There’s a purpose behind a fiery Patrick Mahomes at Chiefs offseason practices

Patrick Mahomes tilted his right arm sideways, triggering a throwing motion he has made look routine. The ensuing sidearm flick curled around a linebacker before reaching the belly of wide receiver Justyn Ross in the back of the end zone.

It was a pretty phenomenal throw, and a highlight during the Chiefs’ organized team activities (OTAs) this week, even if you have grown accustomed to seeing this sort of thing over the past seven-plus years.

But linebacker Drue Tranquill? He had a different reaction.


Tranquill, and he wasn’t the only one, contended that Mahomes had taken too long to release the football during the 7-on-7 drill — a session notably absent linemen and therefore leaning on the quarterback’s internal clock.

“Ya’ll dropped (everyone)!” Mahomes yelled back, before repeating it a couple of times to ensure every last defender heard it.

A brief argument. From a player with three Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards. Four months shy of an actual football game.

About a practice play in May.


And, well, that’s kind of the point.

There will be a theme around this Chiefs season, in case you’re yet to hear it: the Super Bowl three-peat. The Chiefs could be the first team in NFL history to accomplish it. That’s a nice little carrot.

But it can’t distract them from remembering the roots of the first two.

“I would tell you,” coach Andy Reid said, “they came back with a purpose last year.

“Which is important at this time of the year — as simple as that sounds with all the time you’ve got before the season starts.”

Look, the Chiefs should have an easy time finding the big-picture motivational moments during the season. When you’re only guaranteed 17 games, and when the initial two are against your top competition in the AFC, and when nearly half of them are stand-alone games broadcast to a nationwide audience, those are the comparatively easy days.

But motivation on game day has always been relatively overstated in comparison to the value of using it long before game days.

To whit: It’s late May, and between reps this week at OTAs, any player could stare at the wall of the practice facility to spot a fresh coat of paint on the Super Bowl sign, complete with the LVIII emblem. Let’s be honest here: That day three months ago was a tad more important than anything they will do this month.

But that’s the purpose of Mahomes’ argument. It’s a demonstration that it still matters, even if to a different degree.

“In the end, we’re talking about it and trying to find ways to make each other better,” Mahomes said when describing the aftermath of the practice tiffs, and there were more than one of them this week. “I have to give away all my secrets about stuff I know about them, and they do a little bit of the same.”

It’s a reminder that an afternoon in May can have an effect on an evening in February.

Because they believe they have proof it did.

A couple of summers ago, after the Chiefs had blown the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals inside Arrowhead Stadium, I asked Mahomes about the lasting lessons from that day. For all of the things he could’ve picked out over the course of the season, he settled on something before it even began.

“You have to have the attention to detail from the moment the offseason begins,” Mahomes said that day. “You just can’t overlook anything.”

A brief pause.


It was striking that summer how many described Mahomes’ as being ticked off with the way that 2021 season had suddenly ended. Fueled his offseason.

The lingering anger isn’t there now.

The attention to detail? It has to remain anyway.

In the portion open to local media, Mahomes spent much of the OTAs this week barking out instructions to wide receivers — reminding a few of them in succession to run a route flatter to the short corner of the end zone. There were no defenders on a routine drill you might see in high school. He wasn’t even the quarterback during the drill, either.

You could hear his voice from across the field.

That’s hard to ignore. And that’s the idea.

“I think it’s great to hear the coaches do it, but then on top of that, to have a player that voices it ...” Reid said. “I’m sure some of the rookies are looking (around) like, ‘This is crazy.’

“He’s going to get you in the right spot and doing the right things.”

It’s one day of one week on the practice field. A voluntary week, at that.

But it’s not as though this storyline — the focus on the little things — will suddenly evaporate in training camp in a couple of months.

The Chiefs have a gift in their quarterback, and for once that statement is not relegated to how he plays or manages the position.

It’s how he manages something you might think is far less important, but good luck convincing him of it.