Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid talks with cornerback Sean Smith (27) during the Chiefs 27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid Made The Right Call In Resting The Chiefs Starters


When the Kansas City Chiefs took the field on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers the general consensus was that the Chiefs were mailing it in. The Chiefs announced before kick off that only two of their 22 regular starters would be starting in San Diego. Most people (including this blogger) felt that head coach Andy Reid was conceding the game and gift wrapping it for the Chargers. Obviously, unless you spent the last 24 hours under a rock somewhere, we all know that’s not what happened. The Chiefs lead for most of the game and were a missed Ryan Succop field goal (or missed illegal formation penalty) at the end of regulation away from pulling off the victory.

Obviously for the Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers the outcome of this came was HUGE. That’s why I think Steelers fans should be screaming at the top of their lungs about the missed calls in that game that had a MAJOR effect on their team not making the playoffs. However, as much as I wanted KC to win that game, the win/loss really doesn’t make a difference to them. What does matter is how this team goes into the playoffs.

As word of the sitting KC starters broke before the game there were three factors discussed amongst fans and the media in looking at if this was a good move by Reid or not. Those three factors were health, momentum, and integrity. Let me start with the integrity angle.

If you follow enough national sports people on Twitter like I do you may have seen the flood of tweets before the KC game about how Andy Reid was hurting the integrity of the game by not playing all his starters in a game that had an effect on the playoff race. I’m not going to quote specifics or get into “he said/she said” arguments, but I do want to address that general issue. The NFL didn’t hire Andy Reid to coach the Chiefs, Clark Hunt did. The NFL doesn’t sign Andy Reid’s paychecks, Clark Hunt does. Andy Reid’s job description is not to do what is best for the NFL as a whole, but to do whatever is in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs. PERIOD.

If I was a Steelers fan would I have been pissed that Reid wasn’t playing all his best players? You bet I would have. If I was Roger Goodell and I was in charge of overseeing the entire game and how people perceive it would I have liked that Reid didn’t play his best players? No, I would not have. Neither of those questions matter though. So if anyone out there wants to try to argue that Andy Reid should take the feelings of Steelers fans and the NFL PR department into consideration when deciding what’s the best course of action for his team’s long term goal of winning a Super Bowl, you can try, but be prepared for me to laugh at you. When it comes to what’s best for the Kansas City Chiefs, Steelers fans, Roger Goodell, and every morally superior acting media member can go kick rocks. Andy Reid doesn’t answer to you. He answers to Clark Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs.

So now that I’ve addressed the “integrity of the game” argument, let’s get down to what was really the important debate. Was this the right move for the Kansas City Chiefs? In my opinion, it was 100% the right move.

You can talk to me all you want about momentum, but having the Chiefs regular starters racking up yards and points against a below average Chargers defense wouldn’t mean diddly poo when they face the Indianapolis Colts next week. Before any of you try to tell me otherwise, stop and think about the games leading up to KC’s first game against the Colts. The Chiefs offense had as much “momentum” as at any point in the entire season. In the four games leading up to the Colts game they had been averaging over 40 points per game. In the game directly before they scored a season high 56 points. All that “momentum” got them a whopping 7 points in that game. If that’s the best “momentum” can do, then the Chiefs better be banking on something else going into the playoffs.

That’s exactly what Andy Reid decided. He decided that having healthy starters with fresh legs gave the Chiefs a better chance to win than if they had gone all out in San Diego. Will it work out? I don’t know, but I sure as hell give KC a better chance with a healthy Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith than I would have if either of them had gotten injured against the Chargers.

Plus, I don’t know that the Chiefs have any less momentum after that game than they would have if the starters had played and won. That performance by KC’s backups showed a couple of things. First, it showed that the Chiefs roster is made up of guys with heart and guts. Those back up players could have gone in there and laid down on Sunday, but they fought tooth and nail for that win in a game that couldn’t help them in the standings. Don’t you think the starters on the sideline fed off of that? Don’t you think guys like Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, and Brandon Flowers were DIEING to get in that game and hit somebody as they watched those young guys go toe to toe with the Chargers “A team”? Don’t you think that those guys that sat out are that much more fired up to play this playoff game after watching their backups give everything they had out there on that field? I would argue that those starters are MORE hungry for this Saturday’s game than if they had played themselves and that’s a credit to the heart and soul that the second string showed on Sunday.

The other thing that game showed was that the coaching staff can get guys ready to play. They took a bunch of second stringers on the road against a talented team fighting for their playoff lives and had them mentally, emotionally, and strategically ready to play to the point that they were within a foot on a missed FG (or a missed penalty) from winning that game. If they can get those guys ready to play in a meaningless regular season game you can bet your booty that they’ll have the starters ready to play a playoff game.

