chiefs who has been involved in coordinating offenses and building schemes what this kind of advantage would represent elsewhere. The response? “Huge.”
Kansas City Chiefs: Wide Receivers
Patrick Mahomes has been great with whoever he throws to at wide receiver, and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce remains the No. 1 target for the league’s MVP. So it probably doesn’t matter who emerges from the current group of wide receivers because Mahomes will make it work.
JuJu Smith-Schuster led the wideouts last year with 78 catches for 933 yards and three TDs, but he left for New England in free agency. Marquez Valdes-Scantling leads the returnees after a 2022 season with 42 receptions for 687 yards and two TDs.
The rest of the Chiefs’ wide receiver group includes plenty of unproven talent.
There is former Giants first-rounder Kadarius Toney, last year’s Round 2 Chiefs’ pick Skyy Moore and this year’s second-rounder — Rashee Rice. A wild card in the mix is Richie James, who had 57 receptions for 569 yards and four TDs with the Giants last season before signing a one-year deal.
There may not be a Tyreek Hill-type standout in the mix, but you can bet Andy Reid and his staff will make this a productive group. We’ll see who emerges as the starters in the two- and three-receiver formations.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Original Pick: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State
New Pick: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
The defending Super Bowl Champions’ primary goal in the draft last April was to get defensive tackle Chris Jones some help in the pass rush department. That’s why they took Felix Anudike-Uzomah out of nearby Kansas State, however, a couple of injuries have kept the pass-rusher sidelined so he’s disqualified from this exercise.
Instead, the Chiefs are the benefactors of the Eagles going in a different direction during this re-draft as Kansas City nabs Nolan Smith, who has reportedly picked up right where he left off with the Bulldogs, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.
“Smith is a high-energy player, something that is obvious even during 7-on-7 drills,” McManus wrote. “With some of the top edge rushers missing from practice, Smith got plenty of run with the first unit. His quickness stood out and so did his motor. It’s clear he’ll be in full pursuit of the ball carrier until the whistle is blown.”
As previously noted, Eagles’ head coach Nick Siriani has been very happy with both of his first-round picks from Georgia (Smith and Jalen Carter), highlighted by the quote below obtained by NBC Sports’ Dave Zangaro.
“I think you just see their athletic ability and the drill work,” Sirianni said on Smith and Carter. “We’re doing a lot of 7-on-7, not team drills, but they’re getting a lot of individual work. So, you’re seeing the things that we saw, obviously, on tape of what they do well and the power, their athletic ability, their personalities.”
In a quartet of seasons as a Los Angeles Chargers linebacker, Drue Tranquill took the field against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Chiefs on five occasions.
He was part of a winning effort once.
So, Tranquill knows firsthand just how special and spectacular Mahomes is from an opponent’s point of view. But as one of the newest Chiefs, Tranquill’s initial impressions of Mahomes up close as a teammate were hardly numbed by their previous encounters. Like most, Tranquill was wowed by the magnificent Mahomes.
“You just see these highlight throws that are up every year, year after year. Those throws aren’t just one-off things that he makes in a big-time game. He seems to make those throws every day in practice,” Tranquill told NFL Total Access’ Omar Ruiz on Thursday. “Every day I’m either out there or getting a break on the sideline and I’m just like, ‘Wow. What a throw. What a talent.’”
Around the NFL
Richard Sherman didn’t officially retire when he joined Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football coverage team last year.
Nor did Sherman announce his retirement on his recent podcast, but without all the pomp and histrionics it seems as though the five-time Pro Bowler has called it a playing career.
Amid an interview with Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, Sherman recalled trying to cover Philly wide receiver DeVonta Smith, hearing a snap and admitting to himself that 2021 was likely his last season.
“DeVonta must have ran this comeback, and I had him under control, you know what I mean? I was like, ‘Bang, quick jam, easy, got him under control.’ He must have stopped, and I tried to stop. My whole groin says, ‘Snap, snap, snap, snap.’ I said, ‘Oh, whoa. Whoa.’ And then you’re trying to guard him, you’re like chasing him around, like please don’t throw him the ball,” Sherman said. “Our coach was looking at me on the sidelines, like, ‘You want to come out? You want to come out?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but they’re in a hurry-up.’ So, I’m like bailing out. At that moment, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is probably my last year. I don’t got it for these young dudes right now.’”
Tom Brady lost millions in the collapse of cryptocurrency company FTX, for which he served as an “ambassador,” The New York Times reported Friday.
Under an agreement the retired NFL quarterback made with FTX in 2021, he received $30 million in now-worthless stock for his work pitching the company in television ads and at its conference. In step with him at the time was his then-wife, Gisele Bundchen, who received $18 million in stock, per the report.
FTX filed for bankruptcy last November. Its former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, is facing federal fraud-related charges.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
As we’ve previously reported, the docu-series — which takes an inside look at what it’s like to be an NFL quarterback on the field, in the practice facility and at home — is a joint production of Netflix, NFL Films, Mahomes’ 2PM Productions and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions.
The former NFL superstar says that having himself and Mahomes involved as producers of the show helped it from interfering in the lives (or the play) of the quarterbacks it is profiling.
“The last thing we wanted to be was a distraction — and that was our promise,” he said in a New York Post interview published on Friday.
In fact, Manning joked, the quarterbacks asked to participate in future seasons should have a strong motivation to agree.
“Our pitch is, ‘If you do this show, we guarantee you’ll win the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP.’”
Still, he revealed that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid drew the line at having his off-field meetings with Mahomes filmed for the show. That was OK with Manning.
“There’s a trust factor,” he said. “I promised all these guys that anything they didn’t want in it wasn’t gonna be in it.
“These guys had to be comfortable with everything. At the same time, we felt like we wanted to tell the story of what it’s like to be a quarterback and all that goes with it.”
A tweet to make you think
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