Why Patrick Mahomes credits Alex Smith for his early-career success

Ethan Cadeaux
NBC Sports Washington

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has arguably had the best two-season stretch as a starter to begin a career of any signal-caller in the history of the NFL.

But before the 24-year old had a Super Bowl title, Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP awards to his name, he sat behind and learned plenty from current Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. 

During his postgame press conference following the Chiefs' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Mahomes specifically mentioned Smith and how much the veteran quarterback meant to him during the one year they overlapped in Kansas City.

"I learned a ton from Alex Smith," Mahomes said. "I attribute a lot of my success, especially so early in my career, to him.

"The way he was able to go about being a professional, going out and having the great year he had my first year, and just seeing how he went about it every single day," Mahomes continued. "How he game-planned, how he recognized coverages. He didn't hold anything back from me. He taught me. That's just the type of person he was, and he is."

Smith was traded to the Redskins in March of 2018, allowing the Mahomes era to truly begin in Kansas City. Initially, the trade seemed to be a win-win for both sides.

Mahomes took the league by storm during his first season as a starter in 2019, which ended with No. 15 earning league MVP honors. Smith, who replaced Kirk Cousins as the Redskins starting QB following Cousins' departure to Minnesota, led Washington to a 6-3 start before suffering a gruesome leg injury in November against the Texans.

The injury required close to 20 surgeries, and Smith missed the entire 2019 season. Earlier this month, he told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap he was "lucky to be alive." Smith continues to try to return to football but knows that it is nowhere close to a guarantee.

Washington decided to draft their hopeful franchise quarterback of the future when they selected Ohio State passer Dwayne Haskins in the first round of last year's draft. Haskins had an up-and-down season as a rookie but showed promise towards the end of the season.

Should Smith be able to return, new head coach Ron Rivera said he would have the opportunity to compete with Haskins for the starting job. While that's Smith's goal, he knows he still has plenty of steps to go in the recovery process.

"To put it in perspective, dwelling on any of those things that are outside of my control really do me no good," Smith told ESPN. "I'm giving 100% into obviously healing up and getting back and taking care of my family. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself when I get there."

The 35-year-old said during locker room cleanout in December that he doesn't believe his return to football would impact Haskins' career path. Smith reiterated that thought to ESPN, too. Smith faced a similar situation with Mahomes in Kansas City, and we all can see how it worked out for the Chiefs.

"There are the realities of the profession. Yeah, we did draft Dwayne [Haskins] for the future," Smith said. "This isn't my first time in that situation. I realize that his path and my path, we aren't necessarily pitted against each other. That's not the reality of the situation. I need to come back and prove that I can play quarterback in the NFL. If I can do that, that would be great."

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Why Patrick Mahomes credits Alex Smith for his early-career success originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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