In 2022’s regular-season finale, the Kansas City Chiefs finally put together a complete game during a 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. All three phases contributed to the team’s dominant victory, allowing it to enter the postseason on a high note with the AFC’s top seed.
As the team closed the season with five straight wins, Kansas City’s defense has been an important part of its success. Although it took some time to find their rhythm, the Chiefs’ defenders are finally hitting their stride.
“This is the time of year that you want to get hot,” veteran Kansas City safety Justin Reid told reporters on Monday. “There [were] a lot of new faces coming into this defensive system. Like I said at the beginning of the year, the playbook was deep — and really the best way to get experience is just through reps. So our young guys have been getting a lot of reps under their belts. Like I said earlier: they’re no longer rookies, they’re first-year players.”
Reid said that as a veteran playing his first year in the organization, that’s been part of what he’s had to do, too.
“[I’ve] got a lot of reps under the belt now, starting to settle into the system and really know what the coaches are driving for and what they want us — the defense — to look like.
“So it’s coming together at a good time. We were able to finish the regular season on a high note. We’re going to have to take that momentum with us whenever we start approaching this first game of the playoffs.”
Andy Reid agreed with his starting safety’s assessment.
“He’s done a nice job in both of those areas,” the head coach of Reid’s performance and leadership on Monday. “He’s worked hard — and I think just being more familiar with the defense helps. I’ve noticed that with all the veteran guys that come in — just the familiarity of what you’re trying to do and get accomplished I think is important.
“You get that through reps — and normally it’s game reps, when teams are throwing you little different things that you’ve got to make some quick decisions on with the options that you have within the scheme. I think [Reid’s] done a nice job there.”
The comfort that the players have in the team’s defensive scheme is beginning to manifest itself in the turnovers they have recently collected. The Chiefs have forced eight in their last five games — double the number they had in the season’s first five games. Kansas City finished the season with 20.
“When they tend to come,” Justin Reid observed of turnovers, “they tend to come in bunches. So if I had to choose any time of the year for them to really start getting hot, of course I’d want to choose right now for that turnover machine to start kicking into action. [We’ve] really been ball-savvy.
“Coach Spagnuolo and all the defensive coaches have really focused (and harped) on getting the ball out each year. But as the level of the defense — and confidence of the defense — has risen, [we’ve been] able to make a couple more of those plays and have the ball swing our way.”
The safety thinks the entire team is playing with a high level of trust and confidence in each other — and believes this will be a critical factor in the postseason.
“You see that especially in this last game right here, all three phases — offense, defense, special teams — were able to end on a high note,” Reid noted. “So that’s big for us, momentum-wise. We’re going to have to continue to build off that.
“We know that the road’s only going to get tougher from here. We’re going to have to bring our best football.”