Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid concluded the team’s offseason programs with a Zoom press conference on Thursday. The next time the head coach is expected to speak to local media members will be when training camp begins in late July.
Among many other things that made this offseason unique was the struggle between the league and players association (NFLPA) regarding voluntary in-person workouts. Based upon the success of last year’s regular season after a completely virtual offseason, many players chose to stay away from offseason workouts completely (that included a good chunk of the Cleveland Browns, the Chiefs’ Week 1 opponent).
But the Chiefs had good attendance throughout the voluntary phases and then the three-day mandatory minicamp.
“I told the players this — that first of all, I appreciated their attendance during this time,” said Reid. “We have a lot of new faces, so it gave us a great introduction to the offense, defense and special teams, which I thought was huge for us. Then, we’ll go ahead and fine-tune everything once we get up to training camp. But again, I thought it went well. I liked the attitude of the guys. They came in ready to work, and that’s what they did. They finished up here with a little conditioning drill, and they did great on that, so they’ve got a good mindset. As coaches, we appreciate that.”
Two second-year Chiefs players — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and linebacker Willie Gay Jr. — both expressed the difficulty of learning a brand new offense and defense, respectively, via Zoom last offseason. That was a rather tricky task, one amplified by the fact that there were no preseason games.
Reid described how this year was a much better situation for which the players to learn.
“On these Zoom calls, as you know, you can install,” explained Reid. “You can do all that. You can talk about fundamentals and techniques, but you can’t work on them, and that’s just what’s real. So, this gives you an opportunity to actually run the play and work on the fundamentals and techniques and let the players after the coaches have evaluated their last season to sit there and help them get better with the techniques and fundamentals they might need this season.
“I think it’s a win-win. I think it’s great to have the technology, but at the same time, I think it’s important that we’re still able to get them on the field. I’ve said this before, I think it’s important the coaches handle it the right way and try to keep the players as safe as they possibly can. For us, that means giving up the run game part of it. We did that versus air and bags, but we didn’t do it against each other, then that’s what we do. So, you’ve got to try to keep them as safe as you possibly can.”
As heavily outlined by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero this week, vaccinations will play a crucial role in determining how smoothly this NFL season will go. League rules will be vastly different for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
Reid told reporters that the Chiefs have made sure players know the facts when it comes to that, leaving the decision up to them.
“We’ve kept the guys as educated as we can with the different protocols,” said Reid. “Also gave them the opportunity to look into whether they wanted to be vaccinated or not, the pluses there, what the doctors are saying, what the latest science is saying. So, if they had questions, all I asked was that they get them answered. With that, we’ve had a number of guys sign up. We’re heading in the right direction there.
“We’re one of the top teams with vaccinations, and we’ll just keep rolling with it, but I think the education part of it ends up being important for a lot of guys just to know where this thing’s at and where it’s going. And I like the policies that they put in. There are some things that just have to be done to make it work, and I think the league has done that.”