You know how KC is going to beat the Indianapolis Colts?

They’re going to beat them with explosive plays by Jamaal Charles.

They’re going to beat them with Alex Smith taking what is there and not turning the ball over.

They’re going to beat them by getting an effective pass rush on Andrew Luck with a healthy Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Dontari Poe.

They’re going to beat them by creating turnovers.

They’re going to beat them by getting big plays on special teams.

That’s the blueprint for beating the Colts in Indianapolis this Saturday and from where I’m sitting I don’t see how sitting KC’s starters hurt their ability to do any of those things. Jamaal’s legs should be fresh and allow him to be more explosive. Alex Smith doesn’t need more practice at protecting the football, he’s got it down. The Chiefs need Hali and Houston healthy, resting them assures their health is as good as it could be for Saturday. That pass rush is what will force Luck into rushing throws and give KC a chance to create those turnovers. Finally, the guys that play special teams each and every week are the guys that started on Sunday and now have that much more confidence in their abilities.

It’s time to put the Chargers game behind us. Forget the overtime loss. Forget the missed field goal. Forget the missed calls by the officials. Forget resting starters.

Andy Reid has the same Kansas City Chiefs team that was 2-14 last season in the playoffs at 11-5. It’s time to get excited and focus on this playoff match up. The Chiefs have the tools to win this game. I laid out the blueprint up above. I believe that this team can win. Andy Reid has put them in a position to get that done. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned it. In fact, Andy Reid should be the NFL coach of the year. Some may try to argue that resting his starters on Sunday is a strike against him. I think come Saturday, we’ll see it was just another brilliant move by the man known as “Big Red”.

The coach that will finally end the Kansas City Chiefs playoff drought.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    Good work, Graversen!
    Per the Midnight rule, I’m disallowed from challenging you about resting players before a playoff game.
    With that said, it’s time to finally get the Colts one-and-done monkey off of our backs.

  • berttheclock

    I have noticed all of the “Dump Chase Daniels As He Is Vastly Overpaid” posters of last week are sleeping in this day.

    • freshmeat62

      OK, I’m roasting a little crow right now.

      • berttheclock

        Hey, he surprised me, as well. But, it really was his first actual test. Playing a quarter or two in preseason games or coming off the bench in mop ups aren’t true tests. That said, there still is one other factor which still remains unknown. I have read comments from pundits which explained why many teams want a backup QB who has had actual game experience so he can come in on a moments notice and take command. Chase has still not had to do that when a game is on the line. So, stay tuned.

    • tm1946

      Not really, he did a excellent job but in the overall view of the salary situation, there is a whole lot of money tied up in a guy no wants really wants on the field.

      • berttheclock

        Hmmm, “no one wants”. Sounds akin to the early version in Philly and in Dallas, where no one, that is, no fan wanted to see Foles or Orton. Philly only paid 500 thou for Foles and many, now, do not want to see Vick return. Orton is being paid $850,000 by the “Genius” in Dallas and threw his customary two picks, yesterday. Daniels at $750,000, in my non-humble opinion, does not appear to be out of line.

        • micah stephenson

          Daniels is paid 3 million a yr. Not $750, 000.

          • berttheclock

            No, michah, he is receiving $750,000 for 2013 with a signing bonus of one mill and miscellaneous payouts of $50,000. For 2014, his salary will jump to $2,350,000 with a signing bonus of one mill and misc of 50 thou. In 2015, his salary will be $3,750,000 with another one mil signing bonus and misc of 50 thou. So, next season, fans will have more reason to wonder if he is over paid, but, not for this season.

      • micah stephenson

        I thought he paid too much for Chase and Fasano. And still think that.

        • toperspective

          Agree re Fasano. This team needs a TE that is a threat on offense.

  • berttheclock

    I still believe Dorsey’s backup players would trounce Pioli’s backup players.

    BTW, I had to change plans from going to D’s Bar and ended up “watching” the game via ESPN, so, unfortunately, I missed seeing anything about the Weddle fumble debacle. However, there was one thing which was very strange on the opening kickoff. They printed Tyler Bray had kicked off. Really?

  • Gene Haigler

    yea the worst thing bout this game is we can’t just release chase…as he looked pretty good

    • DoubleD

      I kind of like the idea that Daniels might now be of some higher trade value.

  • freshmeat62

    I have a solution to the “problem” of Reid resting his starters in a meaningless game – Re-seed!

