Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

November 01, 2018 at 1:38 am.

–As long as they remain together in the NFL, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Browns passer Baker Mayfield will likely find themselves hearing the same comparisons given origins at Texas Tech and one of the craziest games in college football history.

Texas Tech served as college football’s cradle of quarterbacks. Their 2013 recruiting class included Davis Webb and walk-on Mayfield. The duo hosted Mahomes on a recruiting visit, and he arrived on campus in 2014.

“Both of those guys are really, really cool dudes and they kind of just let me come in and hang out with them and all their friends,” Mahomes said.

Mayfield started for the Red Raiders in 2013 before transferring to Oklahoma after the season. Webb took over as starter in 2014, but an injury forced him from the lineup. Mahomes took over as starter, a job he never relinquished, and Webb later transferred to California.

“Just kind of watching them and watching them play and have success doing their things, it’s cool to watch knowing we were all kind of in the same spot at one time,” Mahomes said.

Mayfield returned to Lubbock, Tex. in 2016, leading the Sooners to visit the Red Raiders, and Mahomes and Mayfield engaged in one of the most explosive shootouts in college football history. Oklahoma prevailed 66-59, but Mahomes finished with 734 yards passing, tying the FBS record for most passing yards in a game.

“At the time it felt like we were playing basketball with the score,” Mayfield said. “It was a crazy game to be a part of.”

Mahomes completed 52-of-88 passes with five touchdowns, while Mayfield finished 27-of-36 for 545 yards and seven scores.

“It was an exhausting game back and forth, an exciting game,” Mayfield said. “And looking back on it it’s one that I’ll probably never forget.”

Mayfield sees himself and Mahomes as part of a new generation of quarterbacks changing the prototype of a NFL passer.

“I think the old-school frame of mind is to find your 6-5 quarterback to stand in the pocket and throw the ball,” Mayfield said. “The game’s changing. Guys are a lot faster, you’re able to get to the quarterback, you’ve got to be able to move and extend plays and just make things happen.”

–Dee Ford won his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award on Wednesday, but the fifth-year linebacker has his eyes on a bigger prize.

“It’s great for me, but my blinders are on right now,” Ford said. “This team is on a bigger mission. There’s not a lot of time to celebrate. We have a bigger mission of what we are trying to do.”

Ford gathered three quarterback sacks and forced two fumbles against the Denver Broncos in Week 8 in capturing the weekly honor. He’s the second Chiefs player earning weekly AFC honors this season, joining quarterback Patrick Mahomes who won the offensive award in each of the first two weeks.

The Chiefs reshuffled their coaching staff this year, breaking the linebacker coaching position into two jobs, with coach Mike Smith handling the outside linebackers. Ford credits Smith with helping him with the big start with eight sacks through the first half of the season.

“Every day we do the same thing and we are getting better at smaller things,” Ford said. “It’s crazy, we’ve played for so many years, and Justin (Houston) and I talk all the time with our steps being awful at times. We are just so athletic and strong we can just get away with it. But now, having that coach, Mike is phenomenal.”

He says an emphasis on mental approach and fundamentals have helped fuel his success.

“It’s not necessarily the move, it’s the mindset,” Ford said. “It’s maturity, and again, being more efficient with what you do. Those are the small things we work on. Steps, hand placement, small, finer details. That’s where your game can really improve.”

Ford seemed to predict his quick start during training camp, when he said he felt healthy and poised for a big season.

“I didn’t know, I was just guessing,” Ford laughed.

–Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams came up through the ranks of college and NFL coaching on the defensive side of the football, but he grew up wanting to play quarterback like his hometown hero, Chiefs Hall of Famer Len Dawson.

“Len Dawson was the guy I revered and wanted to be like,” Williams said.

He was born and raised in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, just under 30 miles from Kansas City. The Chiefs won two AFL titles during his youth, including Super Bowl IV when he was 11 years old.

“I’m a diehard Chiefs fan, always have been,” Williams said.

Each summer Williams returns to Excelsior Springs for a fundraising even to raise money for the town’s youth athletics programs. His foundation says it has donated more than $800,000 to schools and organizations in the area.

“I’m very blessed that every year I say it can’t get better and each and every year it gets better and better and better,” Williams said.

Each year Williams’ foundation hosts a live auction with about 70 items, including a VIP experience package. The winner receives sideline passes to a game where Williams is coaching and gets to watch practice, tour the team’s facilities and stay at the same hotel as the players before the game.

The top bidder in this year’s auction to travel to Cleveland to watch the Browns battle the Chiefs, Williams said, is a member of the Red Coaters, a service organization of local business leaders who help the club with community projects.

“I said, ‘Look, I can’t pay your doctor bill if you wear that red coat in Browns’ stadium. You can’t wear that coat in Browns’ Stadium because it will not go over well,’ and they were all laughing,” Williams said.

His ties to the Chiefs also extend to head coach Andy Reid, whom Williams first met when Reid served as offensive line coach at the University of Missouri. Williams later spent four seasons as assistant head coach with Washington while Reid was in Philadelphia.

“I have so much respect for Andy Reid,” Williams said. “He and I go way, way back, back at his University of Missouri days, back when I was barely getting started with the Oilers and coming down there, and I used to speak at the University of Missouri on some of their coaches clinics when he was still on that staff back then in the old days.”

Life hasn’t been all wine and roses for Williams, however. After his three-year stint as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Williams returned to his role as a defensive coach for Washington, Jacksonville and New Orleans.

“I’ve had 11 other opportunities since I left Buffalo on letters coming in to be a head coach, and four of them I didn’t even have to go interview, just sign the contract,” Williams claimed.

Then Williams received a one-year suspension from the NFL for his involvement in the New Orleans Saints bountygate scandal in 2012. The league alleged Williams ran a bounty program that paid bonuses to players for deliberate attempts to injure opponents. But Williams never considered leaving football.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I turned down the opportunity to go into several other professions and do what I’m doing. There’s no other thing that I want to do other than this.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – The number of touchdown passes Patrick Mahomes needs to tie the Chiefs’ franchise record for touchdown passes in a season. Hall of Famer Len Dawson holds the current mark of 30 touchdown scores set during the 1964 season. Mahomes has five games with four or more touchdowns this season.