DENVER -- After not playing in the season’s first 15 games, rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II will make his NFL debut on Sunday when he starts for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Denver Broncos.
Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy this week listed some expectations the Chiefs have for Mahomes, their first-round draft pick. He would become the first rookie to start at quarterback for the Chiefs in a non-strike game since Steve Fuller in 1979.
Win the game. A victory doesn’t matter for the 9-6 Chiefs, who have clinched the AFC West championship, in the standings or with regard to their playoff seeding. They will be the AFC’s fourth seed win or lose in Denver. But Mahomes will likely be their quarterback when the season begins in 2018. They might as well get him started off on the right path.
Get the ball out of his hand in a timely manner. Young quarterbacks tend to hold the ball too long and either take a sack or throw late, which can often wind up as an interception.
Avoid turnovers. The Chiefs have been spoiled with Alex Smith as their quarterback for the last five seasons. He rarely throws an interception or loses a fumble, a big reason the Chiefs have made the playoffs in four of their five seasons with Smith at QB and have won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history.
Don’t try to make too much happen. Mahomes showed the ability in training camp to extend plays with his scrambling and then get rewarded by getting a completion down the field. The Chiefs are fine with that, of course, but within reason. “He’s a dynamic playmaker," Nagy said. “He’s proven that his whole college career. Now you’re playing with the big boys and you have to understand that you have to play within the system, but still let your talent show. So there’s a balance there. How’s he going to transition into that balance?”