On Monday, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stepped up to the podium for his usual day-after-the-game press conference following Sunday’s 37-23 defeat of the Cleveland Browns, and had quite a lot to say.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
Reid said that while they recognized the Browns were in a unique situation, the Chiefs approached the game as they usually do.
“It was really a nothing-to-lose situation,” he said. “We just anticipated that anything and everything was possible. [But] we’ve tried to stay in tune with that against everybody as the season’s gone on. Maybe not necessarily the two-point plays — although we always practice that —- but some of those things on special teams like the fake punts and the onside kicks. Dave [Toub] has worked very hard on that.”
Reid was also asked if the Chiefs’ ability to hold on all three of the Browns’ two-point conversions affected the momentum of the game. True to his usual form, Reid eventually got around to a food reference.
“If you talk to the stat guys, they’ll tell you that there’s no such thing as momentum; that’s not part of the equation,” Reid said. “But I think there’s a little bit of that. When you’ve driven down, taken whatever time was needed to score a touchdown, and you don’t get the icing on the cake, that can be a little bit of a letdown.”
Reid was asked about the upcoming home game against the Arizona Cardinals — another team with a poor record.
“We know they’re coming off a ten-day rest -- longer than that, it’s a bye week -- and we know that they’ll be fresh,” he said. “And they’re coming off a win. That’s also a positive for them. We also know that they’ve got some young players that are tremendous on the defensive side. They also have some veteran players that are playing out of their minds right now. We just have to make sure that we get ourselves ready to play.”
For Reid, that includes figuring out a way to reduce the number of penalties being called against the Chiefs. On Sunday, the Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 86 yards.
“We have way too many. I mean, we took half a game away from ourselves. If you have almost 500 yards of offense and take 90 yards away from that, that’s going the wrong direction. You have to go in there and keep disciplining yourself — whether it’s tight hands, whatever it might be.”
As someone who spent years questioning former Chiefs head coach Marty Shottenheimer — whom reporters would often deliberately ask about penalties in a just-concluded game, knowing that Shottenheimer would scowl and say something like, “That is going to stop!” — I’m often amused by the contrast in Reid’s approach to this subject.
”Some of these things I look at, they’re close calls,” said Reid. “I try to look at the things where you can coach the guys up on — to try and make them better, so it doesn’t happen again. But some of them are jump balls.
“If they’re going to block, you want to make sure that their hands are tight. They’re going to be OK normally,” Reid continued. “But it’s a subjective decision. That’s what’s great about it. We have officials. It’s not run by a machine or computer. This is what they see. So you have to look at the tape, but you also have to look at it from their angle. Sometimes you don’t get that from tape.”
Reid was asked about Browns players who had told reporters preparing for the Chiefs offense was nothing like actually playing against it.
“That’s a nice compliment from the team,” Reid responded. “I don’t know exactly what they’re looking at. We try to give them enough looks, and then we’ve got guys that can move around -- they can make little subtle adjustments -- and right now, the receivers and the the tight end have a good connection with Patrick [Mahomes]. And then [Kareem Hunt] is running very aggressively and hard. And he can also catch.”
But it might be more than that. In response to another question, Reid said the players are doing a great job of being ready from the opening snap.
“Our guys are coming out, and they’re ready to go,” he said. “They’re executing. [They’re] making plays when they’ve needed to make plays. You have to give credit to them for that — for being ready to go — and not easing into the situation.
“We’re not coming out there and going, ‘Oh, OK, let’s see what they’re doing,’” he continued. “We come out and do what we do. They’re doing that. That’s how they’ve prepared themselves. It’s a tribute to the guys, and how they go about it. Eric Bieniemy stresses that like crazy. We have a meeting — I wish you all could be in there for it — on Saturday night, and when he cuts it loose, you might fear not coming out ready.”
Reid was asked about the progress the team’s top three draft picks — Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi and Dorian O’Daniel — are making.
On Sunday, the rookie trio combined for 129 defensive snaps — the most they’ve had together all season.
“They’re getting better,” Reid responded. “Brett [Veach] spends a lot of time with his crew finding these guys, then working it out where we can get them here — and then they’ve got good coaches, and they’re good players. They want to be good. They enjoy the game. [Speaks, Nnadi and O’Daniel] love playing the game, and they’re smart kids. It’s easy to coach [players with that] combination. But it takes a lot of effort to find those kinds of guys, and get them here.”
Other notes from Monday’s press conference:
During Sunday afternoon’s postgame press conference, Reid said that Sammy Watkins had “an ankle,” but was “going to be all right.” Watkins left Sunday’s game with what appeared to be an ankle injury, but later returned to the lineup. Even being out for a time, Watkins was on the field for 43 of 58 Chiefs offensive snaps. Reid had no additional injury information on Monday.
On Sunday, Reid had praised Tyreek Hill and Anthony Hitchens — both of whom had been nursing injuries during the week — for “playing through” the game. Hill was on the field for all by two offensive snaps, and Hitchens was on the field for 51 of 73 defensive snaps. “He’s in a unique position as that middle linebacker,” Reid said of Hitchens. “All eyes are on you. You’re the transmitter between the back end and the front end. Guys rely on you. He’s in there now full time, and he feels that — he feels the responsibility there. It’s also important that we’re not putting him in a bind, because he wants to play. He always wants to play. We’ve had to spot him at times during the year, because he’s out there for a lot of snaps.”
Reid said that Chiefs fans “travel well,” and the team appreciates their presence at road games. The head coach said there were many Chiefs fans at the hotel in Cleveland when they came out — and that at the stadiums, it’s always easy to tell how many Chiefs fans are in attendance. “You always know — right around the National Anthem — how many people are pulling for you on the road,“ Reid said.