Getty Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II and rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice took a massive step together against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Kansas City Chiefs offense broke out in Week 12 and one key factor was the budding connection between quarterback Patrick Mahomes II and rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice — who registered eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
“I think [Rice] has a chance to be a great receiver in this league and we’re going to continue to push him to be that receiver every single week,” Mahomes told reporters on their relationship after the win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
A major reason for Mahomes’ confidence in the rookie is his mentality. “He’s a guy who wants it,” the Chiefs QB explained. “I think that’s the biggest thing.”
When asked how Mahomes can tell he’s motivated, the answer was simple. “He’ll tell you,” the signal-caller said with a laugh. “For young dudes to do that, I mean, that speaks to the type of player that he is.”
Rice echoed that during his own postgame Q&A with the KC media. “I just want him to understand he can trust me when it comes to those [important moments and] throw those balls,” the rookie explained.
Mahomes also made it clear “that’s the type of guys you want” as a QB.
Later, Mahomes noted that Rice only began to get comfortable inside the offense toward the end of training camp, adding that it’s a “complex” system that’s typically hard on younger players.
The second-round talent appeared to agree.
“I feel like [my success] started with the preparation and practice,” the first-year WR stated with honesty. “Just coming in and not getting tired of sharpening up our fundamentals.”
Rice also expressed that he feels “a lot more relaxed” now that he’s had some time to learn the playbook.
“I think they’ve shown a lot more confidence in me,” the rookie said about Mahomes and the coaching staff. “I kind of feel like that started in practice. It doesn’t just start with me making big plays in the game, it starts with me running that same shallow in practice full-speed and giving a game-rep [and] a game-look so they know they can trust me on gameday.”
As for his newfound chemistry with Mahomes, Rice voiced that he never doubts his quarterback and his ability to get him the football.
“I knew that just getting drafted by the Chiefs, I had a great quarterback,” he said. “Obviously, they didn’t pick me up just to be a part of the team, they wanted me to contribute and that’s really it. I just came in with the right mentality, ready to work.
As for Rice’s role moving forward, Mahomes appears to be patiently optimistic.
“We’ve been designing plays to get him down the field,” the QB acknowledged on Rice’s involvement. “It’s just with the coverages we’ve been getting… people have dropped and I’ve thrown it underneath. But I do think he can take that step, he has the ability and you saw it on that [touchdown reception].”
“It’s not just go routes,” Mahomes added. “I think [Rice] can get across the field. Obviously, y’all see the versatility with the football, but he has the speed to win downfield. We’ll continue to expand his role.”
Earlier in the string of postgame press conferences, head coach Andy Reid also pointed out that Rice has “got the trust of the quarterback” at this stage of the season. That’s huge for this integral offensive partnership as time goes on.
Unfortunately, superstar tight end Travis Kelce will eventually call it quits. When that day comes, Mahomes will need a new No. 1 target, and Rice might have what it takes to become that player.
“There’s little things here and there that we have to continue to work on but for the most part he learned from his mistakes and gets better every single week,” Mahomes reiterated about Rice.
This could be the start of another great offensive duo in Kansas City.
Michael Obermuller covers the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals for Heavy.com, where he began working in 2021. An NYC area native and Quinnipiac graduate, his previous bylines include FanDuel’s The Duel, King Fantasy Sports and Pro Football Mania. More about Michael Obermuller