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!!!!!!!!!!
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