    If they would seed based on record, rather than who won a division, the Chiefs could have been playing for a 1st rd. bye, or at least a 1st game home game, if they had won and New England had lost. I bet Reid would have played every starter if he had a home game on the line.

    Was impressed w/ how Daniel played. I think he could be a pretty good starter w/ some more experience. Maybe the Chiefs have created some trade bait w/ him. Heck the whole 2nd team for that matter.

    With the 2nd team playing so well, maybe that will be a kick in the pants to the starters.

  • berttheclock

    The box score indicates that Allen Bailey had the most tackles, so, Pioli made the right pick. The next eleven players were all players acquired by Dorsey through free agency, waiver wire pickups or the draft. Dorsey has added important depth. On offense, look at those Dorsey brought in, as well, through trades, free agency or the draft. I envision Dorsey only getting stronger in adding depth to the Chiefs.

    • micah stephenson

       I envision Dorsey only getting stronger in adding depth to the Chiefs……I don’t think anbody envision’s him getting weaker and subtracting depth. ;-)

    • Gene Haigler

      does Allen Bailey’s play yesterday make the Chiefs think about letting Jackson go?

      • berttheclock

        Apparently, it could develop into another situation of salary cap. The off season will be very interesting at One Arrowhead.

  • A1 Yola

    The Starters only scored 7 points in their last outing. The O-Line regressed against the Colts also. I’m a true fan, but I believe it was the wrong move to rest underachieving players. The only good thing about yesterday was that Marcus Cooper was out there getting some much needed experience! I hope Our Team doesn’t fall flat against the Colts again.

  • tm1946

    Might want to wait until the final gun of the Indy game before deciding this was the right move or not. It does seem reasonable based on what the backups did on the field, except for first stringer Succup.

    After we beat Indy…. there will be plenty of time to be amazed.

  • Doc

    Good article Lyle! I am on the ‘rest them’ side of this debate. If Reid plays them and someone gets hurt – it’s a bad move. If he rests them and they fall flat against IND – it’s a bad move. With no impact on the playoff positioning, this was a good game for evaluation of backup players. It allows Dorsey and Reid better tape to evaluate these players in the off season than pre-season tape. Some contracts are coming due and they need to know what they have in backup players. This also may have planted a seed of fire in the starters that their job could be on the line with the performance of the backups yesterday. A motivational kind of thing. It also gives them a week of rest before the playoff run starts. We hear it every year how long the season is and ow tired and battered the players are. I think there will be a fire in the starters that will beat the Colts on Saturday. We’ll know by Saturday night if resting the starters was the right thing or not.

  • berttheclock

    I would suggest the 2007 Colts, who rested their starters for their last two games. They did have a first round bye, so, the starters had three weeks off. The first of those “rested” games was against the Jets at Lucas. The Jets won 29-15. The next time they met was in the playoffs, where they beat the Jets 30-17 at Lucas and advanced to the SB.

    I still believe the game against the Colts a week ago was a game where the coaching staff of the Chiefs “rested” and did not play all of their cards. In essence, it was a throw away game, which usually have fans more upset about losing than the players. Players have learned to shake off such games and go forward. The Celtics, once, destroyed the Lakers in a first game in Boston. LA fans were devastated, while, Magic laughed it off. The Lakers won the series in less than seven games.

  • freshmeat62

    About Reid’s decisions. I have no problem w/ resting his starters yesterday. The decision I question was running the clock out at the end of the 1st half. He was on his own 39 w/ 33 seconds and 1 timeout left. Why didn’t he try to get a couple of 1st downs and try a field goal? He only needed to get about 30 yards to get into Succop’s range. I got the impression he didn’t care if he won or not, just get the game over.

    • Gene Haigler

      I was thinking the same thing
      why not take and get points before half??

      • berttheclock

        In basketball, Bill Russell used to question those who were so hung up on some last few seconds of play. He said they never seemed to notice what happened near the end of the first half, where some teams went into a shell and gave up unneeded points or failed to take scoring opportunities. Bobby Knight has said the same thing about how end of first halves can make a huge difference down the line. Hold your opponent or score more near the end of the first half and you may not have those last second problems down the line. Too many teams let down and end the first half of play sleep walking.

    • Norman Gunn

      Because it is Chase Daniels….

    • toperspective

      Agree. Might as well have played to win instead of playing not to loose. Very strange decision.

  • micah stephenson

    I liked not playing the starters. I don’t care if winning or losing affected another team making the playoffs. No other team would care about us. No other team is gone b like we need to play our starters becuase if we don’t kc won’t make the playoffs. So who cares what the other teams feel about it.

