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Chiefs’ Matt Nagy: Player accountability ‘starts with me’

The offensive coordinator insists that coaches and players bear responsibility for Kansas City’s offensive problems.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

When the Kansas City Chiefs registered a 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, all-around sloppiness — including dropped passes, turnovers and penalties — once again stalled offensive drives. As the postseason nears, this has become a familiar theme.

Matt Nagy admits that these problems — particularly dropped passes — should have been resolved by this point of the season.

“It starts with me,” he reiterated to reporters on Thursday, “making sure that I, as an offensive coordinator, make sure that these players know that they’re accountable. Whether that’s in practice getting more catches — [or] whether it’s a mindset — it starts with me. I’ve got to make sure that we’re doing that. We as coaches — and that’s me coaching the coaches as well — [are] doing it together. The players need to do it as well.

“For me, more than anything, we started out [at] the beginning of the year [believing] that it naturally goes away — but it’s still happening. We’ve got to make sure that we talk about [it] — [and] we do everything we can to fix it.

“I can’t tell you anything other than we need to just keep making sure that we emphasize it. And [when] they get an opportunity to catch the ball, they do it — and we handle it the right way.”

On Wednesday, quarterback Patrick Mahomes assured the media that Nagy and head coach Andy Reid are keeping players accountable. While Nagy may not be as direct as his predecessor Eric Bieniemy — who is now offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders — he insists that the issues are being addressed.

“There’re discussions in the building,” he declared. “I’m not going to get into [the] how or what [of those]. You mention EB. I have so much respect for EB; he’s a hell of a coach. There are so many coaches in this league that have different coaching styles in how they do things. I will just say that our coaches on staff — and myself and Coach Reid — [know that] every player is different in how they handle being coached.

“So there’s a little bit of that, too, with how you handle certain guys. Some can handle tough criticism and others can’t. So there’s a feel to it. In the end, we’ve got to make sure the product out there is scoring touchdowns and winning football games.”

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Nagy believes that Mahomes fully embraces this balance.

“One of Pat’s strengths,” said the coach, “is he’s so good at being able to lead without having to show a million different ways of how he does it for three hours on gameday... I think that leadership-wise, there’s no better leader than Patrick Mahomes. I mean that. He does it in different ways — and no one has a better feel than Pat of understanding the differences in how you handle one person versus another. You might be able to handle yelling and screaming, and I might not be able to. Pat understands that.”

Although he is unquestionably the face of the league, Mahomes’ leadership has been questioned following Sunday’s sideline meltdown, which happened after the Chiefs were unable to take the lead on their final drive.

“I think you felt his emotion and passion for the love [of] the game,” said Nagy of the incident. “He came out the next day and said he wished he would have handled it differently. The emotions are real in the moment. It’s hard — it’s not easy.”

NFL: DEC 10 Bills at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The coach knows, however, that there are reasons for the league’s top quarterback to be frustrated with what’s been happening.

“I think [the frustration is] probably natural,” Nagy admitted, “when the simple fact of the matter is we lead the league in drops. You can start there. Now, when are the drops coming? Why are they coming? There are certain reasons for that. I think Pat wants to make sure that he can do everything he can to win the game.

“If that means that he gets frustrated because he feels like he has to do more, that’s probably a little bit natural. At the same point in time, I don’t think that’s why. I think that for him, he just wants to win — however we do it and however he can help do it.”

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