KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs head coach Andy Reid says every team has its own identity, and while he awaits the emergence of the 2017 team’s self-image he sees an edge in this year’s group.
“The one thing they do is they do a great job of letting their personality show, and there’s some great personalities on this football team,” Reid said.
“And for them all to come together like they do and respect each other and push each other, challenge each other, it’s a fun thing to watch,” Reid explained. “They’ll do it on Sundays but they’ll also do it on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.”
Quarterback Alex Smith said he remembers starting from what we seemed square one in 2013. He said coach Andy Reid asked the team to buy into a philosophy, and now the team has a ready-for-primetime mentality.
Smith said he doesn’t remember playing too many primetime games when he first arrived in Kansas City.
“We’re on the main stage now,” Smith said. “We’ve got a bunch of them now, no bigger than the opener. I think we’ve earned that and got to continue to earn it.”
The last four seasons included many ups and downs, perhaps none more disappointing than last year’s playoff loss at home to Pittsburgh. But Smith said this year’s team stands stronger due to past frustrations.
“I think all that stuff we take with us, and I think it will only help us as we go forward,” Smith said.
HOUSTON FIRED UP FOR HEALTY SEASON
Two injury-riddle seasons frustrated linebacker Justin Houston, and now the 28-year-old pass rusher feels reading to hit the field healthy once again.
“I’m just excited to be out there with the guys and not have to deal with the injuries,” Houston said. “Just wake up and go and not dealing with rehab, just thank God for the opportunity to be out there with my guys again.”
The last time Houston went through a full season healthy he collected 22 sacks. He feels rejuvenated back out with his teammates for training camp and the preseason for the first time since 2014.
“You see the guys out there but there’s nothing like putting that work in with the guys and with your teammates building every day getting better,” Houston said.
The veteran’s return along with a healthy seasons from Derrick Johnson and Allen Bailey adds dramatically to the defense’s ability to coach itself on the field.
“When someone messes up on the field as a defense, we can correct each other before the coaches even say something,” Houston said. “We talk about it before the next play even comes. ‘Who got this guy?’ or “Who messed up?’ and we figure out what we do wrong.”
Houston said the defense regularly polices itself during the game, working to eliminate mistakes and make sure errors don’t occur a second time. He said everyone contributes their own experience.
“It’s a family thing, so when one guy messes up we can all correct it, not just one or two guys,” Houston said.
ARROWHEAD NAMING RIGHTS
The Chiefs acquired the opportunity to sell naming rights to Arrowhead Stadium nearly a decade ago. No sponsor name appears yet but team president Mark Donovan said negotiations remain ongoing.
“We’re in discussions with a number of companies about the naming rights to Arrowhead,” Donovan said.
He reiterated that any naming rights deal would likely include the field, not the stadium. Sports Authority Field at Mile High stands as an example of what the team envisions.
“I don’t see a situation where you’re not going to have Arrowhead in the name,” Donovan said.
Arrowhead Stadium remains one of just four NFL stadiums without sold naming rights. Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Chicago’s Solider Field and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati are the others.
Donovan said the increase in NFL stadium sponsorship agreements as well as the NBA’s new jersey sponsorship program indicated the growing interest in selling naming rights for Arrowhead.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions over the years about naming rights,” Donovan said. “Every single one of those discussions have really focused on who’s the right partner. It has to make sense for Kansas City.”
DECISION NEARS ON TRAINING CAMP
The Chiefs expect a final decision on their training camp destination for the 2018 season within the next few weeks. Both Reid and Donovan spoke highly of the team’s experience in St. Joseph during Thursday’s kickoff luncheon.
“The people in St. Joe were phenomenal,” Reid said about this year’s training camp. “Missouri Western State University, they go above and beyond for us and we appreciate everything they do. All the way from the fields to the food, man, it’s beautiful.”
The Chiefs and Missouri Western State University hold mutually one-year options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. University officials indicate they wish the Chiefs to return next season.
Donovan said the team had a very good experience on campus this season.
“It’s been another really efficient camp, probably our best weather camp in our history up there,” Donovan said.
Donovan said it would be difficult for another city to pull the team away from St. Joe. The two options appear between remaining in St. Joseph or moving training camp to the team’s practice facility in Kansas City.
“They’re a great partner and we had a great experience,” Donovan said of the university. “We look forward to discussing with them the future of camp as we go forward.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.