Coming off of four straight victories, the Kansas City Chiefs will attempt to continue the streak as they welcome the Denver Broncos to Arrowhead Stadium on this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football.
Speaking before this week’s only true practice on Tuesday, Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid expressed optimism about his squad’s preparation.
“Our guys had a good day of preparation yesterday,” he recalled, “and another day today that we can work on things. It’s a little bit of a cram course when you’re working on Thursday night, but the guys have been real good about it and have spent a lot of time up to this point on the game plan.”
While the coaches have spent time on the game plan, one of the Chiefs’ key defenders denied on Tuesday that the players had done anything the previous week other than prepare for the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Chiefs defeated 27-20 on Sunday. The “cram course” Reid spoke of, however, began almost immediately after.
“We try to focus on the task at hand,” Chiefs safety Justin Reid explained, “you don’t want to put the chicken before the egg and watch Broncos before we were done with the Vikings. But on the flight home, the page turned a lot quicker than we normally would, and we got to work on the Broncos right away.”
For Justin Reid, the condensed schedule makes preparing to open the league’s Week 6 matchups more difficult.
“Thursday nights are tough,” he confirmed. “You’re not going to get the same amount of field work as you’re going to get in a normal week. Your bodies are still kind of recovering a bit — so it really turns into a big mental game. Guys are going to have to be pros — and this is our job. So, it’s going to take a lot of film work, a lot of communication, and a lot of trust in our fundamentals that we went through in training camp to make sure we’re prepared to play.”
Coach Reid believes the work the Chiefs put in through the offseason program — including training camp and organized team activities (OTAs) — pays off on weeks like this.
“We went out there yesterday and walked around and did that part,” the coach stated. “We can do a decent amount. We banked enough during training camp and OTAs. It’s kind of a refresher from there.”
Also speaking on Tuesday, the league’s biggest star stressed the importance of being ahead of schedule on short weeks.
“I’m pretty big at Monday [and] Tuesday,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes revealed, “just really getting after it with the details and stuff like that. I feel like if I can really get the full game plan in — which we have already — and get it all down where I feel comfortable, Wednesday I can relax and let my body relax and study.”
Mahomes is also happy with the main advantage the Chiefs have over the Broncos this week: being the host team.
“It always helps to be the home team,” he declared, “so you’re at your house doing that instead of traveling and stuff like that. The coaches did a good job of getting the game plan in early, so I’ve got pretty much all of it down now. Hopefully, I get some sleep tonight and get some rest tomorrow.”
A familiar, divisional opponent also makes the truncated week easier, though the Broncos have undergone some major changes since the Chiefs last saw them in December.
“Their offense is a little bit different under new management,” Justin Reid observed, “with Coach Sean Payton and Coach [Joe] Lombardi as OC from the [Los Angeles Chargers]. They do some things differently from last year. Being familiar with them and them being familiar with us does help a little bit.”
Last season, the Chiefs hosted the Chargers for a Thursday night matchup in the second game of the season. Coach Reid appreciates the extra time to have better scouted an opponent for a short week.
“I can probably tell you that about every game,” he said of the benefit of an opponent having more film available. “You get through the first four games, at least you have an idea what guys are going to throw at you — at least somewhat of an idea...It’s better to have [a Thursday game] a little bit later, I think.”
Rarely one to go against league decisions, Coach Reid accepts the reality of Thursday games — and the extra work required for adequate preparation.
“I’m a fan like today because we’ve got the game plan,” he reiterated. “Getting to that point is tough — it takes quite a few hours. I’m ok with it. I understand. I think players get charged up over it...My main concern goes with the players. Just see how they feel — as coaches, we’re not getting beat up out there. We can push ourselves through it.”
Now in his 25th season as an NFL coach, Reid has learned to try to treat all games equally, regardless of circumstances.
“You have 17 of these babies to play,” he acknowledged, “and you’ve got to make sure you’re right for each one. That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter day or night, day of the week, where we’re playing — you’ve got to be ready.”