Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had an interesting point to make after the loss to the Steelers that partly blamed a lack of energy for the team.
No one doubts that football is a very, very physical sport. The toll it takes on the human body has been a subject of serious controversy, interest and debate over the last several years—from its concussive effects to the additional toll of playing short weeks with the invention of Thursday night games. Perhaps it’s part of the reason why the Kansas City Chiefs find themselves mired in their present slide.
The Chiefs began the season facing a top-heavy schedule that ranked among the toughest in the entire NFL. They came out of the gate with a dominant presence never before seen in Andy Reid’s coaching tenure with the team and subsequently toppled two of the league’s toughest teams in the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. From there, the Chiefs defeated their next three opponents and were the final unbeaten team in the NFL through Week 5. Then came the wall.
The Chiefs have now lost three of their last four games and things aren’t looking good at all for K.C. Those first two losses came in very, very close games to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. Both games involved game-changing touchdown catches that caromed off of a player’s helmet and fishy officiating calls. In short, both games could easily be wins for the Chiefs. However, in each, issues on both offense and defense clearly showed at the surface.
Since then, in a win over the Denver Broncos and Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Chiefs have looked even worse. The Chiefs were gifted a win over Denver, whose offense is so poor that it’s hard to believe, and then Sunday’s game was never really that close. From the outset, Dallas seemed in complete control once they got on the board after initially trading punts with K.C. to open the game.
After Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, Andy Reid spoke after the game and in part blamed a lack of energy for the team’s performance. It was an interesting notion and one that matches the eye test—that is, the Chiefs do look tired, passionless, even soft. Here’s the full quote:
"“We’ve all got a piece of it but it definitely starts with me on this,” Reid said. “We didn’t have a lot of energy. There were a couple of good things in there. Tyreek did a nice job with the catch before half and the middle screen. But we’re going to take a step back, here, and get some rest during this bye week and we’re going to regain our thoughts and evaluate ourselves and go forward.”"
It’s human tendency to check out at key moments like this. I can say from personal experience that the day or two before I’m able to head out on vacation are usually useless days as I’m simply already checked out, too antsy and thinking about the vacation to really get anything done. Is this also true on a corporate level? Is it possible for an entire group of people to experience the same sensation—that a team could “check out,” so to speak?
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The Chiefs are now heading to their bye week, giving players and coaches some well-deserved time away as well as some additional headspace to assess the situation and make any changes. It’s the perfect time. The Chiefs have not only struggled to put a healthy product on the field in recent weeks, but they could also use an adjustment period after struggling so much at midseason.
So did the Chiefs check out a bit earlier than they should? Did they look forward too much and, consequently, overlook the Cowboys? After playing so many trying games against so many tough opponents? Did they take it easier than expected in a non-conference match-up that was the lone hurdle before some rest and relaxation?
It’s hard to imagine any player wanting to physically let up, let alone admitting as much, but Reid implied it was part of the issue on Sunday—that the Chiefs just don’t have the sort of physical reserves they had before. Maybe it’s attrition. Maybe it’s so many games in primetime on funny days that make it hard to establish a rhythm. These all sound like excuses more than truths, but perhaps there’s something to be glean.
If the Chiefs are able to add more capable bodies to the roster and enjoy a week off in the midst of a grueling season, the energy level will return. But you have to wonder not only what it means but what the potential cure could be for a team that is quickly sinking