Amid the hype and emotion surrounding Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia this week, the veteran coach is doing his best to focus only on making sure the Kansas City Chiefs remain unbeaten.
Facing the Eagles for the first time since they fired him after 14 years as coach, Reid looks to guide the Chiefs to a 3-0 start Thursday night.
After leading Philadelphia to nine playoff appearances, six NFC East titles, five conference championship games and a Super Bowl berth, it’s likely Reid will be consumed by plenty of emotions when he sets foot on Lincoln Financial Field. However, at least publicly, Reid is more concerned with preparing his new team on a short week to face an Eagles squad that has scored 63 points while starting 1-1.
“In this business you’re focused in on getting your team ready to play,” Reid told the Chiefs’ official website. “That’s where my energy is going to go. I haven’t really thought about that other part at all. I don’t necessarily plan on thinking about that. I want to make sure I concentrate on the game at hand and anything else becomes a distraction, and I’m not going to let that happen.
“Every coach tells you these Thursday nights, it’s a quick turnaround, and you just have to go. It’s something you have to do. You buckle down and make sure you get it done.”
After falling 33-30 at home to San Diego on Sunday, the Eagles are also sticking to the company line of focusing on the game and not Reid’s return, which comes on the same night former quarterback Donovan McNabb’s No. 5 jersey will be retired.
“It’s just another football game,” said Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, who has thrown for 631 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions while posting the NFL’s third-highest passer rating at 119.0. “We have to get ready, we can’t focus on the whole dynamic of the situation. We have a football game to prepare for, and we have to do everything to ensure that we have a chance to win the football game. That is what is most important. It’s our third game in 11 days, but we’re conditioned for it.
“We’re ready for it.”
Vick and his teammates understand that these are not the same Chiefs who went 2-14 in 2012.
“Most of these guys are from last year and the taste we had in our mouths last year, nobody ever wants to feel that again,” Kansas City defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. “Everybody’s focused. Everybody is working hard and making sure that don’t happen.”
Kansas City, which last started 3-0 in 2010, trailed Dallas by six in the third quarter Sunday before Alex Smith hit Dwayne Bowe with a go-ahead 12-yard TD in a 17-16 victory.
Smith has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Defensively, the Chiefs have allowed one touchdown and recorded nine sacks, but they face a daunting task this week.
Under Reid’s replacement Chip Kelly, Philadelphia’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense has totaled 954 yards and seven touchdowns. LeSean McCoy has rushed for 237 yards on 42 carries and gained 119 on six receptions.
A rib injury limited receiver DeSean Jackson to 45 receptions, 700 yards and two TDs in 11 games in 2012, but he has caught 16 balls for 297 and matched that touchdown total this year.
“We’ve studied them a lot in the offseason,” Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “We’ve been grinding since (Sunday) night. I don’t think the problem will be seeing it; the problem will be getting the plan in and executing it.”
Some questionable clock management late in Philadelphia’s loss Sunday proved Kelly is learning on the job.
His offense continued running the hurry-up on their tying drive late in the fourth quarter that featured three straight incomplete passes taking up 14 seconds. After Alex Henery’s 32-yard field goal tied it at 30, Philip Rivers had plenty of time to march the Chargers 51 yards to set up Nick Novak’s go-ahead 46-yarder with 7 seconds remaining.
“Could we have (run more of a ball-controlled offense)? Sure,” Kelly said. “But we wouldn’t have scored a lot of points. So you’re in a Catch-22. We were behind, so you’ve got to try to score to get back into the game, and you can play that game and say, ‘Hey, let’s work the clock here a little bit.’ But if you start handcuffing our offense, then we may not have scored enough points to make it even a tied game, so now you’re playing the other way.”
Philadelphia has won three straight against Kansas City, most recently 34-14 at home in 2009. Jackson caught six passes for 149 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown from Kevin Kolb. Tight end Brent Celek had eight catches for 104 yards with a score and McCoy rushed for 84 yards and a TD.