Chiefs head coach Andy Reid saw bright spots in his team's 35-32 loss at Tennessee on Sunday, but those glimmers disappeared in the darkness of penalties, miscommunications and other mistakes.
“There were some positives things as we went along, but unfortunately the negatives things masked that and caused the end result, which is a loss,” Reid said. “We've got to fix that.”
The loss dropped the Chiefs to 6-4 on the season and cut their lead to just a half-game in the AFC West race with a trip to Mexico City next Monday against the the Los Angeles Chargers looming ahead. Reid believes his club can bounce back from a disappointing loss.
“I've got a good locker room and these are guys that work hard and practice hard and fast and we'll get back on it,” Reid said. “We've got to learn from it.”
Mahomes, Offense Roll
One of Reid's lone bright spots came from the offense, which piled up 530 yards of offense and controlled the clock for nearly 38 minutes. In his return after a two-game absence, quarterback Mahomes finished 36-of-50 passing for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
“I thought he got back in the swing fairly quick,” Reid said. “The first throw was a little bit of pressure on it, that wasn't a designed rollout. After that one it settled down protection-wise for the most part.”
Four offensive penalties for 45 yards, a fumble by running back Damien Williams and other offensive breakdowns, however, slowed the offense. One offensive pass interference penalty by Tyreek Hill wiped out a touchdown throw to Travis Kelce.
“It's tough with the mistakes we had, the penalties we had,” Reid said. “You start taking touchdowns off the board, those type of things, fumbles, those hurt you. We've got to do better, I've got to do better, I've got to make sure I'm putting guys in the right position at the right time also.”
Offensive Line Shuffling
The Chiefs have only one offensive lineman, center Austin Reiter, play every snap this season. The injuries befalling the line hit again on Sunday with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and swing lineman Martinas Rankin suffering injuries. Rankin started the game at left guard, but moved to right tackle filing in for Schwartz. Rankin suffered a knee injury on the next snap.
At one point the Chiefs fielded just five healthy offensive linemen. If another one went down, Reid says he would have plugged in a tight end on the offensive line.
The Chiefs thus far have survived the rash of injuries due in part to the flexibility of the team's linemen. Rankin and Andrew Wylie have played three different positions this season, and left tackle Cam Erving and backups Stefen Wisniewski and Nick Allegretti can all play multiple positions. Reid credits offensive line coach Andy Heck for preparing even starting linemen to play multiple spots.
“The way he does with his rotation throughout the year pays off in a situation like this,” Reid said.
Despite the new injuries, Reid isn't ready to hit panic button for reinforcements quite yet. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) and left tackle Eric Fisher (groin) both practiced last week and might be ready to return before next Monday's contest with the Los Angels Chargers.
“There's a chance you get those guys back in the mix, we'll just see how that goes throughout the week,” Reid said. “I think we'll be OK there.”
Failed Field Goals Costly
The Chiefs field goal unit had a rough finish on Sunday with a botched snap and a blocked kick in the final 90 seconds that prevented the team forcing the game into overtime.
The botched snap resulted from a miscommunication between long snapper James Winchester and holder Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt recovered the ball and threw it away, resulting in a flag for intentional grounding.
“We'll work on that and fix it, that's what we do as a team,” Reid said. “We've all made mistakes and collectively we've to make sure we fix those things.”
The coach after the game said he wanted to review the blocked field goal to see if Titans cornerback Joshua Kalu jumped offsides. After watching the tape, Reid deemed it a good no call by the officials.
“He beat (tight end) Blake (Bell) off the ball just by timing it up,” Reid said. “That happens. The guy got a great jump on it. Blake wasn't able to get his right hand up there, didn't slow him down, the guy kind of hand swiped on it.”
Running back LeSean McCoy was a healthy scratch against Tennessee with Reid pledging to manage the workload he heaps on the 31-year-old's shoulders late in the season.
“I think he's in good shape,” Reid said, “He's just a little bit older and so it's my responsibility to manage him in a way I feel is right, so I chose to do what I did there.”
Reid committed to continue managing McCoy's workload, but declined to elaborate if that means more rest during the final six games of the regular season.
“Right or wrong, I chose to do what I did there,” Reid said. “We'll just see how it goes going forward.”
The two most significant injuries coming out of Sunday's game were defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah's torn right pectoral and Rankin's right knee injury. Reid didn't elaborate on the extent of either injury, awaiting tests results later on Monday. Reid didn't rule Ogbah for the season yet, however.
“I don't know how significant it is, you have different levels of that,” he said.
A day after defensive end Frank Clark discussed a pinch nerve his neck that has caused issues since training camp, Reid said he would rely on the team's vice president of sports medicine and performance Rick Burkholder to manage the situation.
“I know Rick will keep a close on it, which he's been doing,” Reid said. “Those things you can help with treatment and that. They'll work on that.”