KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To take a shot downfield or not to take a shot downfield, that is the question Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will wrestle with as he continues his maturation as an NFL quarterback.
During Kansas City's season-opening win last Thursday against the Texans, Mahomes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, showed some of the offseason growth in weighing risk versus reward.
“It was funny, (backup quarterbacks) Chad (Henne) and Matt (Moore) both said it was one of my best games I've played, because I actually took the check downs and didn’t just try to force it down the field when it wasn’t there," Mahomes, who finished 24 of 32 for 211 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 34-20 win, said.
That can be easier said than done for the precocious Mahomes, who said he has to fight the urge to throw it deep and show off the MVP arm that earned him a half-billion contract during the offseason.
“I’ve learned from Coach (Andy) Reid, that we all want to go for the big shot, the touchdown pass, every single time," Mahomes, who was the 2018 NFL MVP, said. "But if the defense is gonna play us back and they are gonna play us in coverage, I’m going to take the stuff underneath and let the guys make plays and find a way to score and find a way to win football games.”
It's just hard not to flash that Mahomes Magic.
Instead, Mahomes is focused on learning how to improve his feel for the game, something teammates are already beginning to see from him.
“Pat loves the big plays," Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who led the team with seven catches for 82 yards, said. "Now, I just think he’s growing up and being the elite quarterback that’s saying like, 'Huh, let me just check it down and move to the next play,' and that’s a special. That's a special guy we have on our team.”
Mahomes said it's still ingrained in his nature to want to take the downfield shot if he has the chance, but this year is about finding a balance.
Kansas City returns to action at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers, the team's first trip to new SoFi Stadium.