When Chiefs coach Andy Reid said last Sunday that he had a few other things to do before benching quarterback Alex Smith to fix the offense’s woes, he apparently meant it.
Reid will apparently cede some of his playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy during Sunday’s game against the Jets, a source confirmed to The Star.
The playcalling, however, will continue to be a collaborative effort, as it has all season, the source said. Reid still installed the plays this week, but Nagy has had an influence on the offense all season, particularly the college-style spread concepts the Chiefs used during their 5-0 start, and will simply be given more responsibility Sunday. Nagy is seen as an up-and-coming offensive mind in the NFL and perhaps the best head coaching candidate on Reid’s staff.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported the shakeup.
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This is not the first time Reid has switched up the playcalling in Kansas City. When the Chiefs got off to a 1-5 start in 2015, he started giving then-offensive coordinator Doug Pederson more playcalling input, and the Chiefs won their next 11 games, including their first playoff victory in 21 years, leading to Pederson being hired as the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach.
Reid has spoken in the past about his willingness to cede playcalling duties to an assistant he trusts. It’s something he also did with Brad Childress in Philadelphia.
“I have full confidence in Doug calling plays — if I get into a slump, he jumps in,” Reid said back in 2015. “If I think we need a change up, then we go with it. I think it’s also healthy, whether you’re in a slump or not, I just think it’s healthy to mix it up a little bit.”
The Chiefs’ offense has been mired in a funk over the last three games, as they’ve struggled to run the football effectively and beat zone coverages. After a scorching-hot start to the season, Smith has struggled in those games, completing 68 percent of his passes for 692 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions with a passer rating of 79.1, which ranks behind the season averages of struggling quarterbacks such as Miami’s Jay Cutler (82.7), Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (79.5) and the New York Giants’ Eli Manning (82.7).
That has led for many to call for rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was impressive in the preseason when he showed off a swagger and rocket arm. But while Mahomes is the No. 2 quarterback, he has spent the entire season on the scout team, only earning a handful of reps behind Smith. The offense, in many ways, has been built for Smith — particularly the spread-style concepts, checks at the line and pass protections — and would require tweaking for Mahomes to take over full time.
Yet, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Sunday, the Chiefs haven’t taken starting Mahomes off the table. Though the club clearly prefers for this to be a redshirt year for Mahomes, so he’d have time to grow and have an entire offseason to get comfortable with the scheme, it’s clear that Reid is looking at every possibility to fix his team’s recent slide, starting with himself.