NFL coaches (and some players, too) often say that they don’t pay much attention to what fans (or the media) say about their teams. But listening to Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speak to reporters on Wednesday after the team’s 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, it appeared that he’s aware of many of the criticisms that are now being leveled at his team.
“I’ve mentioned this before: we look at it every week,” he said with regard to making changes to the team’s depth chart. “I mean, these guys are evaluated every day. So we know the good [and] we know the bad, right?
“So there’s got to be a trust there that we’re trying to do the right things — but I know there are always questions. We do look at it thoroughly; that’s the best I can tell you.”
Reid’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes denied another recent talking point — that the offense is feeling a special sense of urgency because of the team’s defensive struggles.
“I mean, for us, we try to score every single time we touch the football,” insisted the former NFL MVP during his turn with the press on Wednesday. “That’s how it’s been my entire career. That was the precedent that was set before I even started here — and that’s kind of how I have my mindset going into every single game: that when we get an opportunity to go out there and have success — and be successful — we have to capitalize on that.
“It has nothing to do with whatever is happening on the other side of the ball. It’s just our job as [the] offense on this team.”
And from Reid’s perspective, the offense is doing its job very well — except for one thing.
“I keep going back to the turnover part,” he told reporters. “You know, the turnovers are something that we’ve got to take care of. I mean, we’re doing a phenomenal job per series of scoring — one of the best in the history of the game — but if you turn the ball over, you’ve got a problem.”
Reid had his facts straight. The Chiefs’ offense is currently leading the league with 3.22 points per drive. Just to give that number some context, it was 2.21 during Alex Smith’s final ‘f-ck it’ season in 2021 — and 3.12 in the following season, when Mahomes won MVP honors after laying waste to almost every defense he faced. The problem is that Kansas City also has the league’s highest rate of offensive drives ended by turnovers: 21.7%. In 2017, the team had the lowest rate — 6.3% — and in 2018, it ranked 12th with 10.5%.
“We’re moving the ball down the field at a high rate,” noted Mahomes. “We’re doing enough. We’re executing. We’re not having a lot of three-and-outs and stuff like that. So that’s what you want to do as an offense. But once you’ve had turnovers happen, it kind of ruins everything; it takes that great offense that we can be and knocks it down to a very average one.”
“That’s the reality of it,” added Reid. “You can put all the yards together you want; you can put almost 90 plays together. You do all that stuff — but if you turn the ball over, it’s an issue.
“We’ve done that in — really — three games: two where we’ve had four, and one with the two. And those were the games we lost. I mean, that part becomes very obvious. In all of those games, we had production; there were a lot of good things. But we’ve just got to put [turnovers] to an end — get those taken care of. And everybody’s got a piece of pie.”
Speaking of his own piece, Mahomes sounded a bit like he had just come out of the film room.
“First off, you have to look at the coverages that you’re facing — seeing the coverages and being able to recognize those things,” he said. “Once you do that, you can slow things down. Then you’re able to go out there and make the right decision and not take those chances — especially at certain points of the game. Just doing that — and then going back to my reads and trying to be true to those, making sure my footwork’s right in the pocket.”
And according to Reid, that starts with the offensive line.
“You’ve got to take care of that front,” he emphasized. “That’s where it starts. They’re a productive group; [they’re] talented and play hard. So it’s a great challenge for us.”
Mahomes was inclined to agree with his mentor.
“I mean, they’re doing a great job,” he said. “They’re really communicating well. They’re doing a lot of great things. Obviously, this last game, we kind of got out of running the ball as we kind of had a few turnovers here and there. So we’ve got to keep incorporating that. They’re so good at run blocking — they’re so good at doing those things — I think if we do that with the guys that we have, it’ll open up the passing game even more.”
But the quarterback also wanted to stress that the team should avoid making too many changes — that it was vital for him (and his teammates) to remain true to themselves.
“You just tinker with things here and there,” said Mahomes. “I mean, you don’t want to lose yourself — you don’t want to lose the things that you’ve done so well [for] so long — but at the same time, I’ve got to make sure that I’m firm with my fundamentals [and] make sure that I stay within the pocket.
“[It’s] the same thing every year — when you see me get a little off — [then I’ve] got to go back to the basics and make sure I perfect those things. Then I think everything else will kind of come along with it.“