Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes took their turns speaking to the press on Wednesday. Here are some of the key takeaways from the media sessions:
Naturally, Eric Berry’s return was Topic A with the press on Wednesday — and Reid actually said they’d be evaluating Berry “play by play.”
After once again emphasizing the communication that the team has had with Berry about his condition since he was first held out of practice in August, Reid said that they would be careful to ease Berry into full practices.
“We will just see how he’s doing,” Reid said. “There’s no pressure there. It’s just how he feels. We will take it play-by-play.”
Neither would Reid commit himself to Berry playing against the Oakland Raiders this Sunday — or in any upcoming game.
“No idea on that,” Reid said. “We just want to get him out there and see how he does. I wouldn’t tell you one way or another; I can’t tell you that. I think he is as curious as we are to get out there and see how he feels. We are going to go easy with it. He and I will talk, and he will talk with the doctors and trainers. We are not forcing him back this week, next week... whenever. I don’t care about that. We just want to make sure he’s healthy.”
Still, Reid is clearly happy for Berry to be back on the practice field.
“It’s great. It’s good to see him back healthy,” he said. “One thing I know is that it’s killing him to watch. He loves to play. It tears him up not to be out there. At the same time, we have to do what is smart, and make sure that once those juices get going, everything is okay for the long haul.”
Reid said that while he’s been on the sidelines, Berry has been getting an idea about what it would like to be a coach.
“Yeah, he’s getting a jump start on a second career, he’s done a nice job of jumping in and coaching,” Reid said. “The guys listen to him. He’s smart, obviously, we all know that. He’s been there and done it and the guys respect him for that. He’s been out there every practice. He’s gone to every game. He’s just quietly had nice little coaching points in there.”
Reid said that the newer defensive players — who haven’t yet played alongside Berry — might have to adjust, but that Berry will make it easy for them.
“For a couple of guys who haven’t [played with Berry], that would be an important part,” Reid said. “When he is in there — you’ve seen him — he’s very loud. He and Ron Parker have done that together, and they are not afraid to talk and communicate — and make it loud. He’s not going to be wishy-washy on his calls. You are going to know. If he puts a call on, you’ll know it. I think they’ll be okay that way. He’s seen a lot over the years. I don’t think that’ll be too much of an issue.”
Reid was asked if it was going to be difficult to make Berry understand that he didn’t have to be more of a player than he already is.
“Honestly, I don’t worry about him in any of this,” he said. “He’s been around this a long time. He’s come back [from] injuries. He has come back [from] a life-threatening disease, and he’s honest. One thing that has taken place through this whole thing is great communication and honesty. That’s the least of my worries, really.”
Nonetheless, Reid acknowledged that being under pressure to perform is part of being an NFL player.
“Listen, we are not in a tiddlywink contest. There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with the sport. Whenever you go out there you’ve got a certain amount of pressure, but I don’t think any more [pressure] than he normally does. He’s too far into it. He’s a veteran.”
In his turn before the cameras, Mahomes spoke about Berry’s leadership and work ethic while he has been on the sidelines.
Mahomes said that Berry’s passion for the game is obvious to his teammates — even when he isn’t on the practice or playing field.
“You can just feel it every single day,” he said. “He’s working his tail off and I’m glad that he’ll be back out there with us. He’s going to come in and bring that spirit — that leadership role — [and] just come out there and play his tail off. I’m excited to have him on that defense.”
Mahomes said that Berry is at the team facility constantly.
“He’s up here as much as anyone. He’s up here as much as I am. He’s up here as much as everybody except Coach Reid,” Mahomes said. “He has that mindset. He’s one of the hardest working dudes I’ve ever seen. No matter what’s happened this entire season, I know he wants to be on that field. He’s going to train and keep himself right so that when he gets the opportunity that he’s going to get now, he’s ready to go.”
But Mahomes said that Berry is only one of the players who have leadership roles on the team.
“It’s awesome to have the leaders that we have on this team. Eric, Justin Houston, Travis Kelce... everybody,” said Mahomes. “Everybody works hard, and they set that kind of mentality for the locker room, and all of us young guys know [that] when we come in, we’re coming in to work. There are no days off, there [are] no periods off, there is no play off. When you have the leadership like that with the veteran guys, you can follow suit and follow in line.”
Both Reid and his quarterback spoke about the interceptions Mahomes threw against the Los Angeles Rams.
Reid said the first order of business was to confront the problem.
“Well, you don’t hide it,” Reid explained. “You go back and evaluate it. How did those things happen and then how do you fix them so they don’t happen again? We’ve done that. One thing about Pat: he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. I’m not worried about that. I want him to keep firing. Learn from your mistakes, but keep firing.”
Reid said that he and Mahomes have to share responsibility for the miscues against Los Angeles.
“The quarterback and head coach are going to take full responsibility for all of that. I am calling the plays, I could’ve done a better job putting him there and he had the ball in his hands. We take the responsibility for it, and then we try to fix the problems. Whether it’s with us as individuals or if it was a group effort. We take care of it. That’s how it rolls.”
When he was asked about his pick-six against the Rams, Mahomes was clearly accepting his share of the responsibility.
“You just have to be decisive, said Mahomes. “On that pick, I was kind of looking at Tyreek Hill, and [then] I saw Demetrius Harris open up. Instead of just ripping the ball, I was indecisive with the throw. If you make the throw, no one says anything. But at the same time, with plays like that, when guys make great plays against you, you have to eliminate those when you want to beat good teams.”
But Mahomes also said there was a lot of good to be taken from the loss.
“Every experience — bad or good — you have to learn from. You take the positives. We had a lot of successful plays and successful things happen in that game, but you have to find ways to win them in the end.”
Other notes from the Wednesday press sessions
Reid said that only Sammy Watkins was held out of practice on Wednesday. When asked whether there was a possibility Laurent Duvernay-Tardif could return from injured reserve, Reid said, “Yes, I guess there is. We will just have to see. It’s probably not going to be until later if he’s able to do that. I mean... he’s not ready to do it now. Is there a possibility? Yes. I would probably say there’s a possibility. He’s doing well.”
Reid said that the bye week is always helpful — whenever it falls. “To get a couple of days off I think is good. To step back, slow things down and think about some things. and then go back and scout and go more in depth than we have time to do during the season. To go back and look at things — and players do the same thing — but most importantly to take a step back, get some rest and get ready for the remaining part of the season.”
Mahomes said he spent his bye week working on fundamentals. “When you play a lot of games, sometimes you don’t get to practice the fundamentals of just how you are standing in the pocket — how you are making your platform when you throw,” explained Mahomes. “That is something I feel like I always have to go back to. You always get new experiences — and you can learn from those experiences mentally — but at the same time, you want to make sure you are physically doing all the right stuff to have success.”
Mahomes said he had spoken to former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury since his firing over the weekend and is certain that his former coach will land on his feet. “I haven’t talked to him about where he is thinking about going, or where he is thinking about ending up,” he said. “I know if he did come to the NFL, he has the work ethic and he has the mind, and he has the innovativeness — if that’s even a word — to be in this league. Whatever he does, I know he will have success doing it.”