By most standards, the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback group is the envy of the football world with Patrick Mahomes under center. While the Super Bowl LIV MVP will seemingly be sticking in Kansas City for the foreseeable future (at least on paper), quarterbacks are not immune to the game’s occasionally unusual circumstances — just ask the Denver Broncos.
Playing with only emergency quarterback and practice squad WR Kendall Hinton, the Chiefs’ AFC West foe took a 31-3 home loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 12, 24 hours after all of its quarterbacks were ruled out and forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 contact-tracing concerns.
The freak scenario has opened the eyes of many who work in and follow the league closely and begs the question: what would Kansas City have done if Mahomes, backup Chad Henne and practice squader Matt Moore were all ruled out?
Follow the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content out of Chiefs Kingdom!
Chiefs Quarterback…Travis Kelce?
In a recent ESPN piece breaking down all 32 teams’ worst-case plans at the position, Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher revealed that it’s All-Pro Travis Kelce who would likely take the reins in an emergency situation:
An option beyond practice squad quarterback Matt Moore is tight end Travis Kelce, who played some at quarterback in college at Cincinnati. Kelce was mostly a runner when he played QB and threw just one pass, though it went for 39 yards and a touchdown. He is 1-of-3 passing with the Chiefs with an interception and almost had a TD pass to Patrick Mahomes during a Week 12 game against the Bucs.
Kelce’s Week 12 trick play pass, which was appropriately nicknamed “Black Pearl” as a tribute to Pirates of the Caribbean, was ultimately unsuccessful after the end zone throw intended for Mahomes was batted down.
Andy Reid: ‘We Have a Couple Guys’ for Emergencies
In the days following the contentious circumstances in Denver, Andy Reid was asked directly about the team’s plans to avoid a similar scenario. But ever the professional, the 22-year veteran head coach was slow to disclose any plans that would put his club at a competitive disadvantage.
“We’ve got guys that we work in as the third quarterback on gameday,” said Reid. “I’m not going to put that out there, but we have a couple guys that we work every week.”
“These monitors end up being real important for us,” Reid elaborated. “So, we make sure if they’re blinking, we don’t want them to blink at all. And they’ve got a good-sized room they can be in where they can have that separation, and plus some. Then, those guys are flawless about wearing their masks. They keep those things on regardless, so that becomes important also.”
High praise for his quarterback room, indeed. To date, Kansas City has had a pretty strong handle on any potential COVID-19 outbreaks. Though, the defending Super Bowl champions avoided a major scare in the early morning hours of Sunday’s Week 13 matchup against Denver, with seven originally positive tests coming back as false-positives after five hours of contact tracing and re-testing.
Mahomes Understands COVID-19 Implications
During his Monday press conference last week, Mahomes was also asked about the team’s health and safety protocols and how they could avoid putting themselves in a similar situation to the Broncos.
“I think we do a great job,” Mahomes told reporters on December 2. “We’re actually in a different room than we have been in years past, a much bigger room. It’s kind of where they used to have staff meetings at and so we’re spread out and there’s only a certain number of guys that can be in that room together so that we have the proper amount of distance between each other.
The 25-year-old superstar, who is also expecting his first child with fiancée Brittany Matthews, clearly understands the implications the virus — more specifically a positive test — could have on his football team, and more importantly, his immediate family.
“Whenever Coach (Andy) Reid or Coach (Eric) Bieniemy comes in there for some of our meetings, we’ll send people out and they’ll virtually meet with us and they’ll still be a part of the virtual part of the experience, but it won’t be where it’s too congested in the room,” Mahomes continued. “Even with that, we still wear our masks and do all that different type of stuff, but I mean it’s something you have to stay on top of. Just like not playing a football game, I have Brittany at home who’s pregnant and high-risk so I try to stay on top of that as much as possible.”
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, CO. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join our Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!