This week the Kansas City Chiefs traded away their Pro Bowl starting quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a 3rd round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. I feel like everyone other than Chiefs fans are looking at this trade from the perspective of the Redskins. Such as they got Smith, how will he gel with the offence, this now means Cousins will move but to where and for how much? All valid points and questions, but I’d like to examine this trade from the point of view of the Chiefs and their fanbase.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Kansas City traded to Buffalo their first and third-round picks in that draft and their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. All in order to move up to the 10th overall spot in the Draft, where they proceed to select Patrick Mahomes II. That’s a lot of picks for their first quarterback selected in the first round since Todd Blackledge in the 1983 Draft. With a move like this, it’s easy to see that Kansas City saw a lot of him during his college career.
Mahomes was the quarterback at Texas Tech for 3 years before deciding to enter the draft. While he was there as a freshman he backed up Davis Webb till Webb got hurt. Mahomes only played 6 games, starting 3 that year but his talent burst forth for everyone to see, as he threw for 1,547 yards, 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. When Webb left to enter the draft Mahomes became the starter and lit up college football. His erratic yet mesmerising play led him to be given the Sammy Baugh Trophy in 2016 as the nation’s top passer. One particular game against Oklahoma stands out in the minds of college football fans, as it pitted Mahomes against future Heisman Trophy-winning quarter Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma. This game set new NCAA records for most combined yards for total offence with a mind-boggling 1,708 yards, combined passing yards and total offence by two players. Mahomes in that game set the NCAA record for most passing yards in one game with 734. It’s games like this during his own college career that set him apart from the rest giving him the confidence to play in the NFL and ultimately made him a first-round pick.
“My favourite type of throw? A touchdown.” – Patrick Mahomes II
With all the records and positivity about his play, there are always doubters. For Mahomes, the doubters said that due to the “Air Raid” offence run at Texas Tech (primarily the shotgun formation) that Mahomes would struggle at the NFL level with taking a snap under centre, reading a defensive front, calling audibles, etc. The element that frightened coaches the most was his mechanics. Mahomes having played baseball in college as well as football had a long delivery and could sidearm throws; with accuracy not being his strong point. This is something you have to think former Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey and Head Coach Andy Reid saw and believed in enough to sit him for his rookie season. Mahomes sat behind Smith as the Chiefs backup quarterback, as Smith had a Pro Bowl year throwing for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Clearly, this time in an NFL offence behind a quality calibre player such as Smith was invaluable for Mahomes.
He proved this much when he started his first game of his career in week 17 in Mile High Stadium against the Broncos. By doing so he became the first rookie quarterback to start for the Chiefs in 38 years. The Chiefs had clinched their playoff spot the week before with a win so decided to rest most of their starters allowing Mahomes to get his first taste of NFL action. He threw for 284 yards and one interception in a win, he was great finding first downs hitting 14 of them through the air. His connection with Albert Wilson was great as Wilson had 10 catches for 147 yards. This first game was hopefully a springboard to a great second season in the NFL.
So having traded Smith now, it places huge pressure on Reid and first-time offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to develop Mahomes into a quality starting level quarterback because if not, then they will look idiotic trading away Smith who took them to the playoffs in 2013,15,16 and 17. Chiefs fans, as well as Andy Reid, will now look at Mahomes to be his successor, someone to take them over their playoff torture. At the moment the Chiefs Having the entire offseason for Reid to develop Mahomes is invaluable for him, as Mahomes despite his raw athletic ability still needs to improve to show the KC fans and coaches that they made the right decision to trade up to get him and trade away their franchise quarterback to play him.
At least to begin with people are saying the right things, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce said “Without a doubt, they can win with Patrick Mahomes” to NFL Network’s Andrew Sicilliano on Wednesday. While running back Kareem Hunt said in an interview for ESPN First Take “I’m very happy, I’ve got a lot of confidence in Pat… I’m excited for the whole team, we should be able to make a run for it”. For now, Chiefs fans will be looking through rose tinted glasses for the offseason, getting very excited for the chance to see Mahomes run their offence. But if things start to turn sour, except to remember why Arrowhead is the loudest stadium in the league and not in a good way.