  • micah stephenson

    People keep saying we need wrs. Yesterday Mcluster, Jenkins, and Hemmingway made plays. Why can Daniels get these guys the ball but Alex can’t? Our back up oline is good enough to protect Chase but when our starting oline is in there Smith fans claim the oline sucks and he simply don’t have time in the pocket. Hmmm.

    • berttheclock

      Alex Smith hit Dexter 7 times on November 24 in KC against the Chargers. He hit Jenkins, once. Hemingway did not play very much at wide out as AS threw to Avery and Bowe. Offensive line played better, yesterday? Chase Daniels was sacked twice and received six QB hits. On 11/24, Alex Smith was sacked 3 times and had 4 QB hits. Chase helped himself a great deal by using his feet. BTW, one of the rookies who played far better than many expected was Kush.

      • Suzi Conger

        PFF ranks our starting OLine 23rd; basicly a D grade (not just ‘smith fans’) as usual ms speaks in fallacy mode…many fans and pundits (not exclusively ‘smith fans) have been recognizing that some of our ‘seconds’ perform better than BA, (amazing that BA made PB…he is ranked #1 -#4 for excessive penalty yardage losses, thus killing many 1st dn/3rd conv. and drives) Asamoah, Hudson. Many pundits, LDawson, MHolthus, TBradshaw, PFF, NFL to name a couple, have verified that ‘Smith scrambles and avoids as many sacks as he takes”… he is what, top 5ish rushing QB’s in nfl, with approx. 22/23 1st dns achieved. As you know, our receivers are #4/#5TH in nfl for most Catchable Passes Dropped ( 3 70+ yd on-the-money passes…Dropped (multiple 20+ – 40+ passes…dropped ).

        bert, I appreciate your input; can you shed light on the fact that in reality, our ‘seconds’ D in game 2 by far out produced our ‘starter’ D in game 1? None of the ‘writers’ (that I have seen) want to acknowledge the following:; Game 1…Our D was hammered by PRivers offense; Our D allowed 43 PTS!!… Very little pressure/Sacks?/’hurrieds’ against rivers, with plenty of time for him to execute. Not to mention 12TH Man homefield advantage!! Game 2; our seconds D only allowed 24 or 27 (depends on viewpoint :-) PTS!!!…did not get hammered and applied sacks/pressure/hurrieds upon rivers.. No one has ‘breathed’ a word about the blatant D performance discrepancy…?

        Game 1: Alex-led-Offense put up 38 Pts !!! (can’t remember, were all points Offense/FG’s?) in spite of greater pressure/sacks/lack of time to execute against AS11…

        Seems like a good combo would be AS led Offense and ‘Seconds’ Defense, lol. just kidding,

  • kcpauly

    The NFL wants to bitch about the integrity of the game, but have the most horrendous year of officiating in a long time, these guys are so inconsitant it’s not even funny, and I’m not just talking about this game, but every game all year, they have cost several teams with bad, or no calls, it is a joke, unless you play on a team with Manning or Brady, you can bet the refs will fuck the game up and possibly cost your team a win, this is the hipocrytical BS that almost makes me think the refs are told who wins and who loses and make it happen, I wonder if Vince McMahon is running the NFL these days?
    Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Garion

    The Chiefs did the most they could for the whole team by playing the backups, allowing a better opportunity for San Diego into the playoffs, so that San Diego has better chance of heading to Denver than we would, getting starters to think about how they better do things right or there is someone behind them with the talents to do it, and you better believe that after a game like that every single backup now has better trade and free agency stock. We know exactly who we need to keep and release after that game because it was close. The backups had to play the whole time, 100%, which meant we saw 60 minutes of trying, not just 10 minutes if it had been a blowout.

  • toperspective

    I wasn’t thrilled with the decision to rest all of the starters since I went to the game – selfish reasons. But the backups played a heck of a game. Other than the missed FG and he blown forward progress stopped call it was a great game.

  • erocks49ers

    I thought it was genuis. It was like throwing the game but not really throwing the game.

    I would want the Chargers to play the Broncos (after they destroy the Bengals). They beat the Broncos, containing Manning. Chances are they can do it again. The Chiefs can beat the Colts because the offense is clicking and Smith has face Brady before and won

    That would make it a Chiefs Chargers battle. The starters will be healthy and rested. Just genius.

    • JB

      Not only that, but Chargers/Chiefs battle AT One Arrowhead Drive! Oh that would be so glorious!

  • Mike Reola

    Still feel the same way? Two weeks off can make a player brittle. And karma cannot be measured except in the minds of those about to be the victims of an unprecedented comeback. I’m a steelers native and you guys got yours. Ha.