Patrick Mahomes is secure in his status as one of the NFL’s superstar quarterbacks, but even he knows that nothing is guaranteed. The strength of the opposition is always growing, and he has always seen meticulous preparation as key to his success.
The stats don’t lie, and even though Mahomes went from the top quarterback in 2020 to number 5 in 2021, he was still the NFL’s top player when it came to preventing pressures becoming sacks. This is testament to his deep knowledge of the game and his opponents, and why his mantra is: ‘Become The Nerd’!
RSNG Being the quarterback is such a pressure-filled position isn’t it. How do you cope with that? PATRICK MAHOMES, LEADING NFL QUARTERBACK “I absolutely love it. I’ve learned how to cope right back from the beginning. I’ve had amazing advice and guidance from Coach Kingsbury, who knows exactly what it takes and that was such a privilege to sit and listen, to take onboard the chats on the practice field, from the sideline in the team huddle in between plays, everything.”
“But it’s also putting that all into practice and now in the NFL, I’ve got those team-mates who protect me and give me the time I need to pick out the best routes on the field.”
“And when you’ve got some of the best rushers coming towards you, giving you on average between just two and three seconds to make that right decision, it’s sometimes make-or-break.”
“You could be down two scores in the fourth quarter and then, the margins are fine. But I always trust my ability to find my receiver and make the plays that are needed to win the game. You have to relish that pressure, because every play is important and they make you the person and player you will be remembered as.”
RSNG You’re already a fully-fledged NFL star, but things could have been so different as you were also a talented baseball pitcher? PATRICK MAHOMES “Well, my dad played for six teams in the MLB and I love baseball. It was definitely a difficult choice between whether I was going to go for baseball or football. But when I started playing football, I just seemed to fall in love with it more.”
“I don’t know whether it was the fact that it was more of an adrenaline rush trying to stay in the pocket and get the pass off, make the runs to get a first down or the determination to recover from a previous sack. But football quite literally hit me harder.”
“I knew that I could be so much better as a football player but also understood how much it was going to take to improve to the level that I needed to be at. So, regardless of which path I chose, it was always going to mean a lot of hard work and sacrifices to get there.”
“Football was the route that I chose and I wanted to be the absolute best that I could each play, each game and each year and I still haven’t lost that drive to be better all of the time. I think once you lose that, it’s time to quit, but hopefully those days are way off in the future.”
If you don’t know what you’re going to do before you do it, you are at a massive disadvantage
RSNG What’s your advice that you would pass onto youngsters who would love to follow in your footsteps? PATRICK MAHOMES “The most important thing for me is to be prepared. I grew up watching a man who is up there with the best quarterbacks in the history of our great game – Tom Brady.”
“If you don’t know what you’re going to do before you do it, you are at a massive disadvantage. Hesitation is weakness, and if the opposition can find your weakness quickly, they will target it.”
“Also think about variety – prepare for different scenarios and act them out. You can’t use the same play all of the time.”
“Next – push the margins. In this game, just like in any sport, they are so fine; so know your game, your team’s playbook and the opposition’s methods. Give yourself that edge in the important moments of games.”
‘Finally, become a total student of the game by watching footage of everything that can benefit you. Become the nerd!”
RSNG You chose to forego your last year at Texas Tech and enter the NFL Draft. What made you feel the time was right? PATRICK MAHOMES “Well, it was a joint decision between myself, my family, my coach at Texas Tech at the time Coach Kingsbury and we all felt that it was the right time to try and achieve my dream of becoming a professional athlete.”
“We all just felt that it would be the right decision to come to after a long series of discussions about my future, especially as they knew how determined I was to make it work.”
“I have always been ambitious and I wanted to show people that the faith they had in me, the time they had all sacrificed and the help, advice and guidance they gave to me, I was going to use and prove not just to them, but to myself, that this was the right decision. Thankfully, it has turned out that way, so far.”
RSNG You must have felt the pressure before you entered the Draft that the previous three best QBs from Texas Tech had broken records, but never actually gone on to start an NFL game? PATRICK MAHOMES “I did, but I was always working hard to break the mould and make sure that although those guys were great players and Texas Tech has a great record of producing players for the Draft – over 150, I think – I wanted to be up there with the best.”
“But the only way that I was going to do that was to practice, get my workouts and routines done, put in my best performances in the combine and hope that was enough to get a good pick with a good team and one who would allow me the time and patience to prove my worth and appreciation to them for picking me.”
“Coach Kingsbury won a Superbowl ring with the New England Patriots in his time as a player, so that was such a huge advantage to have a coach who believed in me, who knew what it took to make it to the NFL and also to be successful once he got there.”
Forget the things that you cannot control – once a dropped pass, or a missed throw or a sack has happened, it’s gone
RSNG What do you think is the strongest part of your game? PATRICK MAHOMES ‘I’d like to think that my game is balance and well-rounded, but only because of what I have put myself through to get here.
‘The mental side of things is just as important as the physical side. You can do all the weights, all the exercises, all the routines, all the practice on the field, but if you have a fragile state of mind where you don’t trust yourself to get it done when it matters, all that has gone to waste.’
RSNG Because mistakes happen even to the best? PATRICK MAHOMES ‘That’s right. You’re not going to make every throw, you’re not going to complete every hand-off, your receivers won’t make every catch, there are going to be errors or mistakes or great defensive play from the opposition.
‘But you have to make sure that your mentality is to forget the things that you cannot control. Once a dropped pass, or a missed throw or a sack has happened, it’s gone – it’s gone, you’re not going to change that. Even the greatest players of all-time can’t turn back time.
‘So, just being there in the game and making sure you are there to go for it when it’s there for the taking. No-one likes to be scoring points in ‘garbage time’ when the game is over as a contest.’
WHAT NEXT? From attack to defence – read the RSNG interview with LA Rams Super Bowl hero Aaron Donald.