KANSAS CITY, Mo. – If experience really matters, the Chiefs are in good shape.
Despite having one of the league’s youngest teams (26 average age), the current Chiefs roster has played in 60 combined playoff games with 28 starts, giving the team a roster with battle-tested veterans.
And that certainly doesn’t hurt as the Chiefs prepare to meet the Indianapolis Colts in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend.
“I think it’s helpful if you’ve been there,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during Tuesday’s media session. “That doesn’t mean that you can’t be functional if you haven’t been there. It really comes down that you prepare yourself right.
“At this stage you respect everybody; they’re all good football teams that are playing this weekend. But you go in and you study, you study the opponent, you study the game plan and you go in and get yourself right, whether you’re a veteran or new to the playoffs.”
Reid may not have to worry ensuring his players know how to prepare for the postseason, as the Chiefs also have 15 players who have appeared in multiple playoff games.
Leading the charge are four first-year Chiefs.
Safety Quintin Demps appeared in seven playoff games between the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans; defensive end Mike DeVito appeared in six, starting three, all with the New York Jets; cornerback Dunta Robinson started four playoff games with the Atlanta Falcons; and linebacker Akeem Jordan started three with the Eagles.
Additionally, the Chiefs have 14 players on the current roster who were on the 2010 playoff team, including running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and outside linebacker Tamba Hali, among others.
And of course, quarterback Alex Smith has playoff experience from the San Francisco 49ers.
Having familiarity, especially players with multiple playoff games under their belts, offers a perspective for the younger players who haven’t played a postseason game.
And veterans have used their experiences to pass knowledge to others surrounding what to expect.
“We’ve been talking about it now for a couple of weeks, what it’s going to be like, just sharing about the speed of the game, how everything ramps up,” DeVito said. “We just continue to share that. That’s all you can really say is how much more exciting, the speed and all that stuff picks up.”
Demps echoed DeVito, adding he’s told teammates to enjoy the moment.
“We’ve been preaching it for a while, kind of cherish this opportunity because it’s hard to get back to this point,” Demps said. “Once you get there, you got to really cherish it, buckle down and sacrifice.”
Robinson said his message to his younger teammates surrounds avoiding the distractions that come with the postseason.
The 10th-year pro said it’s understandable to be excited, but the biggest way to combat the distractions is to get the jitters out early and rely on the preparation leading to the game.
“You make sure the distraction is focus,” Robinson said. “If you’re going to be distracted by anything, be distracted by how you prepare. Make sure you’re prepared when you go out on the field. That’s going to be the biggest difference.”
When it comes to playoff preparations this week, Demps offers a shared experience with Reid.
Demps, who played on Reid’s 2008 and 2009 Philadelphia Eagles teams that went to the postseason, said the playoff philosophy Reid has impressed on the Chiefs hasn’t deviated from his days in Philadelphia.
In fact, it’s identical to what the Chiefs have adopted the entire season.
“It’s pretty much the same approach,” Demps said. “You want to go 1-0 every week, take it one game at a time, prepare and stay focused.”
The Chiefs have used that stance en route to an 11-5 record and the No. 5 seed.
And regardless what happens the rest of the way, Chiefs players know they can lean on each other in the days leading to Saturday.
“We have a great group of guys, guys that are going to stick together,” DeVito said. “That was the one thing that we had in New York is everybody gelled.
“I have not seen a team gel in my seven years like I have this year. This is a family here. I know everybody talks about it, but it truly is, so I think that’s what’s really going to make a difference playing these road games.”