KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid and Quarterback Patrick Mahomes talk playoff football during a presser Wednesday. Following are their comments.
Head Coach Andy Reid
OPENING STATEMENT: "The only person that will miss practice today is Morris Claiborne, and it's for personal reasons. It is not due to injury. Everybody else will practice. Looking forward to the challenge of playing the Texans. We know that they're a good football team, so we have to get ourselves ready. We're going to go through the process of that and get ready to play against a good football team and a great atmosphere here at Arrowhead. With that, time's yours."
Q: In your eyes, what makes a good offensive deep-passing game?
REID: "Completions (laughter). It's got to be worked, timing-wise, with the quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends – running backs in some cases. There's a ton of timing and work that goes into that. Then, practicing it, and having good players and a good quarterback."
Q: Does playing a team for the second time in a season tend to make everything easier because the players have a familiarity with the opponent?
REID: "We have that part that is familiar. They're familiar with us, we're familiar with them. So, you dig in and you study. They do a variety of things on both sides of the football, and on special teams. Whatever route they're going to go with, you have to make sure that you study it. That's the part that takes some time. Whether you know them, or you don't know them, you have to make sure that you have all of the bases covered there."
Q: With all of the injuries that this team had toward the end of the season, how fortunate are you to get guys back healthy?
REID: "This time of the year, I think that's a good thing. You're right. It's a long season. 17 weeks into it and it's good to have those guys out there and running around. That's a plus. I think (Texans Head Coach) Bill (O'Brien) would probably tell you the same thing on the other side, having his guys there is a plus. As much continuity that you can keep, you appreciate."
Q: What gives you the confidence that Mecole Hardman is ready for this type of game in the national spotlight?
REID: "First of all, he came from a major college, so he's used to playing in front of big crowds and at a high level. I'm not that worried about him in this atmosphere. I just want him to prep for the plays. Make sure that he has that down, then go play. He's got enough guys around him, either here or somewhere else, that have been in the playoffs. He's got good people that he can talk to.”
Q: How fresh is LeSean McCoy and how much do you see his role increasing now that he enters the playoffs?
REID: "We've got three good backs that we can move in and out that we feel comfortable with. Our young kid is coming along well. Between the three of them, all of them give you a different flavor, so we're good with all of them. I don't want to slight one over the other right now. All three will most likely have a chance to contribute."
Q: Eric Fisher has had some pretty good games against J.J. Watt in the past. What is it about Fisher that has really helped him build into the type of reliable player that he is, especially into the game against Watt this Sunday?
REID: "They know each other first from college. Before (Watt) transferred to Wisconsin, they were together up at Central Michigan there. They know each other. There's a battle that goes on. Because of that, it's a fun thing to watch. J.J. has gotten a few. Eric has gotten a few. It's a good battle. It will be on Sunday. But, there's that personal side of it, too, where they know each other, that makes it even better. I wouldn't say one is over the other. I think they both get after each other. If you have eyes for the O and D-line, that's a good one to watch."
Q: Do you find that there might be some form of an advantage to losing to the Texans the first time, due to the potential that since the Texans won, they might be over-confident? Or, since the Chiefs lost, there might be more motivation to prove that they're better?
REID: "Listen, I think when you're in the playoffs, and with all that, you play. You just get in and go. When you're in the moment, you're not thinking about all of that. You're thinking of winning your one-on-one battle and how you're going to do that. If you win it, you want to win it again. If you get beat on it, then you're going to come back and figure it out and get busy to do it the right way."
Q: Is there an edge for the players that didn't get to play in the Week 6 game against the Texans?
REID: "I think they all would've liked to play because it's a good football team. Now, they have an opportunity."
Q: What is your approach to preparing during a bye week for the upcoming game that has allowed you to have success in that game?
REID: "I don't know that. I don't know necessarily what other people do. I would say that I have good coaches and good players, and I think that is probably it. I don't know why that has happened. It's just one of those things, I think."
Q: With Andrew Wylie presumably healthy, does he factor right back into the lineup?
REID: "We'll see how it goes during the week. Wis (Stefen Wisniewski) did a nice job the last time he was in. We're comfortable with either guy, obviously."
Q: What are some of the finer details that you notice in players that have past playoff experience?
REID: "You understand that the game is faster. It is hard to explain that, but there's a certain urgency that comes with it. Not that the guys aren't playing hard, that's not what it is. It's just a step up. And every level that you take in the playoffs, they're just that much faster – the game is."
Q: Is that something that is difficult to coach and explain? Or, is it something that you have to experience on the field to know it?
REID: "Yeah, but that doesn't mean that you can't be successful at it. You just have to know it and then take it to heart. Then, go about your work during the week that way."
Q: In your experience, what did your former assistant coaches learn by going on head coaching interviews? What positives did they pick up from those experiences?
REID: "They can learn a ton about other organizations and how they're run, and expectations there. That either gives them another opportunity down the road or something that they can file away for whether it's this year or the following year."
