KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former President Harry Truman popularized the phrase, “The buck stops here.”
A simple four words, but it carries deep meaning as a sign of leadership to accept responsibility – good and bad – for those under a charge.
And Chiefs coach Andy Reid is known for doing just that during press conferences whenever the team lays an egg.
“I’m just not going to stand here and my name is on this,” Reid said the day after the season-opening loss, “and this is my press conference. I’m the one accountable when it’s all said and done, and then it goes from there.”
The Chiefs enter Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos following a shelling at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. And the final 26-10 is a small indication of the dominating performance by the Titans defense.
The aftermath has the Chiefs’ offense entering Week 2 ranked 30th in yards (245), 28th in yards per play (4.4), 32nd in time of possession (22:16), 32nd in third down efficiency after going a dismal 1-of-12 (8.3 percent), 30th in points and 27th in sacks allowed (four).
While the Chiefs defense recorded four sacks, it didn’t fare much better overall. The Titans rushed for 162 yards, totaled 405 yards of offense and controlled the ball for 37:44.
Reid’s stance of shouldering responsibility is commendable, but some of the team’s veteran players don’t want that scenario every week.
“We don’t want our coach taking the blame,” ninth-year outside linebacker Tamba Hali said. “We’re the players. We’re the ones out there, we have to make the plays and we work together – the coaches and the players – but we have to make the difference.”
Backup offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach, a fifth-year pro, agreed.
“Coach Reid is a tremendous coach and he’s willing to step up,” Linkenbach said. “He oversees the team, so he’s willing to take it on his shoulders. That’s a great trait to have. But honestly, everything always starts up front – the offensive line is mine – it feels nice, but at the same time we need to do a better job so he’s able to deflect the positive back to us as opposed to taking all the negative.”
Linkenbach has a point when it comes to the offensive line considering the Chiefs have more patchwork on the right side.
The Chiefs placed Jeff Allen on injured reserve on Friday after he underwent elbow surgery, and Ryan Harris is the next man in line at right tackle. The offensive line was already down Donald Stephenson, who continues to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
Reid said the team is accountable to each other, and that stance must come together as the Chiefs battle adversity when also considering the depth of injuries in the past week.
Allen, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (Achilles) and defensive end Mike DeVito (Achilles) are done for the season, meaning the players must come together.
“It’s a team sport and everybody should be working together instead of working against one another,” Hali said. “With losing the first game, if you’re not tight as a team, you can start separating and that’s basically what he’s (Reid) trying to get across. We just have to work with one another and just eliminate the distractions.”
Fullback Anthony Sherman, a fourth-year pro, indicated setting the example as a veteran by putting in daily hard work plays a role in holding himself and teammates accountable.
Sherman said it’s important to keep focused on the details and ensuring everybody is on the same page to stay the course, and that view starts Sunday afternoon against the Broncos.
Doing so will hopefully allow the Chiefs head coach to not constantly shoulder the bulk of any potential blame.
“It’s not all on him,” Sherman said. “A lot of it is on us. We have to execute the stuff that he calls and we didn’t do that that great last week, so it’s on both ends.”