Despite the universal acclaim, the young Padawan still has several steps to take before becoming a Jedi Knight.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff have thrown the kitchen sink at their new starter during offseason practices. During Thursday's OTA session open to the media, Mahomes struggled, completing just 4 of 15 passes with an interception in a full-squad session. He went 7 for 12 with an INT in 7-on-7 drills, per ESPN's Adam Teicher.
Normally we'd scoff at tracking completion percentage and interceptions during OTAs. In the Chiefs' case, however, it's instructive in how much the coaching staff is putting on Mahomes' plate, knowing he must run the offense at full capacity come September if K.C. is to return to the playoffs.
"[Coaches] have really tried to throw a lot at the whole offense," Mahomes said Thursday, brushing off his struggles, via the team's official website. "If you want to make mistakes you make them now. You don't want to make those mistakes in the game so we throw a lot now so when we get to the game it's a lot easier."
Reid likewise dismissed Mahomes' practice struggles as part of the process of getting the new quarterback up to speed.
"No, and I've mentioned this to you guys before when Alex [Smith] was here and so on, these are camps where you want to test," Reid said when asked if the interceptions were worrisome. "We throw in a lot of new stuff so you want to test what you can get away with in these camps, so you're going to have interceptions. That doesn't bother me. If you repeat it, now that's a problem but you want to test it and see what you can get away with. That's all a part of the way this thing works."
Mahomes garnered nearly widespread praise for his singular outing in 2017, in which he completed 22 of 33 passes for 284 yards with one interception. The big-armed quarterback showed some 'wow' throws and flashed the traits that caused the Chiefs to leap up in the first round to select him last year. Ultimately, it was that game that made Reid and the Chiefs comfortable transitioning from Smith to the youngster.
Offseason practices aren't used only for testing a young QB's limits. Coaches also need to discern what Mahomes does well to tailor the playbook to his skill set.
"I want him to be exposed to things and that's what you do," Reid said. "Then you work with it and put your personality on these different things. Try to find the things that he's best at, work the offense around him like we did with Alex. We worked the offense around Alex and built it around him and now it's this kid's turn and you have to kind of feel that part out. He's gonna keep firing and that's all we want, and learning, it's a great time for that. That's what this is all about right here."
Mahomes' struggles in the spring shouldn't be taken as a precursor to problems in autumn. They should simply be used as a reminder -- a soft brake on the hype train, if you will -- that we shouldn't assume the transition from Smith to Mahomes won't have some bumps along the way.