INDIANAPOLIS — Chiefs head coach Andy Reid appeared at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, and much of the attention focused on new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his staff.
“All the coaches he's been familiar with and worked with in most cases, so that is a positive, Reid said of Spagnuolo's group of position coaches. “We feel fortunate we were able to get the coaches we did. Most of them had pretty decent jobs there with good teams.”
The Chiefs believe that continuity and comfort should pay dividends as Spagnuolo aims to retool a defense that ranked 24th in the league last year in allowing 26.3 points per game.
“That's all part of it,” Reid said. “They can hit the ground running as opposed to having go through all the terminology, all the rhetorical stuff you have to go through. They're just hitting it fast and furious.”
Reid Banking on Friendship with Spagnuolo
One of the first hires Reid made as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was hiring Spagnuolo as a defensive assistant, but the friendship between the two extends back to their days on the college coaching sidelines. Reid is counting on that familiarity in developing a symbiotic relationship between the club's offense and defense.
“He kind of knows how I roll with offense, and I know how he rolls with defense,” Reid said.
Spagnuolo sat out last season after the New York Giants passed on him for their head coaching position. He entertained offers from other clubs, but found no role fitting his interest.
“I talked to him throughout it, not knowing we where going to hire him or anything else, but just because we're friends,” Reid said. “He was anxious to get back in, wherever that might be, it happened to work out for us.”
Reid believes the comfort level between himself and Spagnuolo can play an important role in the Chiefs developing a defensive style that complements its high-octane offense.
“I think the end result needs to be complementary where both sides play well, and that's the best thing,” Reid said. “He's going to strive. He's not striving for, 'OK, we're going to be in the midpoint of the league on defense.' He's striving to be the best he possibly can on the defensive side.
Chiefs Would “Love” to Re-Sign Chris Conley
Chris Conley enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent after bouncing back from a season-ending Achilles rupture in 2017. Conley played in all 16 games with 13 starts last year, hauling in 32 catches for 334 yards and career-best five touchdowns.
“We'd love to have him back, but who knows how that goes,” Reid said.
If Conley doesn't return to the fold, Demarcus Robinson appears in line to benefit from his departure. Robinson turned in his best season of his three-year career in 2018, catching 22 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns.
“Robinson had a pretty good year for us when he had opportunities to play,” Reid said.
Depth from Veteran Free Agents
The Chiefs signed four free agents last week, including former Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel and Pittsburgh wide receiver Sammie Coates. The club also signed former San Francisco cornerback Dontae Johnson and wide receiver Davon Grayson, who spent time with club last summer.
Reid said Manuel look sharp in his workout with the club, and he likes what the veteran brings to the team's quarterback room as an experienced arm.
“That’s a room where they’re a lot of things exposed offensively and so you want to make sure you have the right personalities in there,” Reid said. “I thought EJ fit into that. I think he’ll be a nice addition. He’s a pro. He’s got a good reputation throughout the league with the teams he’s been with.”
Reid sees an upside to giving the veteran free agents a chance to show they belong in the league.
“Depth players, opportunities with these guys to maybe show and see what they can do,” Reid said. “It adds strength to our football team.”
Adding Another Quarterback?
The Chiefs certainly aren't in the market for a starting quarterback. The addition of Manuel gives the club four quarterbacks on the roster with veteran Chad Henne and 2018 rookie free agent Chase Litton behind Patrick Mahomes.
But Reid never rules out adding another young quarterback via the draft or rookie free agency.
“We’ve always brought in a young guy just about every year that I’ve been doing this thing,” Reid said. “So you look at everybody. Are you
going to draft them in the first round? Probably not. Sure keep your eyes open, for sure.”
Everyone is looking for speed and quickness, which Reid says makes both important when evaluating prospects. But there's one ability he says separates the best players from the crowd.
“If you're fast and you can't change direction, you're not going to do very well in this league,” Reid said.