Approximately 13 hours after the conclusion of the Chiefs’ embarrassing 43-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, coach Andy Reid did the best he could to put his team’s subpar performance heading into the bye week behind him.
Reid did this by accepting full responsibility for the loss, which is par for the course for him. He’s been a head coach in this league for 18 years, and one of the reasons his players play hard for him – remember, the Chiefs scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns on Sunday when they were down by 36 points — is because he regularly takes those bullets.
But when Reid said Monday that he needed to have his team better prepared to play, he didn’t mean physically; he meant mentally.
“When you’re a good football team — or you’re perceived to be a good football team — you’ve got to learn how to control yourself, play better and not let emotions get the best of you,” Reid said. “”Our guys busted their tails and tried hard. We’ve got to learn how to control those emotions.”
Reid was not referring to his team’s mental toughness; he was referring to its ability to stay focused on task, and not make errors, when put under the gun — like the Chiefs were against the Steelers, when they fell into an early 22-0 hole in front of a nationwide audience.
“It’s important that you don’t rush things and you keep the fundamentals and techniques sound,” Reid said. “If a game gets away from you, to the point where you blink and they’ve got 22 points on the board, now you’re out of your game plan. You’ve got to make adjustments in order to play catch-up on offense and operate on defense, depending what they’ll continue to do.
“As a head coach, I’ve got to make sure the adjustments are right and my guys are doing the right thing.”
Those words will be of little comfort to fans who are sick of watching the Chiefs start games slowly. Four games in, and the offense has been putrid from the get-go in three of them, but Reid noted that the season still has 12 games remaining.
“We’re 2-2 — it’s not the end of the world, even though it feels that way,” he said. “That’s how things are in the National Football League. We’ve got a week to step back, analyze and fix some of these issues. The consistency is the two road games which we haven’t done very well in.
“I’ll go back and look at my approach to the players — I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job there when getting them mentally right to function in a football game.”
Reid didn’t offer many details on how he plans to do that going forward, but one thing he won’t do is punish them by cutting into their bye week to make adjustments.
“We’ll work today and then they’re gone — the league has some rules too,” Reid said. “I’m going to treat them like men and expect them to handle it that way. They’ll learn from their mistakes this week, and we’ll reconvene next week.”
One way to help them learn from their mistakes this week before the go, he said, is with blunt film study.
“I’m going to be honest with them,” Reid said. “I want them to be honest with what they see, and then we’ll work on the corrections as a group.”
Many of his assistant coaches, who were made available to the media on Monday, made it clear that they agree with that approach.
“This is how you get past it — you wake up, you come to work, you take a look at the tape, you look at the good, you evaluate the bad,” running backs coach Eric Bieniemy said. “The first thing you always do is take a look at yourself and say what can I do? Am I doing my job to the best of my knowledge? Also, making sure I’m presenting the right information. Then, you ask the players the same exact questions.
“We sit there, we talk about it, we discuss it, we look at it, we study it and you know what, we flush it, we keep moving. We’re professionals. We had an unfortunate game. There’s a lot of season left to be played, so that’s the good thing.”
Defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas certainly made the latter point clear.
“Well, we knew going into the season that it wasn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Thomas said. “So, we dropped that one. We didn’t play well. We deserve to lose that one. We thought we prepared well all week, and we just didn’t come out that way.”
So now, assistant head coach/receivers coach David Culley said, they will turn their attention to a road test against the Oakland Raiders on Oct 16.
“We have two weeks to get ready for Oakland,” Culley said. “We’ll take out our frustrations on them.”