QB PATRICK MAHOMES
Q: How’s the team doing? What is your focus on the Colts?
MAHOMES: “The Colts are a great football team; I think all of us understand that. When you look at their roster, they’ve got playmakers everywhere, guys that have made plays in this league for a long time. We understand how tough of an opponent they’re going to be. So, we’re not looking ahead at anything. We’re looking straight at the Colts and know it’s going to be a tough matchup for us to go to Indy in their home opener and try to find a way to get a win.”
Q: You’ve had two games to look at some things. What do you think the offense has to improve on most?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think we just keep getting better. We’ve done some great things. We’ve also done stuff that we can get better at. We got to just continue to find ways to have explosive plays. I know it’s tough sometimes with the defenses that we get, but we want to make sure we still take advantage of that and keep that in our offense. And then whenever we need to be patient and drive the length of the field, we got to continue to do that. So, you’ll keep getting better with new receivers and younger guys that can kind of evolve in the offense and we keep opening the offense up even more.”
Q: You apologized to fantasy owners before the season that there’s no “go-to” guy on the offense this year. How do you keep JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling involved in the game so they don’t lose focus?
MAHOMES: “I think – it goes with me, obviously giving them the ball in certain situations where we can get easy completions to them and stuff like that. But at the same time, I think (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid does a great job of that. If they see the plays that are called, they know that their play is designed for them and the defenses take those away, they understand that you get to the next progression of the read. They’re great guys like that. And so, they’re going to have their big games. Obviously, this last week, that was against a really good defense. The other guys stepped up and made plays, but you saw in Week 1 – and I think you’ll see in the rest of the season – there’ll be days when those guys are going to have big days and I think they’ll be ready for it.”
Q: On Willie Gay’s suspension. How do you encourage someone in Gay’s situation to stay focused and to stay in the mix even if they may be out of the facility for a few weeks?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think he’ll handle it the right way. Obviously, the whole situation was a bad situation that we don’t want to happen, but at the same time, we love Willie (Gay) as a guy and we want him to come back in and still be a great part of this team. And so, we’ll continue to move forward with some tough opponents while he’s gone, and I expect those younger guys to step up and make plays happen when they’re given their opportunity.”
Q: On Head Coach Andy Reid being asked about short yardage situations and him allowing Mahomes to do a quarterback sneak. Does he want to do more quarterback sneaks? How hard do you lobby for it and what are those conversations like?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think the hardest I’ve ever lobbied for it is kind of was in the playoffs. I’m like, ‘I mean we’re here now. I want to run and get that first down or that touchdown.’ But we trust in those running backs, we trust in our offensive line, especially in a guy like Burt (Michael Burton) too – usually he’s pretty good in getting those first downs. I’ve only technically not got it one time near the redzone, and I still think I was in the endzone against the Chargers a couple of years back (laughter), so I’m usually pretty good at the quarterback sneak. Even though he says he doesn’t expect it to happen, I think there’s a time and place for it, so I’ll keep that on his radar.”
Q: Do you feel like you’ve ran your last quarterback sneak in your career?
MAHOMES: “No, my plan is to save it until the Super Bowl (laughter). So one of these Super Bowls I’m going to sneak in there and do it. It’s the least expected thing, obviously (laughter). So I’m going to do it and I might go over the top this time to try to save that (laughter).”
Q: On giving up a touchdown in the last two minutes of Thursday’s game and a bunch of teams not playing the full 60 minutes on Sunday. What’s your message to your teammates after seeing the type of games that took place on Sunday?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think we emphasize it a lot. We go through ‘in-the-game’ situations a lot, every single week. (Wide Receivers Coach) Joe Bleymaier does a great job of showing all those situations of where teams come back like that and how the game’s never over. (Statistical Analysis Coordinator) Coach (Mike) Frazier talks about it, how close these NFL games have become and how the end of game is where the games are won and lost. We try to do a great job of our four-minute mode, running the time out if we can. Our defense (is) making stops. And then when we get in those special teams onside kicks, you saw guys like Noah (Gray) rallying to the ball and then recovering stuff. So, we really go over those, we emphasize those, and we understand the NFL these days. It’s closer than ever every single week and we have to play (the) full 60 minutes if we want to win.”
