Patrick Mahomes is playing defense this offseason — and loving every moment of it.
A year ago, Mahomes’ life was relatively chaotic.
Within weeks of a Super Bowl loss at Tampa Bay, the Kansas City Chiefs’ All-Pro quarterback and then-fiancée Brittany Matthews welcomed a daughter, Sterling Skye.
Any parent can tell you that with a newborn — precious as they might be — comes sleepless nights, endless diaper changes and lots of anxiety.
Mahomes also underwent foot surgery, which pushed back his training schedule and limited his reps during offseason workouts.
He and Brittany also were planning a wedding, which took place in March 2022 in Hawaii.
All the while, Mahomes remained the face of a Chiefs team trying to compete for another title and one of the most sought-after athletes for endorsements.
That’s a lot.
All Mahomes did was respond by leading the Chiefs to a fourth straight home AFC Championship Game appearance.
But it’s also why Mahomes is thrilled this offseason to be playing defense — yep, arguably the most gifted QB in the NFL is playing defense (just not at work!) — as he settles into life as a father and husband.
“Sterling, obviously being older, she has that personality now,” Mahomes said. “She can walk. As soon as she started walking, then all the sudden I’m having to play defense, because all of the sudden she’s everywhere. She’s just sprinting everywhere.”
As the Chiefs transition into a new phase of Mahomes’ career, having traded Tyreek Hill and remade the offense with a keen eye on the salary cap now that Mahomes’ half-billion contract extension has kicked in, the all-world QB’s personal life also has transformed.
“I’ve talked to him about that,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He knows this is another step in life and he understands that. He understands that that baby’s going to cry every once in a while and he’s gotta get up and let mom relax. He gets all that, but he’s handling all that with good graces.”
It’s been a lot to adjust to, but Mahomes feels at ease again as he prepares for the 2022 season.
With fewer concerns about COVID-19 and no post-surgery rehab to attack, he gathered the rest of Kansas City’s skill players for a month of workouts, passing drills and bonding time in his native Texas.
That group included a mix of returning veterans like Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman Jr. and Clyde Edwards-Helaire along with newcomers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones II and Justin Watson, among others.
“It’s been cool, getting to hang out with all these guys in Texas,” Mahomes said. “It’s been cool to be back to normal — back to where you can hang out with these guys, hang out with the family, hang out with friends and play football. You can’t beat it.”
Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy were so pleased with Mahomes’ offseason plan that the first phase of Kansas City’s offseason program remained virtual — with meetings online rather than in-person — to avoid interrupting the workouts in Texas.
“The energy that he’s brought to bring the guys down to Texas was a real positive,” Reid said. “That’s all part of the maturation process as you go forward.”
Mahomes appreciated the show of faith from the Chiefs’ football brass. He and Reid both remarked Thursday that it seemed to have sped up the acclimation process to the new offense for newcomers.
“We talked about it and he had the trust in me to get the guys there,” Mahomes said.
He said it was a different experience than it would have been in the team facility.
The offense sometimes has meetings together, but other times they are split into position groups.
But while in Texas, the teammates worked out together, ran routes together, broke bread together and got to know one another on a deeper, potentially more meaningful, level — both as people and as football players.
“Working out with them, throwing with them — we go to lunch, go to dinner, stuff like that — you kind of build that chemistry, and I think a big part of especially our offense is having that chemistry on the field,” Mahomes said. “Being able to know what the guy is doing without needing to talk about it. I think it’s translated. So far in the practices that we’ve had, we think we’re on the same page in kind of having chemistry and we’re going to keep building on that.”
Physically, Mahomes feels better than last offseason, which has not only benefited his preparation for next season’s Lombardi Trophy chase. It also should pay dividends next week when he teams with Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen for “The Match,” an exhibition match-play golf challenge against Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers at Wynn Golf Club in Paradise, Nevada.
“First off, the no surgery and being able to train right out of the gate was huge for me,” Mahomes said. “I feel like I’m in a way better spot physically. I feel like my golf game’s in a better spot. I get to play more.”