If you were skeptical about Patrick Mahomes’ potential to build on his league MVP season, early looks from the first weekend of training camp should change your mind.
Mahomes spent the afternoon wowing a record-setting crowd of fans who made the trip to St. Joseph for the beginning of what might be the most highly anticipated season in team history. The throws he made during the team practice dropped jaws as aired out passes to Tyreek Hill, who was gaining multiple steps on the secondary. Mahomes’ passes to Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and the rest of the receiving corps were delivered on a rope through coverage on multiple occasions.
Mahomes started his magic show before practice began throwing target practice with his left hand and behind the back. He capitalized the off-handed throwing by drilling a ball off of the goal post crossbar.
With the pressure of being the reigning MVP, the cover athlete for this year’s edition of the Madden franchise and the face of an organization starving to win a championship, it wouldn’t be crazy to think he might regress from his 50-touchdown, 5,000-yard season.
There’s no evidence to suggest regression is on the horizon for Mahomes unless you believe in the “Madden Curse” or that no player is immune to a sophomore slump. The idea that teams and defensive schemers will find a way to stop him doesn’t hold much weight. Mahomes has been under the wing of head coach Andy Reid, considered by many to be an offensive mastermind, since entering the league and has been integrated into Reid’s system more seamlessly than any other quarterback Reid has coached.
The Chiefs have only gotten better around Mahomes this offseason. Adding Mecole Hardman to the wide receiver group in the draft originally served as a fail-safe if Hill was suspended by the league, but now the group of pass-catchers features four or five solid options for Mahomes to work with.
The space in the backfield left by Kareem Hunt’s release has been filled to the Chiefs’ satisfaction after the emergence of Damien and Darrel Williams toward the end of last season. Adding a veteran in Carlos Hyde and drafting Darwin Thompson should give the Chiefs plenty of options when mixing it up in the run game.
One area still in need of improvement is the lack of depth at the tight end position. It might not feel like a pressing issue when Mahomes’ best target is Kelce, but Reid is known for frequently incorporating a second tight end into the lineup as we saw with Demetrius Harris in previous seasons. The Chiefs are banking on former Oklahoma quarterback turned tight end Blake Bell answering the call.
As for the defensive side of the team, there was nothing that could make the unit worse than it was last season. The hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator and his choices to fill out his staff should at least give us confidence that this year will be different. Furthermore, adding Tyrann Mathieu through free agency, Frank Clark through trade and Juan Thornhill through the draft is the invigoration of fresh talent the defense needs to redefine its identity.
I think we can safely say the defense won’t be losing many games if any at all, where Mahomes could have won it if they got a stop.
With training camp in full swing and preseason less than two weeks again, Chiefs Kingdom is wide awake and ready for a show this season.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org