Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid met with the news media on Monday following his team’s 37-31 overtime loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday evening.
As Reid spoke with the media, players were busy cleaning out their lockers and going through end-of-season physicals — a normal part of the end-of-season process.
“I’ll have a chance to talk to the team, that’s really what today is all about,” Reid said. “Then obviously, we will go back and look at the rest of it. Everything is a little too fresh right this minute. I do appreciate the fans and all the support they gave us this year, they were phenomenal.
“Obviously, our goal was to bring a Super Bowl here, and we didn’t get that done,” Reid continued in his opening statement. “It didn’t happen, but we will go back to work and strive to do that for this city. I appreciate the effort the players and coaches gave this year to the organization. Again, we will go back and evaluate everything once things settle down a little bit.”
In their questions, the press wanted to get right down to business: Bob Sutton. Reid gave the same answer he has given after previous seasons after there were calls for Sutton’s firing.
“What I do, I go back,” he said. “I never talk about that here. I’ve never done that. It’s something I go back and look at everything. That’s the best answer I can give you for that.”
That didn’t satisfy the press. A reporter suggested that since Mahomes had been so prolific, the Chiefs being out of the postseason might be a sign that the Chiefs are vulnerable somewhere else.
“Listen, I will go back and look at it,” Reid replied. “We are sitting here, this is the championship game and we lost to the Super Bowl team in overtime. I know that’s real. We have to get better in a lot of areas. We have to get better. I got it.
“You can about count on one hand the number of points that you lost all of your games with,” he continued. “This is part of the problem here, when you lose you have to face all of this. I get it, but there’s a time and a place to look at everything. A little bit more of a rational position than less than 24 hours after a game — a final game.”
Another reporter asked what needs to change “on the defensive side of the ball” in 2019.
“Listen, all of those things, players and all of that, I’ll look at everything. I’ll take a peek at all of it.”
A reporter said there are times when a coach “loses his voice” or “gets stale” and wanted to know if Reid thought that had occurred with Sutton in 2018.
“I didn’t feel that,” Reid responded.
Another member of the press said that before the season, Brett Veach had spoken about an emphasis of getting tougher on defense and wanted to know if it was “tough to swallow” that the Patriots had run the ball so much in the final game of the season.
“We wanted to do better there,” replied Reid. “I would tell you that they are probably saying the same thing, and they are going to the Super Bowl. When it comes down to the last drive, you magnify where it is, but this was the championship game. It was in overtime. When you really cut to the chase of it here, the few games we lost, we lost by minimal points, so we were obviously doing something right.”
Reid was asked if he had evaluated himself.
“I’ll evaluate myself,” he said. “I do that daily. I’ll continue to do that.”
And then the obvious follow-up question: would he be the coach in 2019?
“I’m the coach right now, unless Clark Hunt tells me different,” replied Reid.
Then the press wanted to know what the next step for Chiefs defensive players would be for 2019.
“I’ll go back and look at all that, said Reid. “During the season, I thought our young guys did some nice things. I thought the addition in our secondary of a couple of things tightened things up and we played better. I thought [that] as Derrick Nnadi continued to grow, he had a tremendous season. Those are things that there were some good additions in there.
“We will continue to grow there with the young guys. We will continue to get better. That is a positive. We [led] the National Football League in sacks, hurries on the quarterback, all those things. We will tighten it up on the back end a little bit — we got better there.”
A frustrated Andy Reid: "Don't understand. Just listen." pic.twitter.com/dj3qUKVD5f— TOM MARTIN (@TomKCTV5) January 21, 2019
“[It’s] not an easy thing to do,” Reid continued. “It’s not easy to be in the championship game. Remember that. As you ask all these questions, remember that. This isn’t an easy thing.
“There’s a lot of credit that goes out to these guys that busted their tail to put this organization and this city to have an opportunity like that. That is a special thing. We will work on taking care of the rest. But don’t downplay that there were only four teams playing yesterday and you were one of them.”
Reid was asked how difficult it was to watch the Patriots open the game with a long drive, when the Chiefs’ usual pattern in 2018 was to open the game with a quick score.
“Normally it doesn’t matter what the other team does, Reid said. “Normally we get out and sustain drives. We were the best team in football at scoring on the first drive. We didn’t get that done. I will take responsibility for it. As long as they kept the ball, we could’ve kept the ball. It’s no different. We were able to bounce ourselves back and put ourselves in position where [we were] able to take care of things.”
A reporter wanted to know if the Patriots’ playoff experience played into the result of the game.
“I thought a little bit early,” Reid replied. “I felt like when we rebounded we put ourselves in a position to win the game. It really came down to inches there as it does when two good teams play each other, and we were short by inches with an interception with the ball in our hand. Game over. That is the part that hurts there. You have opportunities to take care of business. You want to do it. Can we learn from it? Yeah, that’s what we are going to do. That’s what you do right now, then you get yourself ready for the next haul next year.”
The press wanted to know what kind of expectations Reid had held for Patrick Mahomes going into the season.
“We thought Patrick was obviously worth going up and getting [in the draft]. We did that,” Reid said. “I liked what I saw at the Denver game [last season], I liked what I saw during training camp. During the Denver game, I wasn’t sure that was the direction we were going with Alex Smith, but I thought Patrick did do a nice job in that game with room to grow. I saw him continue to grow during training camp.
“Every week since then I thought he continued to better his game, which is a great foundation for him. His work ethic and his love for the game, his leadership, all of those things I thought continued to grow. That’ll drive him. and it gives us a great opportunity to be a productive football team.”
It had been reported that following the game on Sunday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady came to the Chiefs locker room and asked if he could come in and speak to Mahomes. Reid was asked about it.
“I thought that was phenomenal,” Reid said of the gesture. “Tremendous amount of respect. I don’t think Tom Brady does that with everybody. For him to come in and talk to Patrick... I thought [it] was special. It was a very nice gesture by him.”
Reid was asked what the AFC Championship loss would mean to Patrick Mahomes going forward.
“I think it is a great learning experience,” replied Reid. “I mentioned that during the season. I thought every game was a learning experience for him, something where he could get something out of the game and get better as a player. He still has room to grow. He knows that, and he will work hard this offseason to do that. What a great start he had, and [a] nice foundation he [has] built. He got to see the magnitude of a game like this and how it’s a little bit faster than the game before. That’s the way it continues up through the Super Bowl.”
Reid was asked for specifics about what Mahomes had learned against the Patriots.
“Last night, they started off blitzing,“ Reid said. “They came out blitzing every down. I think he did a great job of adjusting a few little things in his game, and the rest of the guys did. I did part of the play calling, which is important. It gave us a chance there to straighten some things out and win some one-on-one battles. It takes a certain look to make sure you can handle that.”
Apparently not yet tired of the Bob Sutton angle, a reporter asked if Reid felt like “it’s your job in the bigger picture” to win a Super Bowl with Mahomes at quarterback.
“You’ve known me a long time,” answered Reid. “I am always going to do what I think is right for the team to try to make it the best possible team we can. We were this close — on an offsides — of being in Atlanta. I am going to work like crazy on my end to make sure it’s right — doing what I think is right for the Chiefs.”