Coming into last Sunday’s game with the Minnesota Vikings, the Kansas City Chiefs had a unique challenge: stopping Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who leads the NFL with 5,396 receiving yards since being drafted in the first round (22nd overall) of 2020’s NFL Draft. The Vikings also feature talented tight end T.J. Hockenson and the exciting young rookie Jordan Addison.
During Sunday’s 27-20 win, Kansas City’s young secondary was able to limit the Vikings’ passing offense to just 266 yards. While much of the praise is (rightfully) going toward cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie, we shouldn’t forget a veteran presence that has been a constant in Kansas City’s defense.
Signed by the Chiefs in the 2022 offseason, safety Justin Reid was given the difficult task of replacing All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu. Since then, the secondary has undergone a significant overhaul — and Reid has been the steady veteran presence who was needed throughout the process.
While Reid hasn’t made many highlight-reel plays, he’s been a dependable leader in a secondary featuring not only Sneed and McDuffie, but fellow veteran Mike Edwards and second-year safety Bryan Cook. It has quickly become one of the league’s best — and Reid’s knowledge and vision have helped no fewer than four rookie defensive backs become above-average starters.
“It’s a tight-knit group, man,” Reid said of his teammates on Tuesday. “We have a lot of trust in each other to go out and perform. [With] L.J., Trent, Mike and Cook — all those guys that [have] come in — there’s a very high level of confidence that we built through training camp right now. We believe in each other and we believe in the scheme. We go out there and perform and execute.”
After the departure of former second-round safety Juan Thornhill in the offseason, Kansas City added Edwards — a free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — who has made a big impact. Despite playing only 38% of the defensive snaps, Edwards ranks fourth on the team in passes defensed — and has the only interception of the year.
My favorite #Chiefs play from Sunday you may have missed on the broadcast— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 3, 2023
3rd & 11. L'Jarius Sneed aligns in press on Garrett Wilson, and completely erases him. Doesn't allow him to get out on a route
Makes Mike Edwards' reads simpler, leading him to nearly intercept the pass pic.twitter.com/9ZXKoLG4mV
“He’s a great player,” declared Reid of Edwards. “He comes in and has a knack for finding the ball. He’s a guy who has been great for the room — and as a teammate, character-wise — but is always humble and willing to learn. When the ball is in the air he just has a knack for being around it.”
Looking ahead to hosting Denver Broncos on Thursday night — when the team will be seeking to extend its 15-game winning steak against its AFC West rival — Reid sees Broncos’ quarterback Russell Wilson writing a much different story in 2023.
“Russ has been cooking,” he observed. “Their offense has been doing well. They’ve been hurt by some turnovers — [and] they have some things they need to tighten up on the defensive side of the ball — but offensively, Russ has been playing great. He’s getting thrown under the bus because of their record, but we have a challenge in front of us — and it’s not to be taken lightly.”