Andy Reid couldn’t help but chuckle.
Less than 24 hours after opening the NFL season with a 38-28 win against the Chargers, Reid was asked about the idea behind two of the shovel passes his Kansas City Chiefs used to completely befuddle the L.A. defense.
“I can’t tell you that,” he said slyly after a laugh. “We’ve got a variety of them. Our quarterbacks, Alex (Smith) and Patrick (Mahomes), handled those well. Allows you to get all your guys involved in the run game part of it. Whether it’s your running back, receivers, tight ends, got a few different looks. The misdirection can be an issue there. That sometimes can get you.”
An NFL head coach for nearly two decades, Reid’s seen a lot and done a lot.
But something’s been different about him this season, and those closest to him took notice early on.
“He is more excited than I have seen him in a long time,” team president Mark Donovan told reporters in St. Joseph in July. “Not only about Pat. You put Sammy Watkins out there and Tyreek (Hill), (Travis) Kelce, Kareem (Hunt). If you are an offensive coordinator with the mind that he has and the creativity that he likes to bring to this game — that gets you excited.”
And after just one regular-season game, it’s easy to see why.
Regarded as an offensive guru, Reid opened up his playbook and unleashed his signature sorcery on the Chargers. The wild afternoon was more than a couple of shovel passes. There were run-pass option calls, read options and direct snaps to the running back.
The offensive numbers weren’t gaudy, but they were effective. The Chiefs had just 19 first downs to the Chargers’ 33 and 362 yards of offense to L.A.’s 541.
Reserved and even-keeled, Reid wasn’t flashing toothy grins or shaking with belly laughs on the sideline at the StubHub Center Sunday afternoon, but one thing’s certain: the Chiefs’ head coach was having fun.
“The ones that work, you get excited about,” Reid said on Monday afternoon’s conference call. “So those work. It was fun.”
The two shovel passes did more than work — they both went for touchdowns.
On the first one, the Chiefs set up at the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Initially lined up wide left, running back Hunt jogged over beside Mahomes to line up directly beside him on the left. After the snap, Hunt ran right, crossing in front of Mahomes just as wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas ran left.
Instead of handing the ball to Hunt, Mahomes shoveled it to Thomas, who ran into the end zone untouched. The misdirection worked so well that Kelce, who was responsible for blocking Thomas’ path, didn’t have to block a single white jersey once Thomas received the football.
Reid was having so much fun that he called the play again, this time in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs a yard away from the end zone.
Again, Hunt moved from his initial spot out wide to stand on Mahomes’ left side. At the snap, Hunt ran right, crossing in front of Mahomes. Instead of Thomas this time, Hill sprinted in front of Hunt.
Impeccably timed, Mahomes tossed the ball underneath Hunt’s arms as the two crossed to connect with Hill. Like Thomas, Hill scored untouched, casually zigging and zagging across the goal line in a fun, taunting way before capping the touchdown with a backflip. By this point, Reid wasn’t the only one having fun.
“This is a good group,” Reid said. “Our team, do we need to keep working and getting better? Yeah. These guys are pretty selfless that way. They get along and when they have success, you saw what they did.
“I was worried about getting guys back so we could kick the extra point there. You just, there’s a lot of support for one another. You saw when (Ron) Parker intercepted the ball or Hitch (Anthony Hitchens) makes a big play on the hit. They support each other that way. That’s what makes it fun for you.”