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Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs aiming to push ball downfield with new weapons in 2024

Contrary to popular belief, the once-explosive Chiefs have steadily shortened their offense over the last few years.

It became rather apparent in 2022, Kansas City's first season without Tyreek Hill. And it was painfully obvious by the midway point of 2023, so much that folks wondered if the Chiefs could even flirt with Super Bowl contention while leaning on rookie Rashee Rice as their only semi-dependable pass catcher not named Travis Kelce.

Fast-forward to June 2024, and you'll find a Chiefs team that is attempting to turn back the clock with one goal in mind: Push the ball downfield.

"I think it's been cool that we've been trying -- coach (Andy) Reid has gone back to my old days, he's forcing me the push the ball down the field (and) if I don't, he throws little jabs at me like, 'Oh, you want to throw the checkdown here?''' quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Thursday. "I'm like, 'I got you, coach; we're going to push it.' It has been fun.''

In the last two years, Mahomes has had plenty of reason to take checkdowns in order to keep the chains moving. He lacked a true speed demon in his receiving corps, and as evidenced by Marquez Valdes-Scantling's struggles in 2023, he couldn't trust most of his pass catchers to make a play downfield.

This time around, though, the Chiefs appear to have restocked enough to open things up once again. Their addition of Marquise Brown and selection of Texas speedster Xavier Worthy -- new owner of the 40-yard dash record at the NFL Scouting Combine -- have supplied Mahomes with the horses necessary to stretch the field.

Does that mean we'll suddenly see the magic of Mahomes circa 2019-2020? It's not guaranteed, but at least the quarterback has options. Given it's June, Reid would be foolish to not test their limits, especially against a defense that ranked among the best in the NFL last season.

"Yeah, well, really in this camp -- and I always explain this to the quarterbacks -- is that this is the time to find out what you can get away with in the pass game," Reid explained Thursday. "So there are going to be interceptions that take place but that's OK. Right now, you're testing things and then as you go through camp, as camp goes on then you start refining it and hopefully you have the opportunity to do it on every route. Now is that possible? Probably not but at least the ones that you haven't done a lot of and so we're always feeding Patrick new things and that's to help challenge him because he likes that, and it also makes us better.

"So, he gets in there and he's trying to work with these new routes against all these different coverages that (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) Spags is throwing at you. So, it's a nice challenge there."

Minicamp is the perfect environment to experiment. Reid's reputation as a mastermind -- and perhaps, mad scientist -- makes this period a perfect fit for him to tinker. If he has his way, the Chiefs just might hit the field as a laboratory creation deserving to be feared by the other 31 teams.

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