Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

December 20, 2018 at 1:01 pm.

–Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hopes he’s too busy preparing for the Super Bowl to attend the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 27, but that doesn’t take away any of the excitement of winning the starting quarterback role for the AFC team this season.

“It is truly a special thing,” Mahomes said. “I remember growing up as a little kid watching the skills challenges and the Pro Bowl and thinking how cool it was. For me to be in this spot, it’s a credit to my teammates making me look really, really good out there.”

Mahomes earned the start for the AFC opposite New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for the NFC. The two quarterbacks top most of the lists for MVP honors. Mahomes leads the league in passing yards with 4,543 as well as touchdowns with 45. Brees leads the league in passer rating with Mahomes right behind him at No. 2.

The 23-year-old Mahomes can burnish his MVP resume this weekend with a win on the road at Seattle. The Chiefs can clinch the AFC West with a win and loss by the Los Angeles Chargers. If the Chiefs clinch the division on Sunday, they can also claim home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a Houston Texans loss or if they clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Texans.

Seattle has its own playoff hopes on the line this week as well. The Seahawks can clinch a playoff berth with a win and with losses by Washington or Minnesota.

“It’s going to be a hostile environment,” Mahomes said. “We got to play them in the preseason last year and you could sense how crazy and loud it was going to be, even in a preseason game. You know with it being a playoff implication game, it’s going to be rocking pretty heavily. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said he’s impressed with how quickly Mahomes has picked up head coach Andy Reid’s offensive scheme.

“I think it’s been a great fit obviously with Patrick,” Carroll said. “Their ability to get him to play so consistently at such a high level so early is what is impressive.”

–The Chiefs landed six players on the AFC Pro Bowl team unveiled Tuesday night, with returning Pro Bowlers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill joined by four first-time honorees in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left tackle Eric Fisher, fullback Anthony Sherman and linebacker Dee Ford.

Fisher celebrated Tuesday night with his family and friends around the league.

“I’ve got mom and grandma in town, so they were all excited,” Fisher said. “(I’m) trying to stay focused. We’ve got a lot of work to do this season. You don’t get too far off track of what we’ve been doing. But it’s definitely fun to get texts, get the calls, just people who have been behind me since Day 1 real excited for me.”

Fisher entered the league with enormous expectations as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 draft. Injuries and inconsistent play marked the early part of his career, but Fisher has emerged as an iron man at left tackle for the Chiefs. His 83 consecutive games played rank No. 2 among tackles behind teammate Mitchell Schwartz and third overall among all offensive linemen.

His first Pro Bowl nomination comes in his sixth season, and also comes at a time when Fisher feels the most comfortable in his career in his role on the team. He says it doesn’t matter where he started but rather that he feels he’s improved each and every season in the league.

“I think I can say personally for myself that I think that’s happened,” Fisher said. “I’m not stopping just because I achieved something. Keep on going, keep trying to get getter every year however long I do this thing. But to get some recognition for the work that I’ve put in over the last six years; real good feeling.”

Sherman earned his first Pro Bowl recognition in his eighth season in the league. He said he soaked it in Tuesday night, but wanted to get back to the normal routine on Wednesday.

“I was excited, it was a great honor to be elected to the Pro Bowl,” Sherman said. “We’ve got bigger and better things we’re trying to do here, like win a Super Bowl.

Two other Chiefs appeared to have strong cases for Pro Bowl honors. Defensive end Chris Jones ranks third in the AFC with 14 sacks on the season, while right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has allowed just 2.5 sacks on the season and ranks No. 4 among offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus.

“It stinks, we want everyone possible we can get on the team,” Sherman said. “It would be fun, but it happens.”

Head coach Andy Reid said both Jones and Schwartz were deserving of recognition.

“As a coach you want them all to make it,” Reid said. “They are all busting their tail for you and doing a heck of a job. Somewhere, someone doesn’t make it. Who knows why or the reasons why.”

Reid normally doesn’t make too much of a big deal with Pro Bowl announcements. With two games remaining in the season and the Chiefs vying for both the AFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs, Fisher said Reid made quick work of the announcement Wednesday.

“Quick congratulations this morning in the meeting and then Seattle,” Fisher said.

–Former Kansas Jayhawks defensive back Bradley McDougald started his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs in 2013, and while he didn’t find a home in Kansas City, he has settled in as valuable leader in the Seattle secondary for head coach Pete Carroll.

“His smarts, his toughness, his versatility, his confidence has really helped,” Carroll said. “He’s really jumped at the opportunity and he’s had a very, very active year. He’s made plays all over the place and done a great job.”

McDougald bounced on and off the Chiefs roster and practice squad as a rookie in 2013 before Tampa Bay claimed him off waivers in November. He eventually won a starting role with the Buccaneers, starting 36 games over parts of four seasons. In 2016 he turned in 91 total tackles with two interceptions and 10 passes defended.

He joined Seattle as a free agent in 2017 and started the season as the backup behind free safety Earl Thomas. He later stepped into the starting lineup when strong safety Kam Chancellor went down with a neck injury. His performance last year propelled McDougald to a three-year, $13.95 million contract extension with Seattle.

“He really jumped in last year when Kam got hurt and just kind of picked up,” Carroll said. “He’d been a starter before and played like a starter and acted like it in all ways. (He) gave us really in the transition we’re going through since the end of last year, leadership that really it’s hard to value.”

McDougald left Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers with patella tendinitis, which puts his availability against his former team in doubt. Second-year safeties Delano Hill and Shalom Luani filled in against the 49ers with McDougald out of the game.

“With Bradley getting banged up, we needed those guys and we had to keep our special packages alive,” Carroll said. “They jumped right in there and did a nice job. They prepared really well. Both guys made some nice plays in the game. That’s just helping us move ahead with confidence that those guys can go in and we can use those guys if we need them this weekend.”

Carroll said McDougald was pretty sore on Monday, but hopes he can play Sunday.

“He’ll be out of the area working on his stuff, but we’ll see him back on Friday,” Carroll said

BY THE NUMBERS: 879 — Total points scored during Chiefs games this season, with Kansas City averaging a league-best 35.6 points per game and allowing 27.1 points per game, fifth-worst in the league. That puts the Chiefs on pace for 1,005 combined points in their games this year, which would tie the 2013 Denver Broncos for second-most in league history behind the 1,011 total points scored in St. Louis Rams games in 2000.