Although the Kansas City Chiefs were finally able to get in some live game action during Sunday’s preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints, head coach Andy Reid acknowledged that the 26-24 loss at the Caesars Superdome was far from their sharpest performance. While most of the team’s starters played in only one drive, it’s safe to say they did not meet Reid’s high standards.
“Some of the guys were a little flat in the beginning,” Reid told reporters after the game. “You can’t do that. When you come to work, you need to come to work ready to go.”
The matchup began with the Chiefs’ starting defense taking the field against a new-look Saints offense led by a familiar face: former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. New Orleans moved the ball at will, capping off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keith Kirkwood.
The first-team offense wasn’t much better. After four straight touches for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire — one of which was a nice 13-yard gain on a short pass — quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled for a five-yard gain, setting Kansas City up with its first critical situation of the year: fourth-and-1 at their own 48-yard line.
Reid decided to practice a familiar fourth-and-short play — the one where tight end Blake Bell motions to be directly under the center, takes a quick snap and pushes his way upfield. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Bell was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain — ending the drive. That also ended the day for most of the starting offense.
“After looking at it on the replay, we probably should’ve gone to the left and not the right,” Reid admitted after the game. “They ended up pinching on that side — the left side — and we probably could have gone in that direction.
“We’re trying to get where we can do that. We can’t work on that in camp live. You get good work on it here.
“It didn’t work. That was the bottom line. We have to go back to the drawing board on it.”
While it wasn’t the Chiefs’ best performance, the preseason is still the best time to have those kinds of experiences — before games actually matter. That is especially true for the team’s rookies — including first-round defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah and second-round wide receiver Rashee Rice. According to Reid, both held their own during their first NFL action.
“[Experience is] so valuable for them,” noted Reid. “They’re two guys who need that — the speed of this, live, the whole deal — and not just a handful of reps, putting a series together. I think that was good for both of them.
“Again, I have to evaluate off of the tape. We’re going to look at it. There are going to be some corrections. [But] I thought for the most part, they held their own and did a decent job there.”
The team’s slow start led to a 17-0 deficit as the second quarter began. Kansas City’s reserve players fought back, taking a 21-17 lead at the end of the third quarter. But then there was what Reid called a “terrible” ending: a fourth-quarter interception by quarterback Chris Oladokun that gave New Orleans the opportunity to win the game on a last-second field goal.
Still, Reid is happy to wrap up the first preseason game — and looks forward to working on Sunday’s mistakes before what is hoped to be a better performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
“All in all, it was good to get a game in,” said the head coach. “[With] the ‘ones,’ we have to pick up the tempo there on both sides of the ball; [it wasn’t] good enough. We have some things to work on there.
“It was good to get the young guys in. I thought they actually played pretty well. The ‘twos’ and the ‘threes’ [did] some good things [in] really all of the different positions. They all [came] back after being left in a deficit [to] bring ourselves back in the game. [But] you can’t finish it with a mistake. That’s a terrible way to end the thing.
“Looks like the Saints have a good football team. We have to make sure we get our stuff taken care of.”