Check out what Patrick Mahomes, Nick Bolton and Jerick McKinnon said on Monday.
QB PATRICK MAHOMES
Q: It’s playoff time, you’ve been through it, does it get any better? Does it feel the same? Is there just something that you enjoy about the expectation?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think you build up for this all season long. The regular season, you take it week by week, but you want to be here in the playoffs and you know you’re going to play the best football teams in the league and that’s what you want to do as a competitor. And so, I’m excited to get to go up against a great football team at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium – that’s always a good time.”
Q: What do you think Jerick McKinnon does well as a wide receiver?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, he just knows how to be in the right spot – I think that’s the biggest thing. He has a good sense of the quarterback timing – when to be in there for protection reasons and when to get out. And then whenever he’s hot, he always has his eyes around and he’s ready to catch the ball. And then, he makes special plays when he gets to catch. He seems like he can get in the end zone almost every single time. He’s just a vet and a guy that knows what to do whenever he catches the football.”
Q: The last time you played the Jaguars, they had some big hits. Are the Jaguars a physical defense that does that typically or was that out of character? Is that the way that they’re going to play?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, they’re a fast, physical team. They fly around, they fly to the football. I got to do better in not leading guys into hits like that. So I’ll try to protect my receivers the best I can, but we’re going to still be aggressive. We’re going to throw the ball down the field when we get the opportunities to. But it’s all going to start with up front. Our guys blocking their defensive line, which has a lot of great players there. So, I’m just going to do whatever I can to have success every play that I get the opportunity to.”
Q: What stands out differently about this team from when you last faced them? You won 27-17, but things have changed. They’re starting to win. They got a little momentum. What do you see?
MAHOMES: “I think the only difference is they might just have a little bit more confidence because they’re winning football games right now. But they’re a talented team. I knew that the first time we played them, you can see the talent that they had. They were flying around to the football. They made a few mistakes here and there and that’s why we kind of got the win the first time. But we understand how good this football team is and how much of a challenge it is going to be for us to go out there and try to find a way to get a win. And so, we’re trying to prepare ourselves the best way possible that we can find a way to win it there on Saturday.”
Q: How impressed were you with Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence having the four interceptions but being able to bounce back and have the kind of second half that he did as a young quarterback?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, that’s tough. When you throw three interceptions, especially in the first half of it – or four interceptions, especially if it’s in the first half – even if it’s your fault or not, that kind of can seep into
your mind. ‘Man, like what decisions am I going to make going forward? Do I protect it, or do I stay aggressive?’ But he battled through. That’s a true test of a competitor, that whenever stuff’s not going your way, to still pull your team to find a way to win and he’s done it at every level – high school, college and now, in the NFL. He’s taking that team and they’ve turned it around fast. So, he’s a great competitor, and we understand it’ll be a great challenge. And they have a great football team that’s been playing playoff football for like over a month now. So, they understand what it takes to win, and we have to go out there and do whatever we can to win.”
Q: Thinking back to 2018, you had the Colts and the Patriots. What are the challenges for a quarterback when they’re entering their first playoff run?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, probably just controlling emotions. You win a big game, your first playoff game. You can’t be satisfied. I think that’s the biggest thing. And so, yeah, other than that, it’s just football. You have to just come back and play the next week and find a way to win that next one.”
Q: Given where you are in your career and obviously the experience you do have in the postseason, how much do you carve out time to plan or anticipate things that might be “unscouted” because it’s a rematch?
MAHOMES: “I think I’ve done a better job with that this year just in general just because I’ve played so many teams, multiple times now. You have to know where the defensive coordinators came from. (Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Mike) Caldwell came from Tampa Bay where in the first game they played us they played us one way and the second game they played us a different way. They’ve kind of always had different game plans, and he’s a great defensive coordinator who does a lot of different stuff, so you have to prepare for what they did against us the first time, but also with that in the back of your mind that they might change it all the way up and you have to have answers for that as well. And so, I think that’s (what) we have to do as a great offense is have answers for everything. And I’m sure they’ll have a good game plan coming in. We have to execute at a high level to have success.”
Q: You might be getting Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jody Fortson back from injured reserve. As you make this stretch run, what kind of wrinkle does that provide the offense?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, anytime you get talented players back it helps the whole team, not just the offense but everybody. To have that energy in the locker room again, to have it on the football field. Both those guys are special types of players where they can do different things than the guys that we already have in there. So just having as many people back healthy as possible is going to be great for us because we have different options to utilize as we continue to try to build and get better and better and win these playoff games.”
Q: What do you feel like you’ve missed without Mecole Hardman in the lineup?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, he’s got a special type of speed. A special type of speed that he does just a great job with if it’s jet sweeps or stretching the field vertically and he’s gotten better and better at making those tough catches. So, we’ve done a great job of replacing it with other guys, but I mean having Mecole, he’s a special type of player and he’s done a lot of great things for this offense.”
Q: It’s been about a year since you’ve played a playoff game at home. Will you have to control your emotions before this one?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I always do when I play at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. I always come out (of) that tunnel (and) I’m a little hyped up. But doing a good job of controlling my emotions, focusing on what
I need to focus on to have success. It’s going to be a big game and a great environment obviously at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. We’re going to have to play our best football. So I got to be that leader that controls my emotions and goes out there and can be calm, but I still have that energy to lead the team.”
Q: Head Coach Andy Reid had mentioned that you guys had a lot of new players on the team coming into the season. Now that you’re entering the postseason – where it matters most – what are the conversations like with this new cast of characters that you have knowing that the standard here is to win the Super Bowl?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think all the guys understood that whenever they signed with this team that we want to win the Super Bowl. And if we don’t, we feel like it’s not where we should be at. And so, I think we did. We’ve built all year, we tried to get better and better with the mindset (that we) want to win the Super Bowl, but we can’t do it every single day. We have to continue to just get better and better until we get to that point. And you can’t look ahead. We have a great team that we’re playing this week that’s playing great football and so how can we get better at practice today so that we’re better by the end of the week? And I think you have to have that mindset – and I think the guys do – and I think we’re in a good spot.”
