One of Andy Reid’s best and perhaps most under-publicized traits is the way he goes about handling his people. Notice how during post-loss press conferences, media members can ask questions in any which way—and who gets the blame regardless? He puts it on himself.
“I need to do a better job,” he commonly says.
It’s the principal reason why players love to play for him and coaches love to coach for him. And furthermore, it’s why one of the most interesting parts of Sunday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and his Kansas City Chiefs has nothing to do with the players on the field.
On Sunday, one of his people—a former player and assistant he played a major role in getting a head-coaching job for in Doug Pederson—will be trying to beat him at his own game.
“I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s doing a nice job [in Philadelphia],” Reid said this week. “He’s got a good football team, he’s got good coaches, so they’ll come in and be ready to go. Once you start the game, though, you’re playing the game and it really doesn’t necessarily matter who’s over there.”
I’d argue that maybe it does.
Sunday’s game will be fascinating to watch, and it’s because of who’s over there, because of how similar their offenses are.
“[It’s] very similar,” Reid said, comparing Philadelphia’s offense to that of the Chiefs. “They have a little bit of influx of the old San Diego staff in there so you’re getting a little bit of that. But for the most part it’s what we do here, same type of thing. The base part of it.”
So, can Pederson beat Reid at his own game? Well, he certainly has the personnel to do it.
Carson Wentz, now in his second year, showed elite pocket presence in the Eagles’ Week 1 game against Washington, connecting with wide receiver Nelson Agholor and running back LeGarette Blount for touchdowns as part of a 307-yard effort.
Reid took note.
“He’s a pretty talented kid,” Reid said of Wentz. “I think they made a great move by taking him and he’s coming off of a good game against Washington. He made a couple plays that were phenomenal.”
Besides Wentz, the greater challenge for the Chiefs defense will be adjusting to life without Eric Berry, with Daniel Sorensen and Eric Murray expected to pick up the slack.
After the Patriots avoided cornerback Marcus Peters at all costs, expect Terrance Mitchell to once again be the center of attention on passing downs. Looking back at the tape, he had a decent game overall against New England but was victim to four penalties.
“Obviously the penalties are something that he needs to work on,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He knows that’s something he has to work on in practice. If he ends up grabbing or holding, I say it’s usually because of your feet or your eyes. So you’ve got to work on those and that’s how you have to improve that. The one thing about Mitchell is he is highly competitive and to his credit, he doesn’t back off.”
As Pederson tries to exploit Mitchell and the Chiefs defense, Reid and the “new” Alex Smith could take advantage of a wounded Eagles secondary.
Eagles top cornerback Ronald Darby injured his ankle last game and won’t play, opening the door for tight end Travis Kelce to get back in the mix, as well as an opportunity for good production from Tyreek Hill.
But that can only happen if the Chiefs offensive line manages to give Smith time against a very strong Eagles front seven.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who, by the way, was one of the players discovered by now-Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, already registered a sack last week.
“There are so many positives that go into Fletcher,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. “He’s a dynamic football player and he’s extremely athletic. I remember when we were there he was always there doing backup snaps wanting to be the long snapper to help out if anything happened. He has a great personality and he has a high motor.”
It’s also worth watching how Reid uses rookie running back Kareem Hunt after the best first career game in NFL history. Hunt could be the key to helping Reid’s offense outplay Pederson’s.
In his career, Reid is 8-3 against his former assistants, the losses only coming via Leslie Frazier, John Harbaugh and Ron Rivera.
With an upset at Arrowhead, Pederson would join that exclusive club, while Reid will tell you he needs to do a better job. Reid doesn't know blame, and it’s one of the many reasons Sunday will be his 12th career matchup against one of his people.