KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs started in a place so basic with rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II when he arrived as their first-round draft pick that they had to teach him how to call plays in the huddle.
That was a new experience for Mahomes, who wasn’t asked to relay the playcall to teammates in college at Texas Tech. At first, even that didn’t go well.
“Day 1, when he got here, he was yelling the play out so loud in the huddle that the whole defense could hear him," said Matt Nagy, the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. “They could hear the play call, too.
“Now he knows to get in the huddle, be calm and speak only to the people he’s supposed to be talking to."
The Chiefs will take progress where they can get it. That’s a victory when it comes to their rookie quarterback, and there have been others.
But the process of turning him into an NFL-ready player is a long one, and the Chiefs and Mahomes are still in the early stages. Mahomes remains the third quarterback into the lineup in practice behind starter Alex Smith and Tyler Bray, and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.
Mahomes is frequently the last player off the field after practice. He generally stays late to work on his footwork. The Chiefs are trying to cram in as much with Mahomes as they can before the end of offseason practice next week.
Nagy indicated the work with Mahomes is showing, and not just when it comes to calling plays in the huddle. He said the Chiefs are encouraged because they’re not seeing the same mistakes twice from Mahomes.
The first pass of Mahomes’ first two-minute drill last week resulted in an interception when he was trying to unload the ball out of bounds on a play that was broken. He underestimated the ability of linebacker Reshard Cliett, who tipped the ball into the air and caught it.
Mahomes hasn’t made that mistake again.
“He’s able to see the play," Nagy said. “He can go into the huddle, call the play with confidence, visualize it. He identifies the [middle] linebacker, tries to work with the protections. We’re still not yet at the part where he sees the defense and understands where they’re coming from. It’s still a little fast, but it’s coming."
The lessons will come even faster for Mahomes at training camp when it begins next month. The Chiefs will be able to practice in pads for the first time and move at a much faster pace than in the offseason.
“Right now, we’re doing a lot of stuff," Nagy said. “He knew nothing about the offense at first. He went from basic plays, but it was very fast for him. Now he knows the offense, but we’re doing a lot. At training camp, we’ll get back to that part where things are basic again and he’s going to know the offense and the things he’s supposed to do, so we can let his talent go a little bit."
Mahomes said last week that he didn’t feel he was far from being ready to play in a game. Asked what the expectations would be today for Mahomes if he had to quarterback the Chiefs for real, Nagy said, “You’d still see some mistakes. That’s only fair to expect. We’d have to pull back. We know we’d have to be patient with the plays we’d call.
“But he’s really grown a lot from the first day of rookie camp until now. We’re really encouraged by his progress."