Mahomes, Chiefs face tall task
CHIEFS AT PATRIOTS, SUNDAY, 8:20 P.M. (NBC)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Watching Patrick Mahomes this season has made Tom Brady feel like an old man.
At least old enough to remember a much different era for young NFL quarterbacks.
As a rookie in 2000, Brady remembers being nowhere near seeing the field as a starter.
“I was sitting in the stands, eating nachos before games. I wasn’t playing,” he joked this week.
Now he looks around at a league in which Mahomes is one of several young quarterbacks in their first or second year starting for teams. Brady also started his second season, but it was hardly the plan as he replaced an injured first stringer, Drew Bledsoe.
“Football was different then,” Brady said. “I think now in some ways pro football is more glorified college football… the transition is a more similar game than it used to be when I first started.”
It’s an atmosphere that has allowed Mahomes, who will be starting for Kansas City when the Chiefs (5-0) visit New England (3-2) on Sunday night, to emerge as the most electrifying quarterback in the NFL this season.
Mahomes leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes through Week 5 and has won each of his first six NFL starts, dating back to his lone start last season. With a win against the Patriots, Mahomes would become the sixth quarterback since 1970 to win his first seven career starts.
It’s put the second-year Texas Tech product under the microscope in his first year Kansas City’s full-time starter, following the offseason trade of Alex Smith to Washington.
While Mahomes said running the jet sweeps and run-pass option plays he did in college has helped with his transition, he also spent a fair amount of time studying Brady’s approach in New England.
“My coach in college was Kliff Kingsbury, and he actually was a backup for Brady at one point, and so he showed me things that he liked with Tom and his pocket movements and stuff he did within the pocket that I’ve tried to put in my game a little bit,” he said.
While Chiefs coach Andy Reid won’t disparage Smith, he acknowledges Mahomes brings a lot of intangible qualities to their offense. Reid also is cognizant that the season is still young.
The 23-year-old is not a rookie, but he basically is, Reid said.
“He’s going through an NFL season — his first one — and there are all kind of challenges that come with that, and no bigger one than this week,” Reid said.
NOT AN UNDERDOG
Despite Kansas City’s unblemished record, the Patriots enter Sunday’s game as a three-point favorite. It’s for good reason. Since 2001, 41 times a team has visited Foxborough with a better record than the Patriots. In those games New England is 30-11.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass against the Jaguars earlier this season.