ALAMEDA — The last time the Kansas City Chiefs took the field, a nation was transfixed at an offensive display against the Los Angeles Rams that included several eye-opening plays by quarterback Pat Mahomes.
DeAndre Washington had seen it all before.
“Looked familiar,” the Raiders running back said Wednesday. “He’s been doing that for a long time, man. When the lights come on, that’s when he plays the best.”
The Chiefs, 9-2, lost 54-51 to the Rams on Nov. 19. Mahomes completed 33 of 46 passes for 478 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions and a pair of lost fumbles. The turnovers were uncharacteristic this season from the second-year quarterback out of Texas Tech. The production, however, is similar to his college days when Washington was the lead running back for the Red Raiders in 2015.
Mahomes passed for 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns while Washington rushed for 1,492 yards on 233 carries. Needing to win their last two games to become bowl eligible, Texas Tech beat Kansas State 59-44 and Texas 48-45. Mahomes passed for 756 yards and five touchdowns in the two games, while Washington rushed for 421 yards on 55 carries.
Together with wide receiver Jakeem Grant, currently on injured reserve with Miami, Mahomes and Washington contributed to one of the nation’s most explosive offenses.
“We just fed off each other’s energy and when coach (Kliff) Kingsbury needed a play he knew it was one of us three that were going to make those plays,” Washington said.
The Raiders get their first look at one of the front-runners for this year’s Most Valuable Player award (along with Saints quarterback Drew Brees) when they host the Chiefs Sunday at the Coliseum. Mahomes ranks third in the NFL in passing yardage behind Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger and leads the NFL with 37 touchdown passes. His passer rating of 117.9 trails only Brees (127.3).
Mahomes has accomplished this with a skill set Raiders coach Jon Gruden called “sickening.” At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Mahomes can throw conventional passes from the pocket or break free and improvise.
“He can throw the ball from any platform,” Gruden said. “Running to his left, fading backwards . . . I compliment everybody. I’ve been accused of that. But this guy, he’s got off-the-chart arm talent. The skill level is unbelievable. He’s got a playing style that reminds me of (Brett) Favre. He’s a young Favre.”
Mahomes is so gifted that fundamentals that are essential with most quarterbacks don’t apply. It’s similar to when Gruden arrived with the Raiders with Jeff George as the quarterback. George was notorious for being sloppy with his footwork yet able to deliver strike after strike. It got so Gruden told backup Donald Hollas, “Don’t watch him. You can’t do it like that.”
On his ESPN quarterbacks show, Gruden cued up film of a pass against Louisiana Tech he called “the greatest throw I’ve ever seen” and asked Mahomes why he hadn’t set his feet.
“Is it because you don’t have to?,” Gruden said. Replied Mahomes: “Exactly.”
Adam Cook, who was Mahomes’ coach at Whitehouse High in Texas, told a local TV affiliate, “God didn’t give out many of those arms,” and Washington realized Mahomes was something special as soon as he arrived in Lubbock to compete with Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield eventually transferred to Oklahoma. Webb transferred to Cal for his senior year after Mahomes was given the starting job.
“He can make throws most guys can’t,” Washington said. “He can be going to his left, twist his body and throw it 60 yards to the other side of the field. You see him do stuff like that all the time when you’re playing with him. The play is never over. If he’s scrambling, you’ve got to scramble. If you find a way to get in his vision, he’ll find a way to get you the ball.”
Mahomes, whose father Pat was a major league pitcher, watched and learned from Alex Smith as a rookie without complaint.
“He’s cool, a down-to-earth guy, man,” Washington said. “Guys gravitate to him because his personality is contagious. Just good people all around.”
Reid on Gruden
Chiefs coach Andy Reid got his NFL start on the Green Bay staff of Mike Holmgren along with fellow assistants Gruden and Steve Mariucci. So he’s not about to be critical of Gruden and the Raiders’ 2-9 record.
“I don’t know, none of us know, including you guys as much as you’re around him, no one knows the whole picture like the head coach does and what needs to be done,” Reid told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “I would defer to him. I’ve known him a long time and I’m very confident in his ability. He’s doing what he thinks is the right things.”
Said Gruden of Reid: “He loves football. He might be one of the few guys I know that likes football more than me. That’s why I treasure him.”
Cook wins Ed Block award
Tight end Jared Cook was selected by his teammates as winner of the Ed Block Courage award, given to the player who “exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.” The award is given annually to one player on each team.
“It means the world to me. It means a lot,” Cook said. “Especially since it came from my teammates.”
Green, Waller signed
Guard Chaz Green and tight end Darren Waller were added to the 53-man roster, while defensive end Jacquise Smith was placed on injured reserve. A former third-round pick out of Dallas, Green was last with the New Orleans Saints but has seen no game action in 2018. Waller, a former wide receiver from Georgia Tech, was signed off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad.
Linebacker James Cowser and special teams player Johnny Holton both cleared waivers and were returned to the practice squad.