Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill took plenty of criticism last week when he said he didn’t see it as his job to mentor rookie quarterback Malik Willis. Chiefs coach Andy Reid says that in 2017, he told Alex Smith the same thing. But Smith mentored then-rookie Patrick Mahomes anyway.
The Chiefs traded up in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft to select Mahomes, even though Smith was coming off a Pro Bowl season and had led the Chiefs to the playoffs. It would have been easy for Smith to say he wasn’t going to help groom Mahomes to take his job, but Reid said Smith proved a perfect mentor for Mahomes.
“I told Alex, ‘Man go out and have the greatest year you’ve ever had and to you don’t have to teach Pat. We’re here to do that as coaches. You’re out there to go produce and win games and do the best you possibly can for your team.’ And so that’s the way we approached it with him,” Reid told Colin Cowherd, via the Kansas City Star. “Now Alex by nature, though, was the greatest thing that ever happened to Patrick Mahomes. There are different ways to do this thing, whether you play the player right now or some behind a veteran player. Alex was perfect for that. Alex did let Patrick into his world without being forced on it or anything and he let Patrick in it. Patrick handled it the right way and didn’t step in the way of Alex and what he needed to produce and had respect for him. So it worked out perfect. I didn’t have to say a whole lot other than, ‘You go play and go win games, let’s go win a championship. and do the best you possibly can do at the quarterback position.’”
Smith had a good final season in Kansas City, but Mahomes has had a great four seasons leading the Chiefs since then — something Smith gets some credit for.