KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The enormity of Saturday’s 45-44 implosion sunk in during Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s end-of-season presser.
“As far as yesterday goes, it’s final,” Reid told reporters Sunday. “It hits you just like you get hit upside the head with a bat. It hits you hard and it should hit you hard.”
Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid on the sidelines during the first quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
For the Chiefs, the way the season ended needs to hit hard.
The Chiefs had a remarkable season in Reid’s first year as a head coach following his inheritance of a team that finished 2-14 in 2012.
Under Reid, the Chiefs started 9-0; produced eight Pro Bowlers; produced two first-team All-Pro selections, three second-team All-Pro selections; and establish an NFL single-season record for highest kickoff return average with 29.9 yards this season, among other notable items.
But for all the good of the 2013 NFL season, arguably the most memorable aspect of the campaign will be Saturday’s monumental collapse.
The Chiefs inexplicably blew a 38-10 third-quarter lead, eventually allowing 35 second-half points to the Indianapolis Colts, resulting in the second-largest postseason comeback in NFL history.
“You’ve worked very hard and put a lot of hours into getting to this point and then for it to be that sudden, for the way that the game played out, I don’t think as players and coaches (we) feel that it was acceptable,” Reid said. “When you have a lead like that, you have to finish it and take care of business there.”
Offseason means free agency
It’s the time of year for NFL teams no longer in contention for the Super Bowl to shift attention to improving rosters.
The offseason offers the NFL Draft and free agency as tools to accomplish that goal, but the latter also means the Chiefs will lose some players.
“No team stays the same, players and/or coaches,” Reid told reporters. “We have free agents on this team, who comes back; it’s too soon to tell on that.
“I really don’t have information on that for you either. We just know that things happen in this league and there are changes that take place.”
Some of the bigger changes, depending on what the Chiefs do, will occur on the offensive line.
Left tackle Branden Albert played under the franchise designation this season. He’s a prime candidate to hit the open market if the team is comfortable with moving Eric Fisher to the left side and inserting Donald Stephenson on the right side.
Additionally, guard Jon Asamoah and guard/tackle Geoff Schwartz are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this year.
Defensively, safeties Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps and Husain Abdullah are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
The Chiefs also have a decision to make on defensive end Tyson Jackson, who turned in a productive season, and wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, who comes off a Pro Bowl season.
Maintaining the status quo
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will likely take some heat for the way his defense dissolved from one of the league’s best during the first nine games to one of the worst down the stretch.
Of course, Sutton’s unit suffered from the injuries to outside linebacker Justin Houston (elbow) and outside linebacker Tamba Hali (knee).
Unfortunately, even their presence didn’t make a difference Saturday when they were needed the most during the Colts’ furious comeback.
Instead, a shell-shocked secondary continued to give up big play after big play, punctuated when Colts quarterback Andrew Luck found wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who got behind safeties Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps on the game-winning 64-yard touchdown pass.
But before any controversy starts over staff changes – whether because Reid wants them or due to a different opportunity – Reid’s response left no ambiguity.
“No, there won’t be changes on the staff,” Reid said. “No.”
Unlike the prior regime, Reid has made it a point to connect with fans and often mentioned their support during postgame pressers or during his first presser of game week.
The good will continued in his final media session of the season.
“I would like to just thank the fans for the great support in which they gave our football team and their football team this season,” Reid said.
Reid has been on record throughout the season surrounding his amazement on how visible the Chiefs fans are for road games.
Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium wasn’t different, as there was a strong showing of red throughout the stadium clearly visible from the press box.
Striving for greatness
“We shoot for Super Bowls,” Reid told reporters. “We’re not shooting to be a good football team; we’re shooting to be a great football team.”
Asked by a reporter how close the Chiefs are to achieving the goal, Reid said there’s a fine line between winning and losing.
He added the answer to the question depends on what the team produces on the field.
“I would tell you it’s a fine line, it’s a fine line between being good and great,” Reid said. “You have to be able to step it up a notch to get there. How do you measure that? You measure that obviously by production.”
Ultimately, NFL teams categorized as great through the Super Bowl era have one thing in common – Super Bowl wins.
But in order to obtain a championship, the Chiefs have to first put an end to a playoff winless drought since Jan. 16, 1994.
“We’ll get past it,” Reid said of the Chiefs’ postseason history. “We’re going to fight our tail off to make sure that not only do we get past that, but we get a championship here. Anything less, that’s not what we’re striving for.”
Reid took a moment to offer gratitude to the media present during Sunday’s presser.
“I know you don’t have an easy job, I got it,” Reid said. “Every day is not a bed of roses for you, I got that, too. But I do appreciate you bearing with me.”
Unfortunately, the Chiefs held Reid’s end-of-season presser when a large amount of beat writers, who cover the team on a daily basis, were either stuck in Indianapolis due to inclement weather or driving through the snow en route to Kansas City.
Still, it’s nice to be thought of.
Notes: Reid didn’t have updates on running back Jamaal Charles (concussion), cornerback Brandon Flowers (concussion), wide receiver Donnie Avery (concussion), linebacker Justin Houston (leg) and running back Knile Davis (knee) … “The guys are going through their physicals now, their exit physicals,” Reid said.