Patrick Mahomes is a proponent of "letting them play," but he thought the hit that concussed JuJu Smith-Schuster should have been punished.
In the second quarter of the Chiefs’ win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mahomes threw a pass over the middle to Smith-Schuster. A split-second after making the catch, Smith-Schuster got popped with a head-to-head hit by Jags safety Andre Cisco.
The wideout laid on the ground motionless before ultimately being helped to his feet and walking with assistance back to the locker room.
Mahomes said in his weekly appearance on “The Drive” that seeing Smith-Schuster later on helped ease his concern.
“It helped that we saw JuJu after the game. You got to see him and see that he was moving around,” Mahomes said. “Obviously, he has a lot of stuff to do as far as, I’m pretty sure, the protocol and stuff like that, but it was good to see him having a smile on his face and everything like that, we weren't as worried.
“Obviously, we don’t want that to happen, and I take it upon myself too because I’m leading him and throwing him the ball kind of into that hit. So, it’s definitely a bad feeling for me as a quarterback, but I was glad to see he was doing OK after the game.”
At the time of the injury, there still was over six minutes left in the first half. Mahomes admitted that dialing back in after witnessing something like that can be difficult.
“It’s extremely hard. … We’re playing football, this is a game, but at the same time you care about your brothers on the field,” Mahomes said. "I’ve already built a close relationship with JuJu and you want to make sure that he’s all right. You’re always asking the trainers and asking everybody on the sidelines how he’s doing and everything like that.
“Once they said that he was doing good, you can kind of lock back in. But anytime there’s a big injury or something like that that’s scary, you want to make sure that guys are good to go.”
A flag was thrown on the play right when it happened, but the referees later picked it up and said there was no infraction. They had ultimately decided the contact was shoulder-to-shoulder and not head-to-head.
Smith-Schuster is used to playing in the middle of the field, where many of those hits tend to happen. Quarterbacks can do what they can to try to prevent their receivers from ending up in positions to sustain those types of hits, but the game moves so fast that’s not always possible.
Still, head-to-head hits long have been something players have said they want out of the game.
“I’m usually a guy that says let them play,” Mahomes said. “Defenses are put in tough positions to try to make plays on the football. But anytime there’s helmet-to-helmet that’s just stuff that we want to try as best we can to get out of football, because we want to protect these guys.
“I understand defensive guys are trying to do their best to stay away from it, but at the same time you want to do whatever you can to get that stuff out of there because you don’t want anyone getting hurt at the end of the day.”
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