The conversation this week around the Chiefs is rest versus rust and it’s all overblown.
All this week, Kansas City Chiefs fans are going to debate, read about, and question the philosophy of Andy Reid‘s approach to Week 17. Namely, they’re either going to approve or disapprove of his handling of the roster moving forward given that the team’s upcoming game against the L.A. Chargers is essentially meaningless. The choice before him, of course, is to either give his best players an extra breather or keep them moving as always, knowing that they also have the first-round bye coming up the following week.
Basically, the conversation this week around the Chiefs is rest versus rust.
In many ways, it makes sense that fans would make more out of the issue than they should. After all, it’s the drama of sports that draw us to them, and for the next couple weeks, the Chiefs lack any drama whatsoever. After winning 14 of 15 games, the team has locked up AFC’s top seed. They’ve taken care of business so well that there’s nothing at stake in Week 17. In fact, it’s hard for any of us to even get excited about knocking off the Chargers—again.
The only remaining topics around which we can create any drama is in player awards (and just look at the energy expended on social media around Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes for NFL MVP) or nitpicking the team’s recent offensive struggles to the point that you’d think the Chiefs were 7-9 and spending the month of January at home. Other than that, it’s all about rest versus rust and what the Chiefs should do.
It might be boring, and it completely robs us of the drama, but the best thing to do is not to even worry about it. Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame head coach who has been here before on multiple occasions. He goes to bed and wakes up thinking about what is best for his players and their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. He’s also in charge of a fairly large staff of people who all operate the same way. If there’s really anything significant to be gained (or lost) by resting players versus playing them, Reid will not only know it but work toward it. If not, then he won’t.
Here’s the thing: in a sports world where everything is always positioned with such hyperbole, when nuance is hard to find and everything is painted in black and white, this whole rest vs. rust thing sounds ridiculously one-dimensional. If Reid wants to play his players for a full quarter or even a half before resting them, he should be trusted to know what he’s doing. And even if someone is injured in that span of time, it doesn’t mean his approach was flawed. It simply shows us that on any given play, whether everything or nothing is on the line, a player can be injured. That’s it. That’s all.
The same can be said of the whole rust idea. Are some people picturing Patrick Mahomes heading to some darkened hotel room with the windows blacked out where he will hibernate for the next few weeks only to emerge shortly before the next playoff game? Just because a player doesn’t play in a game doesn’t mean he’s not ready to play in a game. The Chiefs will continue to practice. The guys will continue to work out. They will eat what they always eat and train the way they always train and study film the way they always study. They just won’t be absorbing punishing hits from opponents for the next few weeks.
That actually sounds quite helpful.
In a world where guys like Colin Cowherd or Stephen A. Smith are paid a lot of money to make mountains out of molehills, it’s a healthy practice for us to not only ignore them but to put in the work to make sure we’re not parroting them. Whether the Chiefs rest every single starter or give them all 60 minutes of playing time is up to Andy Reid and the only “right” answer involved is whatever he says it is. If that steals your joy to not debate it, that’s fine, but don’t expect the healthiest of us to participate.