OK, let’s be fair.
Safety Ron Parker and cornerback Orlando Scandrick are not All-Pros. Neither player has played well enough this year to merit unquestioned playing time, so it should not have been a complete shock to anyone that both players were benched for Sunday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks.
Secondary snap count
Daniel Sorensen - 80 (100 percent)
Steve Nelson - 80 (100 percent)
Charvarius Ward - 79 (99 percent)
Eric Berry - 69 (86 percent)
Tremon Smith - 55 (69 percent)
Jordan Lucas - 12 (15 percent)
Eric Murray - 1 (1 percent)
Where the benching of Parker and Scandrick became interesting was Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s explanation of the move after the game:
Andy Reid said of playing young corners: "It was a decision on my part, it was a changeup. Give 'em an opportunity. They've got good speed. I thought it would be worth a shot."— SANTA TOM (@TomKCTV5) December 24, 2018
“There were some good things, there were some things we could learn from,” Reid said. “I played some young guys tonight that I wanted to just get a look at, that I thought could help us a bit. They had some learning experiences but they battled through it. There were some good things in the mix of it. We have to learn from that and get better. Those are young guys that are in those positions doing that. There are some things they can take out of this to make them better down the road. They were in position, you just have to make the play, so that’s the bottom line, and we we’ve got to do better at that.”
Charvarius Ward knew all week that he would be starting in the game, per Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star. That leads me to believe that so did Tremon Smith.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was actually asked if Smith was ready to see more snaps leading up to the game, and Sutton said, “He’s got to be.”
Ward finished with eight tackles and one pass defensed and Smith had one pass defensed.
I don’t think anyone should wake up Monday morning and be upset the Chiefs have decided to try some new things on defense, but what is inarguable is that the timing is unprecedented. Getting a look at young guys sounds like something you would say in the preseason as you prepare for the regular season—certainly not when you have an opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Playing devil’s advocate, maybe the thought process was this: Since Kendall Fuller couldn’t go (hand surgery), Steve Nelson would be the No. 1 cornerback. With that in mind, the team couldn’t have Russel Wilson, who has excellent weapons in Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, picking on Parker and Scandrick all night. Maybe the Chiefs thought their best option was to go with Eric Berry on an increased snap count and two young cornerbacks who they like and have no recent tape.
Reid will never air his in-house grievances in public, but this felt like an explanation that needed to be completely transparent.
The decision isn’t that hard to figure out, but the timing couldn’t have been more strange.