By Max Lowson, Sports Radio 810
The Kansas City Chiefs are primed to make another Super Bowl run with a revamped roster and a motivated Patrick Mahomes.
On Thursday, head coach Andy Reid, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and safety Tyrann Mathieu spoke to the media about the current state of the team leading up to training camp.
The Chiefs have improved both their defensive and offensive lines entering the 2021 NFL season. The acquisition of Jarran Reed gives Kansas City a third pass-rushing threat to pair alongside Frank Clark and Chris Jones. Andy Reid describes how Reed’s presence gives the Chiefs a multitude of looks that they can present to an opposing offense:
“The one thing it does is it gives us flexibility. I mentioned that Jarran Reed hasn’t been talked about much, but I look at him as kind of a key cog to that ability to move Chris around. He’s been a heck of a football player in this league and he’s an interior player, so it gives us some flexibility with Chris to move him in or out. I know he likes getting out there to rush the passer. He’s looked pretty good doing it here in shorts, so we’ll see how it works out with pads on.”
While Jones has played most of his career at defensive tackle, Reid sees defensive end as a viable option for Jones based on what he has seen over the last few days. When training camp arrives, Reid should continue to evaluate Jones’s comfortability and effectiveness at the DE position in more of a game-like environment.
The Chiefs also made some big changes to their offensive line. They released LT Eric Fisher and RT Mitchell Schwartz in March. Fisher, a former number 1 overall pick and 2-time pro-bowler; and Schwartz, an all-pro level tackle, were both injured for Super Bowl LV. Kansas City opted to restructure their line for the upcoming season.
The Chiefs signed Austin Blythe, Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney to fill out the left side of their offensive line. In addition, the Chiefs brought in Kyle Long, a former 3-time pro-bowler who is capable of playing the guard or tackle position.
Long retired following the 2019 season after a series of injuries that halted his career. He is motivated to return to the NFL this coming season and hopes to make an immediate impact with the Chiefs. Long is currently nursing a fractured kneecap and is expected to miss training camp. He does not want to rush a return, but is optimistic that he will be ready to go by the start of the season in September.
As a former 20th overall pick and pro-bowler his first three seasons in the NFL, Long has an opportunity to be a supremely valuable component of the Chiefs offense. At 6’6”, 330lbs, Long can help protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes from top pass rushes in the NFL and allow him to operate at his full potential if able to get fully healthy again.
Mahomes dealt with a toe injury throughout last year’s playoffs. When asked if Mahomes would be 100% when he begins to run with the ball in training camp, Reid says that he was “cautious with him…we tried to be as smart as we possibly could with it. And his communication was great. He kept it open with us and we checked with him to make sure and see how he was doing during practices.
Reid also explained that “he made it through (workouts)” and that the practice was “good for him.” Going forward, Reid stated “we’ll just see how he feels once we get up to camp, but he sure got a lot of work done here and he came out feeling pretty good.”
Mahomes does not see the injury as any sort of long-term issue. “I don’t see any problems moving forward. Obviously, I’m going to have to continue with the rehab, continue to work on those things, strengthen and do all that different type of stuff. I feel like I had a good OTA’s, a good minicamp. I was able to move around, scramble around and do the things that I needed to do.”
When asked about his confidence in the Chiefs receiver depth considering the loss of Sammy Watkins, Mahomes did not seem concerned one bit. He was pleased with the effort from Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Gehrig Dieter, and Marcus Kemp; “…these guys went out there and competed and did a great job.”
Mahomes also touched on the Chiefs commitment to player development and the desire of the younger receivers, who may have had a limited role in previous years, to get better every day. “The young guys are coming in with (Antonio) Callaway and (Cornell) Powell and they’re learning how we practice and how we really get after it…they’re making plays at practice every single day, and I have the ultimate trust in them that no matter who’s in the game we’re going to make some plays happen.”
Another positive take away from Thursday’s pressers was Tyrann Mathieu’s commitment to being a lifelong Chief. When asked how much of a priority finishing his career in Kansas City was, Mathieu says “It’s probably top of the list. It’s been everything I’ve asked for. As for me, I feel like I can play football anywhere, but when you develop certain relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life.”
Mathieu added that while monetary incentives to sign elsewhere may be tempting, he values most the relationships he has with Steve Spagnuolo, Dave Merritt, Andy Reid, Barry Rubin, and the rest of the Chiefs coaching staff. Because of this, in the words of Mathieu, “I can’t see me ever walking away from that relationship.”
All in all, Andy Reid is delighted by the high attendance for this portion of the offseason. “We have a lot of new faces, so it gave us a great introduction to the offense, defense and special teams, which I thought was huge for us.” He believes the team is in a great position leading up to training camp, where schemes and concepts that they have already introduced can be fine-tuned.
Reid also expressed the importance of having in-person run throughs and practices prior to training camp, as communication was restricted to Zoom last off-season. “On these Zoom calls, as you know, you can install. You can do all that. You can talk about fundamentals and techniques, but you can’t work on them, and that’s just what’s real. So, this gives you an opportunity to actually run the play and work on the fundamentals and techniques.”
More than ever before, Patrick Mahomes is motivated to win a super bowl after a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s Super Bowl. Earlier this off-season, Mahomes expressed his goal to go 20-0 and complete a perfect season in 2021; something that has not been done since 1972.
With a generational talent in Mahomes, elite playmakers at the skill positions, an experienced coaching staff and an overall well-rounded team, it is fair to say that nothing is out of the realm of possibility for these Kansas City Chiefs.