From time to time, Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid likes to give shout outs to his assistant coaches, subtly mentioning them during his press conferences to get their names out there for future promotions. He takes pride in boosting up the coaches below him and seeing them succeed — even if it’s with another team.
When he’s asked about the creativity of his unique play designs, he always makes sure to mention the other minds behind then: those of offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka — and also first-year wide receivers coach Joe Bleymaier.
Bleymaier has been with the organization since 2016. He’s has gone from offensive quality control coach to pass-game analyst/assistant quarterbacks coach — and now has his first opportunity as an NFL position coach.
Reid has singled him out as one of the minds behind those memorable plays — but speaking with reporters after practice on Tuesday, Bleymaier claimed the head coach is just being modest.
“He’s deflecting,” maintained Bleymaier. “He’s the creative guru; he’s giving credit where credit isn’t due.”
But based on what he said about what they do to keep their offensive schemes innovative, Bleymaier might be the modest one.
“We do look and we try to find plays from anywhere in the country,” he explained. “When we find something that is being successful, if it’s not something we currently have in, we either copy it straight up or we see how it can fit. If something is working, we’re all about putting guys in the best position to succeed. If there’s a concept or a way to do [it] that we don’t currently have in, Coach isn’t afraid to add it.
“That’s the great thing about him, our offensive staff, our offense and the guys we have: they’re eager to get more and more and more — and get more on their plate in order to showcase their abilities.”
The players with whom Bleymaier is now working didn’t see their former position coach go far. After four seasons leading the wide receivers, Greg Lewis is now Kansas City’s running backs coach. Lewis has only been an NFL wide receivers coach — it’s the position he played with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings — but he’s confident he can make the transition.
“I don’t see it as a challenge,” claimed Lewis on Tuesday. “I see all of us as football coaches... Obviously, I haven’t played running back — but I’ve played football and I’ve been around great football players, great coaches — and I think I’m going to bring more insight to help them develop and help us be better as a group.”
Bleymaier understands that he’s less experienced than Lewis, so he doesn’t shy away from learning everything he can from the man that previously held his title.
“It’s a little unique with Coach Lewis still being here, just down the hall,” Bleymaier pointed out. “We can go to him. I go to him daily for questions and advice; our guys go to him. I’m the new receivers coach, but we kind of just gained an extra receiving coach. The guys feel free to go talk to him as well — and it’s been seamless.”
Lewis has obviously done a great job with developing not only the starting receivers but also reserve receivers — enough so that they can step up when their name is called. Now he’s working to help the running backs — and in his first offseason with them, he’s seen progress.
“I see improvements with all the guys,” he noted. “I think all the guys have really honed in on catching, looking it in, running good routes; it’s been a positive. That’s not to take away from their running. They’ve also done a tremendous job with that part of it. Pass protection is very important for us here — we want to keep Pat clean — and that’s our job to do that, too. It’s a lot involved in the position. It’s protection, it’s runs, it’s understanding everything that’s going on — basically from a quarterback’s perspective.”
One of Lewis’ former players is Mecole Hardman, who is clearly entering a very important year in his NFL career. After taking the handoff of Hardman’s development from Lewis, Bleymaier has noted the third-year receiver’s ability to be coached.
“Mecole is incredibly smart,” he said. “He’s obviously incredibly athletic. He’s taken coaching — and he’s taking the quarterback’s input, the coaching staff’s input and really applied it to the field... There are times when — because he’s so fast — he’s relied on running past people or running as fast as he can down the field. We’ve added, ‘You can set the guy up, and not only run past him, but you can really beat your man with this type of maneuver.’ Then he’s gone out and implemented that and experimented with it at practice.”
As multiple young receivers enter a crucial season, Lewis can still be an asset to the wide receiver group — while Bleymaier’s strengths as a coach could provide additional room to improve.
The continuity within Kansas City’s offensive coaching staff continues to be valuable — and the development of the team’s receivers is the proof.