After the 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Moore was honest: he admitted he felt “a little nervous” to begin the game, and that could be seen in his numbers between the first and second quarters.
In the first quarter, Moore was 4 of 7 for only 22 yards; in the second, he was 11 of 16 for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
With last week being his first start since 2017, one he viewed at as a major opportunity, his nerves are more than understandable. But Moore said this Sunday, he hopes to get in a rhythm faster — in what looks to be another spot start against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think part of it for me is mindset,” said Moore. “Maybe not overthinking things early on. Just playing what you see and playing what they’re giving you and taking what they’re giving you. Things like that. I don’t know if there’s a true answer to that question but how you get comfortable quickly, I have to do that.”
One area in which Moore can take comfort is the fact that he has one of the best play-callers in the game in Chiefs head coach Andy Reid behind him. Reid chose Moore to start last week with Patrick Mahomes continuing to recover from a dislocated kneecap.
“I appreciate how he handled his business last week,” Reid said of Moore. “I don’t know him as well as maybe the other guys, but I liked what I saw. He goes about it the right way. The players around him have confidence, which ends up being very important.”
Knowing his Chiefs would be without the reigning NFL MVP last week, Reid put Moore in a position to succeed. The game plan was designed so Moore could get the ball out of his hands quickly — 2.53 seconds per play to be exact, according to the NFL’s NextGen stats.
On Moore’s wide open touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce, Kelce was so open because of Reid’s crafty play design that confused the Packers defense.
“This is not to sound arrogant or not to sound too overconfident — we got a heck of a coaching staff,” said Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Thursday. “We got great teachers, we got great communicators. On top of that, we believe that we have great players, so yes, there is a thing that we believe in the next man is up. It’s our responsibility to make sure we mentally get him prepared and physically get him ready — then when it’s all said and done with, they go out and display their talent and gifts on Sunday.”
Asked exactly how to make the 35-year-old Moore more comfortable prior to the game, Bieniemy mentioned enhanced communication this week.
“You sit and you discuss,” said Bieniemy. “You talk with him throughout the course of the week. You get a feel for what they like, what they may feel comfortable with. I think more than anything with Matt, it was probably just nerves. Just, ‘You know what? This is my fist time starting in a number of years. Let me get this dust off my shoulders, go out here and just play.’
“And I thought he did a great job of just shaking the rust off, getting out there, managing the game, processing the information, leading our guys and finding a way to try and be productive in the right, constructive way.”
The Chiefs are relying on Moore to get more involved in the game planning as well.
“We encourage our guys to talk in meetings,” added Bieniemy. “We encourage our guys to spend time after we’re done meeting with them, so we’re encouraging. That culture has been established. These guys spend a lot of time together — not just in the building, but also outside the building. We want these guys getting to know each other, but on top of that, hey. We’re sitting in those meetings, it’s just not us running the meeting.
“We want our players to be very active, involved. Just like on a particular play, Matt might tell Tyreek, ‘Hey, I was thinking this versus this particular coverage,’ or [Travis Kelce] might say, ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking — they’re going to play this particular coverage.’
“So we encourage the talking — because now they’re getting feedback for one another. Now they can actually go out there and execute exactly what was discussed.”
Bieniemy and the Chiefs see the task at hand — a Vikings team that has won four games in a row — but they also believe they have the personnel to steal a win on Sunday.
“We expect our great players to be great when needed to be,” Bieniemy said.