Patrick Mahomes has known that Isiah Pacheco had the tools to contribute to the Kansas City Chiefs offense since they first began working together in training camp. For the rookie to put it all together, though? That was on him to take the initiative and learn from the veterans in the room.
Pacheco managed to do that throughout the 17-game regular season, emerging as a key contributor to the team’s offensive success. Most recently, Pacheco had 85 scrimmage yards in the AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the second-highest mark on the team next to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
“Obviously, he was extremely talented and had all the tools and wanted to work and I think that was a big thing,” Mahomes said. “As he learned patience and was able to hit the hole and still get those extra yards, but having patience – you saw the run game take off. And then protection-wise, he’s gotten better and better and doesn’t make the same mistake. It took all of us to help him.”
While Mahomes feels he’s had some positive impact on Pacheco’s growth and development, he says that Jerick McKinnon has been the most impactful. The ninth-year veteran has seen a lot of football and acts as another coach on the field according to Mahomes.
“I had some impact there, but I think Jerick McKinnon was probably the biggest impact for him and he was willing to teach and y’all see Jerick blocking and running routes and running the football and how much of a veteran presence he is. But he’s basically like a coach too because he can coach those young guys up and get them in the right position as well and it takes great leaders like that in order to have a great team.”
Pacheco’s clearly improved as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker, two components vital to the running back position in Kansas City. That won’t just help him and the Chiefs down the stretch in the playoffs, but it’ll also help his longevity in the NFL, just as those two skills have helped McKinnon play into his thirties.