Q: From a team aspect, what’s that mindset transition like from regular season to playoff mode?
MAHOMES: “I think you just have to have a different intensity. The speed picks up. Every play matters. In the regular season you feel like that, but you might try a little bit more because you know that you can make that mistake and maybe come back from it. But in the playoffs, every single play matters – mistake or positive (play). And how can you execute at a high level? And if it doesn’t happen your way, you have to bounce back quickly and that’s the really the only huge difference, and I think our guys have a good understanding of that.”
Q: Does your body feel any different having the bye week?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, you definitely feel, I guess, a little bit more rested. I think it’s about how did you manage that bye week? How did you work out? What did you do to keep your body ready? Because like I said, they’ve been playing playoff football for a month now and they just had a big comeback and have a lot of momentum on their side. So how can we match their intensity the moment we step on that field?”
Q: Have you been watching the playoff games with how close they’ve been?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, that’s the biggest thing with the bye week. I think especially in today’s NFL, is you get a win because you don’t have to play in that bye week. And if you look (at) everyone that was in the playoffs, it seems like it went down to the wire, even the San Fran game. At halftime, Seattle was up. So you get to rest your body obviously, but you get a win in a sense but now you have to see what you can do to get that intensity back up and be ready to go against teams that have played in the hard fought game already.”
Q: Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence celebrated his first playoff win with a trip to Waffle House? How did you celebrate your first playoff win?
MAHOMES: “I can’t remember exactly. I’m sure – I was saying to (Vice President of Football Communications) Brad (Gee), I’m sure there was a couple Coors Lights that were drank (laughter). But yeah, I didn’t get Waffle House. That’s a baller move (laughter), so maybe if we win this one, I’ll think of somewhere to go that can match that.”
LB NICK BOLTON
Q: On the emotion of the intensity ramping up in the playoffs.
BOLTON: “Yeah, I feel like our team, we feel that. Just the intensity and focus level in order to compete and win football games in the playoffs. We saw the games last week, up and down. Just try to keep your emotions in check and play all 60 minutes. Come out there and play aggressive, play smart football and play sound so we feel that. We’re excited for it as well. Mostly the feeling I feel, personally, is excitement. I’m ready to play. Took a week off (and) it felt like forever so I’m ready to get back out there.”
Q: This whole year has been focused on you taking the green dot over. From Week 1 to Week 18, where would you say communication is for the defense?
BOLTON: “It’s on a whole new level. Just communication with just my teammates, (Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) Coach Spags and just kind of relaying what I see and relay what everybody else sees on the defense and trying to relay that to him (to) try to put us in a better position as the game continues to go on and making adjustments at halftimes and quarters and actually in between series, too. So the confidence with us is on a different level. I feel like Coach Spags has put a lot of trust in me to go out there and do my job along with my teammates, and it shows every game.”
Q: What does having the second most tackles in the league this season mean to you?
BOLTON: “We got a first-round bye. We’re ready to play.”
Q: The defense has shown a lot of improvement, what has gotten into you?
BOLTON: “Yeah, we just try to grow every single day and try to fix little things here and there as much as we can. Again, in playoffs there’s a lot of things you can work on, and it might not be perfect but execution kind of is a premium but also just playing with effort and getting 11 hats to the football, especially on our side of the ball, is important. You saw turnovers (and) how big they were in games last week and that comes with just getting people to the football and so as long as we can do that, play sound football and minimize penalties we’ll be ok.”
RB JERICK MCKINNON
Q: How did you learn that you were December/January AFC Player of the Month?
MCKINNON: “(Laughs) I landed back here, and I had a whole bunch of text messages. Guys texting me, coaches – former coaches – texting me. So that’s kind of how I found out. But, it’s just a blessing just to have recognition like that after you put in so much work. It’s definitely a blessing.”
Q: You’ve dealt with some injuries in your career and have had to fight back to where you’re at now. To score nine touchdowns in a month as a result of all that work, how does that feel?
MCKINNON: “It’s great, but like I said before, I couldn’t do it without any of my teammates, coaches, supporting staff and stuff like that. So, it’s a collective effort, but like I said, it’s a blessing to definitely have that recognition.”
Q: Head Coach Andy Reid talked about how funny you are. Talk about how funny you are. Do you tell jokes? Does Coach Reid impersonate you like he does with Patrick Mahomes?
MCKINNON: “(Laughs) I don’t know. A lot of people be coming up to me telling me I’m funny. I don’t – I’m not a joke teller. I do have a higher pitched voice – (Head) Coach (Andy Reid) gets on me every day about that. Oh, (Head Coach Andy Reid impersonates me) all the time. All the time. He did it today too in the offensive meeting. But it’s good though. He’s big on letting everybody show their personality, so it’s a loose environment but we still come to work. So he makes it fun and enjoyable.”
Q: Coach Reid has complimented you on how you take care of your body. Can you share some of the things that you do?
MCKINNON: “It’s a whole list (laughs). First of all, we have an incredible training staff. I’m in there almost every day with (Assistant Athletic Trainer) Julie (Frymyer), (Vice president of Sports Medicine and Performance) Rick (Burkholder), (Assistant Athletic Trainer David Glover) Glove, those guys. Acupuncture’s big, dry needling, cupping. Pretty much anything that they can offer, I’m doing (laughter). I’m doing it to stay alive and stay healthy, so it’s good. Shoutout, credit to the training staff and the hard work that they put in.”