Q: On how Head Coach Andy Reid handles reps at practice. With the struggles the offense has had with short yardage this year, does Head Coach Andy Reid load more of them in practice or is he pretty set in how practice is scripted?
MAHOMES: “I think it’s more in the film room and in the install meetings. We just really emphasize and kind of detail those things even more than we usually do. Like you said, (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid has had a good track record of getting those first downs in those short yardage situations. We didn’t have a great week in a short week and I think we just (had) little misses here and there. And it’s always just got barely off one place or another. I think as we get back into the normal flow of the season, that hopefully we can go back to being great in those short yardage situations.”
Q: The Chargers were the first team that you played this season that you played last season. Did you see a big difference in how they tried to take things away from you?
MAHOMES: “Not necessarily. They played their defense. They’ve got a lot of great players (and) they have a great scheme. And so, they played their defense. I think maybe a couple more pressures than we have seen in the past year, but I think we showed them when they pressured, we were able to hit some of the deep routes – I think one to Mecole (Hardman) and one to J. Wat (Justin Watson). So, it’s a thing where I’m sure defenses will test us to see if we can still hit those big shots when the pressures come. And I think if we show that then we’ll have to go back to those check downs, those shorter ones, so being able to do both is what makes our offense so great.”
Q: What are some of the bigger challenges you think you’re going to face this week? What type of challenge does Colts CB Stephon Gilmore bring?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, it’s another defense that’s great at all levels. You said it, (Colts CB) Stephon Gilmore, (Colts LB) Shaquille Leonard will, I think, probably be back, so he’s a great linebacker, one of the best (if) not the best linebacker in the league. Their defensive line, all four guys – (Colts DE) Yannick Ngakoue, (Colts DE) Kwity Paye, (Colts DT) Grover (Stewart), (Colts DT DeForest) Buckner of course, I’ve played against before. They’re great players, so when you have that many great playmakers on a defense, you understand how hard it’s going to be to get points, so we have to execute at a high level if we want to go out there and win a football game.”
Q: Justin Watson said after the game that the touchdown pass was a play that was worked on in the offseason in Texas. How gratifying is that, that all those months later it finally pays off?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, it shows that all that hard work is going to pay off. We did a lot in Texas and those guys didn’t have to be there. They were down there getting the work in and you see it when you get to the games. They’re making adjustments on the fly that you wouldn’t expect (from) receivers in a new offense like this. And so, I think all that hard work is going to keep paying off and we’ll keep on and keep getting better and better as the season goes on.”
Q: What has JuJu Smith-Schuster meant to the team since you’ve gotten to know him through the offseason and these two games?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, the attitude that he brings every day is huge. He’s going to be a great player – he’s going to have a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns and everything like that. But the way that he’s able to be a leader in that receiving room – as someone who’s new to a team – I think it’s going to keep making this offense and this team even better because you have a guy that comes in to work every single day and he puts in that work. He’ll get more and more opportunities as the season goes on.”
Q: On his numbers in indoor stadiums.
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think most quarterbacks are usually better in indoors. But I think it’s just – you just go out there and play the game – I never really notice it. I try to be better outdoors because that’s where we play at, and I want the playoffs to be in GEHA Field at Arrowhead and I feel like that’s and advantage for us. I haven’t played a ton of games indoors, but we’ve obviously had success when we have. It’ll be another great challenge for us to go to Indy (Indianapolis), the atmosphere will be rocking, and it’ll be a great defense that we’re going up against.”
Q: How do you enjoy high school football now?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I still watch the game. I think I see it a little bit more – you see the concept of what the offense is trying to do and the defense and everything like that – but it’s cool just to be a fan. To go out there – and the place was rocking, man – the student section. I was a little surprised because it compared to where I’m at in Texas. There were no empty seats – it was a great football game, great players and everything like that. But it was cool to go out there and watch. Brittany (Mahomes) has been to two of them with me now so I don’t know how many more that I got (laughter). But it was cool to see. The only thing that I’ll say is those hashes are wide, man. I’m like man, I don’t remember those hashes being that wide. It’s definitely cool to go out there and watch some kids that you’ve seen grow up throughout the years.”
WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER
Q: Patrick Mahomes was in here talking about how important you are in the wide receiver room. How do you see yourself evolving in this offense? What do you see yourself contributing when your number is called more than anybody else’s?
SMITH-SCHUSTER: “Yeah, I mean we talk about this all the time. Anybody can get the ball. Anyone can make the play – no matter who is in that position. Just know that when your number is called, make the play, that’s what it is. Myself? I see myself being the guy that – wherever they need me at – I’m there to be that guy. Inside, outside, whatever that may be. If they need me to block, (I’ll) come block. If they need me to do this or do that (I’ll do it). I’m an all-around guy.”
Q: What makes Head Coach Andy Reid so successful?
SMITH-SCHUSTER: “Honestly, I think it’s the attention to details. One of the biggest things leading up into the week going into the game week is the distractions are less. You’re more focused on the job, your assignments, the details of your routes, (and) your plays. And then one of the biggest things that he always says before every game is ‘show your personality out there’ and I think that’s really cool because everyone has different personalities. Mine is different between other guys on the team and then other guys’ are different between a lot of other guys on the other side of the ball. So it’s just really cool just to go out there and for everyone just to have fun, fly around (and) play ball.”
Q: On the Indianapolis Colts defense.
SMITH-SCHUSTER: “Yeah, I mean, even though they’re struggling right now, I think they’re a great team. They’re going to have a lot of puzzles (great pieces) that they have on their defense that’s going to fit really, really well. I’m excited to go against (Colts CB Stephon) Gilmore, he’s a guy that I went against multiple times when I was in Pittsburgh (Steelers) and him being in New England. It’s really cool. Their middle linebacker (Shaquille Leonard) – he’s the captain on the team – he’s been doing it for so long. I just got to give it up to them. We can’t go into this game taking it lightly, especially with it being an away game.”
LB NICK BOLTON
Q: How do you adjust in preparation when you don’t have Willie Gay in the line up?
BOLTON: “Yeah it’s kind of just, ‘Next man up.’ That’s kind of the mindset we have right now. I’ve been checking in on him (Willie Gay) as a person (and) as a father, making sure he keeps his head up and we’re going to keep moving forward. Again, we got a lot of guys that come in every single day (and) put work in since training camp to give us an opportunity for us to go out there and play (and) play our best. So, we’re going to keep stacking days and when we get Willie back, we’ll be ready to go. Again, he’ll be missed but we’ve got to keep going.”
Q: On Darius Harris being capable of filling in for the next couple of weeks.
BOLTON: “Going back to training camp and OTA’s – he’s been here for a while now. He knows the scheme like the back part of his hand, kind of similar to me. And so, he comes in every single day and puts his heart out for our team. He executes the game plan, flies around, (and) has fun. (He) plays with great energy. Those are the things that we pride our defense on, so I have no question that he’s going to come in ready to play and make plays for us.”
Q: On the challenges Colts RB Jonathan Taylor presents.
BOLTON: “He’s special. (He’s) an elite running back in this league. When the ball is in his hands, he can get north and south quick, and in a hurry, and break tackles in the second and third levels. So, we’ve got to make sure that we set a front with our seven guys and attack the hip and make sure we make tackles in space. That’s going to be the name of this game.”
CB JAYLEN WATSON
Q: Heck of a birthday present; winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week. How’s that feeling?
WATSON: “I’m very humbled. It’s a great feeling but (I) got the ‘24 hour’ rule. Celebrate it, (I’m) glad that it was on a Thursday, so I could celebrate a little longer than 24 hours, but I’m on to the next one.
Q: On him making an impact so quickly as a seventh rounder.
WATSON: “It means a lot. It shows all the hard work (and) dedication that I put in. Once you get here, I don’t think it matters where you got drafted. Everyone’s in the same position. You just got to come each day, put your head down and work. And that’s what I did.”
Q: On what he can improve on.
WATSON: “I think I did pretty well in coverage (but) I want to finish better – getting the ball out. (The) speed is different being in open field (and) trying to tackle ballcarriers. So, just tackling in open space, which is so hard to do at this level (and) just see things faster, keep watching film, (and) get a better chemistry with the guys I’m running with now.”