AFC Notes: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes


The relationship between Broncos QB Russell Wilson and HC Nathaniel Hackett is not “coach-player,” according to NBC Sports’ Peter King. “They’re partners,” is how it was explained to him. 

Hackett says he wants Wilson to get rid of the ball sooner and rely less upon his legs on a regular basis.

It’s gotten to the point that I go, ‘Hey, you’re late,‘” Hackett said. “Or Russ says it before I do. Or he talks about it because he knows that that’s the standard I want. I don’t want him to be touched. I don’t want him to have to run around. Now sometimes, you have to, but those ones I can’t control. The more that he feels that and understands that, the better it’s going to be.


Chargers HC Brandon Staley is a big believer in games being won and lost on either side of the line of scrimmage. When he took the job, though, he understood it would take time. The Chargers focused on rebuilding the offensive line in his first season. This offseason, they turned their focus to the defense and added a wave of big-bodied interior linemen including Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, plus the trade for star OLB Khalil Mack and rounding out their depth inside with DL Morgan Fox and fifth-round DL Otito Ogbonnia.

“The way we play is a 180 from how they played on defense [last year],” Staley said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “There’s a lot of ways to play, but the way we believe in playing is with size up front. We knew there was going to be the transition, and we were going to do it in our second year. Kind of like how our second year solidified our O-line a little bit, in terms of getting Zion [Johnson]. I think next year, you’re gonna be able to see the depth and the quality be where we expect it.”


The evolution for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes started last season when defenses took away the deep ball and forced him into the first slump of his career. He responded and bounced back to end the season, and he’s working this offseason to solidify those gains and make that slump a rare occurrence. Mahomes wants to be able to take the shorter passes the defense is yielding to defend the big play while not losing his aggressive edge completely. 

“I’m so much better at recognizing coverages and knowing where to get the ball out and when to get the ball out in certain situations,” he said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I think when I was a little younger, I knew what the progression was, but I was just trying to get through that progression and throw the ball to whoever was open. I wasn’t necessarily looking at the coverage, seeing what the defense was doing, doing all of that different type of stuff.

“There’s kind of a happy medium I have to find where I’ve seen some stuff sometimes. I feel like I get through my reads almost too quick, because I know what the defense is supposed to do. But at the same time, they’re not always right. So you want to just make sure you’re getting through your reads and giving everybody a chance. And that’s something that I’ve kind of battled with, how to be aggressive and not being too aggressive.”

The Chiefs have been thrilled with how Mahomes has taken on more ownership of the offense, especially with so many new pieces coming in. It all speaks to what they think his biggest strength is and why the league won’t ever really have him figured out for long: leadership. 

“It’s his DNA,” Chiefs GM Brett Veach said. “Some people are just blessed like that; they’re wired like that. You wish all your guys were like that. He’s got a Hall of Fame résumé already, but you wouldn’t know it if you came here. You’d think he’s just getting started. It’s real. I certainly know we don’t take it for granted, because that’s not everywhere; that’s not every player. But that’s him and that’s who he is. It’s great on one end, from the coaching staff’s point of view. And it’s extremely motivating for my staff and our organization in general.”

  • PFF’s Doug Kyed notes a league source expects the Chiefs to address Mahomes’ contract “sooner than later” given he’s starting to fall behind some other quarterbacks. 
  • However, Kyed adds that’s a relative phrasing given the length of Mahomes’ deal and nothing is imminent right now. 

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  1. Patrick Mahomes is still young and smart enough to know he’s got more to learn. He recognizes what he’s been doing and knows what he needs to do, sooo WATCH OUT defenses.

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