Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid took questions Wednesday, the first official practice day of what will be the 17-week grind of the NFL season. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have had to alter their practice schedule this week because of Hurricane Dorian, await the Chiefs on Sunday.
“You love the opportunity to coach in the National Football League first—it’s an honor,” said Reid, when asked how the beginning of this year compares to last. “The first game is one of many, but there is always that excitement that it’s the first game. You’re coming off of training camp and the OTAs and all of those things, so yeah, you’re excited to get it going.”
The Jaguars boast some faces Reid will find familiar. Reid recruited their quarterback, Nick Foles, back to football in 2016, and Foles served the Chiefs as a backup to Alex Smith before eventually leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl championship in 2017. Foles nearly retired before Reid’s convincing.
“I’m glad he is playing,” Reid said of Foles. “He’s great for the National Football League. He is a unique guy. He’s a great person and does a lot of things off of the field. He is a great family guy. On top of that, his play on the field is also good. He has handled all of that fame that he has in Philadelphia with the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He has handled all of that well. It has not changed him. Now, this is the reward here, that he has another opportunity to be the game-one starter for a team.”
In February of this past year, Foles voided his contract with the Eagles, becoming an unrestricted free agent. That freedom allowed him to sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars.
“I can’t tell you that I’m pulling for him—I’m not pulling for him there,” Reid said to the laughter of the media, “but it is a nice story up to this point.”
Reid and the Chiefs should also be very familiar with wide receiver Chris Conley, who signed with the Jaguars shortly after Foles.
“I just see what culture’s being built here, the addition of Nick Foles,” Conley told Jaguars.com at the time. “Nick Foles has been a friend of mine for a long time. We actually talked about this day three years ago when he was in Kansas City. I said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be a starting quarterback one day and when you are, let’s make it happen. Let’s make this run.’”
The Chiefs originally drafted Conley in the third round back in 2015. In his lone start with the Chiefs while Smith was injured, Foles targeted Conley five times, connecting for three receptions and 59 yards. Foles finished 16 for 22 for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 30-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
“There is opportunity [in Jacksonville] to begin with,” Conley added, “but then with the addition of [Foles] at quarterback, that sealed the deal for me.”
Reid said the Chiefs thought about bringing Conley back when his contract ran out this offseason, but it just did not come to pass.
“We talked about that,” Reid said. “We think he is one heck of a football player. There is a lot that goes into that and Brett (Veach) has to manage all of that. He’s a great person and a good football player, so there was nothing there that we didn’t like. He’s doing a nice job.”
Chiefs starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes said that he and Conley have stayed in touch since Conley moved to Jacksonville.
“I still talk to Chris,” Mahomes said. “Chris is a good friend of mine and his wife and my girlfriend are good friends. So, I’m able to keep up with him. I know he’s working hard and excited for the season as well. It’ll be cool to play against him in the first week.”
Tight end James O’Shaughnessy and linebacker DJ Alexander will also be players to recognize. Like Conley, both were drafted by the Chiefs during the 2015 NFL Draft. Alexander made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer in 2016.
And then there is Chase Litton, who was with the Chiefs through cuts last week. Litton did not make the team, and the Jaguars signed him to their initial practice squad. Reid did not seem all that worried about the possible sharing of trade secrets.
“He is a smart guy, so I’m sure they have quizzed him on it, but you have 300 plays to choose from,” Reid said. “If they can predict those, they are really good. That is kind of where we are at.”
The media laughed again.
“I’m super happy for Chase,” Mahomes added. “He is someone that worked super hard while he was here, and he got to go down there and try out and he made the team. He is someone that is going to work hard and keep doing whatever he can to make his name in this league. So I’m excited for him and his opportunities there.”
Worth noting from Wednesday
- Reid said that linebacker Darron Lee may not necessarily be a starter, but he will be in the mix for the Chiefs: ”I thought he had a good preseason. He was a good player for the Jets. He has picked this defense up well. He’ll play. I can’t tell you if he is starting or not starting, but he’ll play.”
- Reid confirmed that cornerback Tremon Smith has what it takes to be a two-way player: “He is familiar enough with both sides of the ball that he could do that if needed.”
- Mahomes commented on the Jaguars planning to make cornerback Jalen Ramsey follow around Tyreek Hill: “Jalen’s a great player, someone that usually follows around the best receiver every single week, so he’s used to being in that position. For us, we are going to run the offense the way that we always run it. We are going to try to do what we can to find ways to exploit their defense, in general, and find ways to have success. He is someone that is going to be a good matchup for any receiver that he goes against, but I’m excited to get out there, run the offense and try to find ways to put the ball in the end zone, of course.”
- A great quote from tight end Travis Kelce, who does not seem like he cares who guards him: “Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve felt like, if a team’s going to run man-to-man coverage, you just have to have the confidence that nobody can stop you consistently. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, who it is in front of you, you just have to have that mentality, so in my mind frame, it doesn’t matter who they put in front of you. If they’re running man-to-man coverage, I feel like I can get open at least more than being stopped. And that’s just the mentality that I’ve had since I’ve been in the league, so I really don’t try and worry about who’s going in front of me—just having an understanding of how everybody plays and go about it that way.”
- Mitch Schwartz made the media a barbecue lunch on Monday. Reid: “He takes a lot of pride in his cooking. He does that well. He puts a lot of time and effort into learning that. You guys enjoy that, though.”
Thank you @MitchSchwartz71 for this incredible spread! It's not very often you see acts of kindness like this especially towards media members but now I can officially confirm....his BBQ is stellar! pic.twitter.com/KqrR3lwZFA— Dani Welniak (@KCTVDani) September 4, 2019
If you’re wondering, it was indeed delicious.