On Wednesday, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid — along with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire — spoke to reporters as the team prepared for Sunday night’s important Week 11 AFC West matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
As befitting a series that is often described as one of league’s bitterest rivalries, reporters did their level-best to extract quotes from the coach and his players about how much it would mean to notch another win in the teams’ 124th meeting since 1960.
But none of them seemed really interested in talking about it.
“The big thing that we do is focus on week by week,” said Mahomes. “You watch other games; you watch some of these great opponents that we’re playing with these winning records coming up. At the same time, you have to give the respect to the team that you’re playing — and that’s the Las Vegas Raiders. We know that we’re going to need all of our attention there. It’s a great football team.”
Edwards-Helaire talked about it as if the subject hadn’t really come up.
“I wouldn’t say that we exercised the fact that it was a big rivalry; you just know that it’s Raiders Week. Growing up around football, you know that there is a rivalry, but you really can’t put your input on it — or really just get the taste of it — until you actually play the game and actually play against those guys and actually feel the rivalry feeling. And that’s what it is about football: the rivalry isn’t between the players and organizations. You have to kind of be in it to really understand it.”
Mahomes was at least willing to concede that in the minds of the team’s fans, the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry is a big deal.
“To this fanbase and my time here, we take it personal playing them in this game. You want to go out there and win these football games against our divisional opponents.”
But in the quarterback’s eyes, the more important issue was what happened the last time the two teams played.
“We don’t like losing to teams twice,” noted Mahomes, “so we’ll have the right mindset coming out.”
“The intensity is going to be there,” said Edwards-Helaire, “and it’s not just through us, but it’s just through the NFL world. So, just ultimately, we are coming in and coming in to compete — [to] correct the things that we need to correct, and go out and compete and try to win the game.”
This must be music to the ears of Reid, who is well-known to insist on routine during his preparations for upcoming games — which is often given as the reason why Reid’s record is so good in games following a bye week; he’s simply had another week to prepare.
“People say, ‘After a bye week you have a decent record,’ well... I can’t tell you why,” admitted the head coach on Wednesday. “We try to prepare for the team that we’re playing after a bye. This is a good football team that we’re preparing for — and we’ve got to go through the same process as if there wasn’t a bye. You’ve got to go through and make sure you study and get to know them — and make sure you can correlate the scheme that you have with what their scheme is — and work it.”
From Reid’s perspective, the team’s loss to the Raiders in Week 5 isn’t a reason to seek revenge — or even something to add to a long list of incidents between the two teams that fans see as additional bad blood. Instead, it’s just another data point in his constant search for ways to make his team better.
“I’m a big believer that you dig in on both wins and losses — and you figure it out,” said Reid. “Wins, because you won it doesn’t mean everything’s pretty, so you go in and you try to learn from both. Obviously with a loss you can see how people handle a loss — and kind of what they’re made of. But you see the same thing when they win in a different way.”
In Reid’s mind, that adds up to a consistent routine that he not only preaches to his team, but also hopes that they observe for themselves — and then emulate.
“You want to just be consistent — and I try to do that by example,” he explained. “I try to be as diligent as I can with admitting the problems when we win, admitting the problems if we don’t — and then saying the good things if we win or lose.”
For fans who grew up on a steady diet of Raider-Hating, that may be unsatisfying. Former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer — perhaps the biggest (and certainly the most vocal) Raider-Hater of all time — was 17-3 (0.850) against the black-clad wanderers. In contrast, Reid is just 12-3 (.800). But the Raiders aside, Reid has achieved something in Kansas City that Schottenheimer never could: a .500 record in the playoffs and a Super Bowl championship.