Flanny’s Five: Chiefs’ Reid believed this was a playoff team from the start
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A look at five issues surrounding the current state of the Chiefs as they prepare to face the Colts in the playoffs Saturday:
KNEW IT ALL ALONG
Chiefs coach Andy Reid inherited a 2-14 team that probably in its wildest dreams couldn’t have imagined winning 11 games and getting into the playoffs this season.
But Reid, with a completely straight face, said he knew right from the start it was possible, perhaps even likely, that the Chiefs would make the playoffs.
"I believed, yeah," Reid said. "I think that’s important that you believe. You have to have the trust. If you don’t believe in your guys and what you’re trying to accomplish, you’re never going to accomplish anything. I’m all in.
"I was all in then and I’m all in now."
And does Reid remember his very first speech to the team?
"I do," he said, smiling. "But I can’t tell you it was all that exciting of a speech. I just said I would be honest with them — that was the main thing. And I said, ‘Let’s all work hard — all of us, coaches and players — and detail our work.’
"That was the base of it."
You never quite know what will come out of the mouth of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. And it’s usually 50-50 whether what he says will actually make the slightest sense at all.
Such was the case again this week when Bowe was asked about the importance of this playoff game.
His response: "I’m just ready to go. You know games like this, big-time players (show up) in big-time games. These are the games that I mostly show up in, (the ones) with everything on the line."
Granted, there haven’t really been many "big-time" games here during Bowe’s career. But one stands out: the 30-7 playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens after the 2010 season.
In that big-time game, Bowe had zero catches for zero yards. He wasn’t even targeted, which, to be fair to him, had a lot to do with the Ravens’ double-covering him that day. But other "big-time" receivers in the league get double-teamed, too, and still find a way to catch a few passes.
Don’t expect the Chiefs to come up with a completely new game plan with all kinds of trick plays in an attempt to shock or surprise the Colts.
Reid already has indicated that the Chiefs won’t change their identity and that their game plan won’t look all that different from the one employed two weeks ago against the Colts.
"There will be a different wrinkle, here and there," he said. "They (the Colts) will do the same. But it’s basically the same (plays)."
The difference, Reid hopes, is that the Chiefs will execute much better than they did in the 23-7 loss at Arrowhead. That hope especially holds true for the Chiefs’ defense, which had numerous coverage breakdowns in the first meeting.
"When you see stuff like that, like little minor errors, you look at it and are like, ‘No man, that wasn’t happening like that, was it?’ " safety Kendrick Lewis said. "We just need to challenge ourselves and challenge the brother next to you and say, ‘Hey, let’s get back to what we do, what we know how to do best."
While there has been much pregame talk about the return of Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston, another key, again, will be how well the Chiefs’ offense can contain Colts elite pass rusher Robert Mathis.
Mathis led the NFL with 19 1/2 sacks, and he had one sack and four tackles against the Chiefs in their first meeting.
While left tackle Branden Albert will resume his left tackle position, Donald Stephenson will shift to right tackle, replacing rookie Eric Fisher, who officially was listed as out because of shoulder and groin injuries.
Albert knows the challenge ahead.
"Right now he’s Number One in the league," Albert said. "(It’s) the energy level he has. Most guys that are pass rushers only rush the passer. But he plays run and pass and he plays with a lot of energy and with a lot of vigor. You have to be prepared and know what you’re getting yourself into. You know it’s one of those games that you’re going to be fighting all game."
The Chiefs have benefited all season from great special teams play, and they obviously need that trend to continue Saturday.
And that must start with kicker Ryan Succop, who must forget about the missed 41-yard try last week that would have beat the Chargers at the end of regulation.
Special teams coach Dave Toub says he has faith in Succop.
"We have confidence in him," Toub said. "We’ve seen it in practice. Yes, that was an important kick and he knows he needs to make those and get everyone’s confidence. He just needs to make some kicks in a row here now. The ones coming in the playoffs are critical."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.