Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and some Chiefs players spoke to the media following the team’s 40-33 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and Reid spoke to the media again on Monday. Here are some of the key takeaways from what they said:
There were — as you might expect — a lot of questions about the running game on Sunday, with Spencer Ware’s emergence as the starting running back after Kareem Hunt’s release on Friday afternoon.
“We came out with over 100 yards rushing,” Reid said on Sunday. “We kind of did it ‘by committee’ with the quarterback involved — and some of the coverages [Oakland was] playing allowed us to do that with the quarterback. [That] ends up being important when you talk about the overall run game down the road.”
On Monday, Reid said that many of Mahomes’ runs were RPO plays where the quarterback is expected to run or pass depending on what the defense shows — and said that he isn’t worried about Mahomes taking hits when he’s running the ball.
“He’s not taking big hits on those — he’s getting down and getting out of bounds, which is important.” Reid said. “I’m not too worried about that. There are going to be games when you’ve got to do that — that’s what’s available, and you have to take advantage of [it]. But I have confidence in our running backs that they can play.”
On Sunday, Reid said he was pleased to see Ware play.
“It was great to get Spencer back in there and working on more of a full-time basis — as opposed to being a relief pitcher or a third-down player,” he said. “Then Damien Williams, he steps in and he had a couple nice runs too, so it was good for him.”
Reid said that the Chiefs will continue to move Ware and Williams on and off the field.
“I’m sure we’ll continue to rotate [Ware],” he said Sunday. “I’ll go back and look at it. I mean that’s what we were doing today, trying to keep everybody fresh and going.”
His teammate Travis Kelce spoke glowingly of Ware after the game.
“Oh man,” Kelce said. “We have all the confidence in the world [in him]. He’s been doing it for a while now. And he’s been a staple for this organization since he’s been here. He’s worked his tail off to be in the position that he is in. And he got back from an injury last year that set him back. He wasn’t allowed to be a part of what we were doing last year. Just to see him back out there having success, bringing the energy every single run that he has because he’s a vicious runner. I love him.”
Reid was asked on Monday if some of Mahomes’ throws against Oakland had been off.
“You come off a bye like that, and sometimes you have that in the passing game — timing is off a bit. In his case, though, you keep firing — and that’s what he did. You have to have a short memory on those things. if you get cautious — if you end up second-guessing yourself — you’re going to end up with turnovers. He was able to keep it going, and at the end, he made some pretty significant plays for us.”
One of those plays was the 25-yard pass to Kelce with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter, which put the Chiefs in a position to score their final touchdown. Mahomes was asked about that play after the game.
“Their defense had put a lot of guys in coverage, so they had sort of taken my read away,” Mahomes explained. “I had scrambled out, and the guy almost got me. He kind of baited me like he was going to come up, and then he faded back. I got in between running and throwing. and I threw it up there. Kelce made plays all day long if I gave him chances. He made a great play on it.”
Reid also spoke specifically about that play.
“Yeah, so you look at that last touchdown, and you saw how excited he was. And that’s how he comes to work every day — you know that. So he’s all-in all the time. He makes plays, and makes everyone around him better. Those are important qualities as a quarterback. If you want to be great, then you’ve got to have some of those qualities.”
Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley said that Mahomes was able to be successful even though the Raiders had thrown unexpected looks at the Chiefs offense.
“They played some stuff today that they haven’t really played this season, but they were ready to play [those against] us, really taking away some of his options downfield — making him wait, [and] making him take some throws in the zones underneath. He was able to adjust to that. He was able to use his legs and extend some of those plays, and ultimately extend drives.”
Mahomes acknowledged that the Raiders had prepared well for the Chiefs.
“Oakland had a great game plan for us, which made it difficult for us — especially at the beginning of the game. We found ways to adjust and score some points.”
Other notes from the Chiefs after the Raiders game:
Travis Kelce said it was a big win against Oakland: “You see growth in this win. A lot of leadership — a lot of guys stepped up. Last year, we wouldn’t have won this game. Flat out, we lost in on the last play. The offense stepped up; the defense did their thing. Some of them are knocked down and hanging their heads a little bit, but you can’t take wins for granted in this league.”
But Chris Conley called wins like the victory against Oakland sobering: “They allow us to go back to the drawing board, and realize that there are still areas to improve. There’s a lot of tape for us to go over today. Obviously we came out with the win, but there’s a lot of things that didn’t go the way that we wanted them to go — a lot of plays we didn’t execute. We have to finish stronger.”
Reid spoke on Monday about wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, who played in his first regular-season game against the Raiders: “It was neat to see. He’s got a great relationship with our quarterback — they actually have the same haircut. He came so close in that game to having a touchdown [reception] it was crazy. But it was neat to see him out there. He played a little special teams, got in the [wide receiver] rotation and got in the game.”
Reid also talked about the Wildcat play on which Ware scored a touchdown: “Yeah, so Spencer was a high school quarterback and ran the option, so we’ve done that before. [I’ve] got to give credit to Coach Andy Heck. He called that one, and the guys executed. [Heck] designed it and called it — and it was a perfect time.”