Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid met with the media on Friday for what would normally be considered the first press conference of the regular season — one filled with questions about the upcoming opponent. This year, that is the Houston Texans, with the Chiefs set to welcome them to Arrowhead Stadium six days from this writing on Thursday Night Football.
But the very unique offseason has brought with it more unique circumstances, and before any talk about the Texans can take place, the Chiefs need to cut their roster down from 80 to 53 by 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Saturday.
“We tell them at the beginning not everybody is going to make our football team but make it as hard as you possibly can on us to make that decision and don’t count the numbers in the line — just go play,” described Reid, recounting the initial days of training camp. “Whether it’s special teams or offense or defense, do your best and then you don’t have to look back on that. Then, also stay in tune with your strengths and your weaknesses and if you do get released, you have an opportunity to work on the weaknesses in case they get another shot.
“I also normally tell them that everybody is going to have an opportunity to play in the (preseason) games. Well, they haven’t had that. One reason coaches like having the preseason games is so that the young guys can show, and potentially if you can’t keep them on your team, at least they have a chance to go make a living doing this thing with another team.”
Without preseason games, evaluating the roster has been made all the more difficult. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and his team will use practice film to evaluate their own roster while referring to old reports and tape to consider last-minute trades and waiver grabs.
Over the last few weeks, the coaches have tried to make practices as close to game-like as they could.
‘We’ve done everything we possibly can to keep practices as fast as we can, but there’s nothing like a game,” said Reid. “You get a little bit of that in the preseason. It’s still not as fast as the regular season, but at least you’re able to go through those things and knock the wrinkles out. Whether it’s the play-calling or the game-day procedure or actually playing in the game as a player, you’re kind of able to knock things out and smooth the wrinkles. So, we haven’t had that. I still think it’s going to be a good product. I think with two good teams playing like this that have experience in their programs with their coaching staff that it’s still going to be a heck of a football game.”
The Chiefs played the Texans twice last season — first in the regular season and then in the Divisional round — but the new year brings new versions of the teams. Even if there had been a preseason, it is not like teams show much when it comes to scheme and strategy.
Much is still a mystery when Week 1 rolls around.
“You’re never quite sure what the other team’s going to do; they’re not sure exactly what we’re going to do,” said Reid. “I mean, that’s just even with the preseason games, you know the first game is – really the first three games – you’re kind of up in the air and not sure exactly what you’re going to get presented. But that’s the way it works every year. Now, I’m curious to see how the teams play. You know I think it’s going to be, like I said, I think it’s going to be a well-played game, but I’ll be curious to see how it all goes.”
Reid noted he might be even more eager to see his team debut this season than any season previously.
“You normally have a little bit of a lead up and you have a good idea of the guys are going to react under the lights or on game day – in our case under the lights,” said Reid. “But we haven’t had that and so yeah, I’m curious to see how everything works out and how the team gels together and every year is a little different and you’ve got to work through all that.”