On Monday, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had his first media interaction following the Chiefs’ bye week. Here are some of the key takeaways.
This week, the Chiefs will travel to California for the first of two December games against the Oakland Raiders, now coached by head-coach-turned-color-commentator-turned-media-personality-turned-head-coach-again Jon Gruden, who has managed to stockpile a 10-year, $100 million contract and a pocketful of 2019 first-round draft picks, but so far has led the Raiders to a dismal 2-9 record.
“He’s a phenomenal football coach,” Reid said of Gruden, whom he has known since both served as assistant coaches for the Green Bay Packers in the early 1990s. “He loves it; he’s passionate about it.”
Although Gruden won a Super Bowl for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, he left the NFL coaching ranks after the 2008 season, and became a television analyst. Even though Gruden had been away from coaching for a decade before becoming Raiders head coach this season, Reid said he was sure Gruden would be up to the task.
”He was passionate about it when he was broadcasting. He didn’t get too far away from the game. He was right there. He studied like crazy — just like he was still coaching. His offseasons were spent that same way — studying the game. One thing he was able to do was he got to study everybody and visit and see how things were done at other places. When people said it would be tough for him to come back, I knew how close he had remained to the game.”
And Reid isn’t putting too much stock in the Raiders’ poor 2018 season.
“He’s doing it his way, and I think you’re going to see that over the years,” Reid explained. “The way he’s going about it, it’s not going to be a change overnight. It’s going to be something that takes a little time. He understands that, but he’s trying to build that to where it lasts and it lasts for a long time.”
Reid was asked if he had been concerned about Gruden being the television color commentator during last season’s Chiefs playoff appearance. Television crews are allowed special access to the team each week in order to provide the best possible broadcast.
“We knew each other. I trust him,” Reid said. “He wasn’t going to do anything that I worried about. He wasn’t going to sneak around or anything. That’s not how he rolls. I really wasn’t worried about it. I know how much he studied what we had been doing, as he did the other teams. I wasn’t hiding anything from him that way. I wasn’t real worried about all that.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid showing off his AFC West Championship football to Jon Gruden.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 4, 2018
This is KC's 3rd straight 10-win season. pic.twitter.com/lZ549ccpl2
While Reid is 24-9 against the AFC West since his arrival in 2013, it was against the Raiders — in Oakland — that the Chiefs had their most recent division loss, when they fell 31-30 in Week 7 of 2017. Without that loss, the Chiefs would have won 20 straight against the rest of the division dating back to November of 2015.
“They played well against us and we didn’t play as well as we needed to, obviously,” said Reid about the 2017 loss. “These AFC West opponents, they’re tough places to play at. The main thing is you got to get yourself prepared when you go in there to play against a good football team. Stick with that process and doing that, how you prepare throughout the week and do it the right way. You’ll do better. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily.
“They were playing well, and they played well against us.”
Other notes from Monday’s media opportunity
- The Chiefs and Reid maintained their outlook on the status of Eric Berry, despite various reports. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ foot is still “tender,” per Reid. Watkins left the Chiefs’ last game against the Los Angeles Rams after just five plays.
- Reid confirmed that every Chiefs player had been accounted for after the blizzard that hit the Kansas City area on Sunday.
- Reid had communication with Patrick Mahomes throughout the bye week: “I met with him a couple times before we left. He didn’t leave for a few days. You saw him down at the (Texas Tech) game, obviously. But he didn’t leave for a couple days before he went down there and then I texted with him a few times, but that was about it.”
- Reid revealed he still talks to Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy, the Chiefs’ former offensive coordinator, about once a week: “I’ve seen most of his games, gone back and looked at them. We have all that tape, so I’ll normally buzz through that later in the week and take a peek at it. I think he’s done a phenomenal job.”
- Reid explained why he believe the Chiefs have played so well coming out of halftime this season: “I think whatever adjustments take place have been good ones. I will tell you that the players come out with the right frame of mind. We’ve had the ball a few times offensively, so there’s been a challenge there to come out and try to learn from whatever mistakes we’ve made or whatever the defense is presenting, make our adjustments off of that. I want to say it’s only been a couple times here that the defense has had an opportunity and they’ve done a nice job with it. I think both my offense and defensive coaches and the players have handled halftime the right way.”
- Besides mathematics, Reid said the Chiefs defer possession at the beginning of games so they can hopefully have back-to-back possessions: “You hope you can have an opportunity to finish with the ball and then start the second half with the ball if you’re one of the defer teams, which we are most of the time, at least up to this point. That’s what you hope for and you hope that you can turn that into a positive with points and/or field position.”