By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The initial stage of the official offseason program kicked off for the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, but while this part of the process – dubbed “Phase One” – only involves meetings and individual workouts, the players are already getting a head start on the on-field stuff in their own time.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes invited several of his teammates to an unofficial workout earlier this month, providing the roster’s skill position players with an opportunity to work alongside one another away from the practice facility. It was the first of numerous planned gatherings in Mahomes’ native state of Texas, displaying a certain commitment that prompted Head Coach Andy Reid to make the “Phase One” meeting schedule entirely virtual.
“They’re lifting, they’re conditioning and they’re running routes. The defensive guys, they’re doing their thing, too. I just think that’s where I have the trust in the guys to be able to do this. I don’t need them right here,” Reid said. “When they get here, they’ll be revved up and we’ll be in this building for quite some time. [For now,] these two weeks where they can be with [each other] working and getting to know one another is important…[To organize this] says a lot about Patrick.”
It seems of particular importance this offseason, too, because of the new faces in the Chiefs’ wide receiver corps. Kansas City signed a pair of veteran playmakers in recent weeks in wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, signaling a transition into what will be a new-look offense in 2022. With that in mind, the gatherings in Texas mean that Mahomes is already developing the critical rapport needed to find success with his new teammates next season.
“First, we want to build those relationships. That’s what has made us so great over these last few years. [Our] team has [always] had the bond and the chemistry to go out there and be who we are,” Mahomes said. “I wanted to get everybody together to meet each other, learn how everyone interacts with each other and to build those friendships…We’re [together] off the field, we’re going to lunch and [we’re] working out, it’s not just throwing. You can build those relationships that way.”
Those intangibles are crucial, but there’s also plenty of football taking place as Mahomes learns the strengths of his new playmakers.
“I think the biggest thing [I’ve learned] from throwing to all these guys is that we have a lot of size in that receiving room that we haven’t necessarily had in the past,” Mahomes said. “We’ve [found success] in different ways with speed and beating guys deep, but to have big, physical receivers who can still run and catch the ball over the top [is exciting]. There have been balls that I’ve thrown [that I thought were] overthrows, but those guys were catching them easy. Having that size, I think, will be different. I’m excited for it and I think it will be something that will be useful for us during the season.”
The on-field introductions aren’t just for Mahomes, either. The workouts have also been an opportunity for the Chiefs’ returning skill-position players to see what their new teammates can do.
“Marquez…That boy is fast. I didn’t know he was that fast. He’s definitely moving,” said wide receiver Mecole Hardman when asked about Valdes-Scantling. “He’s a taller receiver with some speed who will [help] out our offense, for sure.”
This is still just the first step in a long offseason process that will culminate in training camp later this summer, but the eagerness to get started displayed by Mahomes and his teammates is noteworthy. The official on-field portion of the Chiefs’ training program may still be weeks away, but the guys simply weren’t interested in waiting.
“[The virtual meetings] evolved from the trust that [the coaches] have in us that we’re going to be vets and we’re going to do it the right way like we’ve been doing,” Mahomes said. “Whenever we roll into KC in May, we’ll be ready to go then, too.”