Q: How many times have you had an assistant go on these interviews and come back and communicate to you that they benefited from the experience?
REID: "Every time that they have an opportunity to do it, they've learned. It's just whatever flavor that the ownership or general manager wants. They have a choice. They have this wide pool that they pick from."
Q: How similar is the play-calling mechanism that you use now compared to years past?
REID: "Same basic thing. E.B. (Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy) gets the plays to the quarterback. He and I talk. We formulate in-between series what we're going to call, and we go with it."
Q: What tells you that Patrick Mahomes is more prepared for playoff football now compared to last season?
REID: "I think it's just experience, in general. Last year, it was a whirlwind, you could probably say, coming in as a second-year guy that didn't play much his first year. Getting used to the speed, the defenses, all of those things of the game, then upping that when you get into the playoffs, was one more thing. That's where the experience helps you a little bit."
Q: Since the Week 6 game, did you ever get a clarification from the league on the non-pass interference call against Travis Kelce?
REID: "I did, yes."
Q: Were you satisfied with that?
REID: "Unless you're going to pay it for me, I'm just going to kind of let that one go (laughter)."
Q: Going back, did it take you long to get the feel for the speed of a playoff game?
REID: "You have to be on your game. But that's the part you love. The questions about the players or coaches, this is what we do. We're fortunate to be in this position and you love that opportunity. You know that it doesn't happen every year. So, when you're there, it's the ultimate challenge. Let's go."
Q: When did you feel that you had a confident understanding of how the playoff games go?
REID: "That was a long time ago, so I'm not sure. I don't know that. That's a good question, I just don't know the answer."
Q: What is it going to be like for Khalen Saunders this Sunday, coming from a smaller college and getting to play in an NFL playoff game?
REID: "I think with his personality, if you know him, I don't think that is going to bother him. He is as upbeat of a guy, and he is very smart. He is that fun-loving guy that brings energy to a room and that whole deal. I don't think that is going to be a problem for him. I don't foresee that."
Q: How do you prepare your players to face a team that has shown the ability to bounce back from a deficit?
REID: "You have to play four quarters of football. You know that. You have to do it during the season. If you look at stats over the years in playoff games, the margin between the winning and losing is even more narrow than what it was during the regular season. You've got to make sure that you're sharp on all of the different situations that you come across. Your two-minute situations and all of those things become prevalent, even more magnified than they are during the regular season."
Q: What type of growth have you seen in Mahomes this year, particularly with the self-scouting that he has conducted?
REID: "I've loved it because the second year is a tough year for quarterbacks. It's a tough, tough year. These guys, there are some great minds in the National Football League that are coaching the defensive side of the ball. They have a whole offseason to study it and they're going to come back with their absolute best against you. He answered it. He did it through some adversity, like you're saying with injuries. Whatever it might be, he didn't flinch. He kept the same attitude, the same work ethic. He went after it. He had a major injury that he pushed through, where the coaches, the trainers and the doctors all had to back him off. That mindset is important in this day and age of football. It's an important thing to have, especially in a leadership position."
Q: For Charvarius Ward to build that type of confidence in his play over the past two seasons, how important is that at his position going into the playoffs?
REID: "He's a smart kid. He is quiet, but he is a smart kid. For him, I thought it was just the more reps that he got, the more things that he saw. He's a bigger kid, too, so he has to play it a little bit different way than the smaller, quick-twitch guys. He's a little bit longer than that, like some of the corners in this league. They just have to play it a little different and be able to read and see things and react to that. I think that's where he has gotten better."
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Q: Does it feel different going into the playoffs this year than last year?
MAHOMES: “For me, I think the only thing that is really different is having the experience. Being able to play in games like this at Arrowhead and being able to win one and lose one. I understand that every single play counts, how much every single rep in practice counts and how you have to take advantage of every single opportunity that you get.”
Q: People talk about the change in pace of playoff games, was there a moment last year where you felt that?
MAHOMES: “You can feel it in pregame warmups. You can feel the intensity and how much faster everyone is moving around and how much every play counts. You get out there in warmups and you feel that energy and you have to make sure you maintain and can find a way to do whatever it is to put your team in a better situation every single play.”
Q: What is your opinion of the success that Coach Reid is known for coming off Bye weeks and how does he prepare you guys so well?
MAHOMES: “I think he does a good job of letting us heal our bodies but at the same time keeping us in that same rhythm and that same thing that we have going all season long. He has a good feel for it, understands how to make sure our heads are still in it and we’re still preparing for the next game even if we don’t know necessarily who we’re playing. At the same time, we’re healing our bodies and making sure that we’re able to play fast when we get there. That’s something that he’s really mastered as he’s gotten his coaching experience throughout the years.”
Q: When you think back to that Week Six game, where are you health-wise compared to that point in the season?
MAHOMES: “Obviously the ankle thing has felt better and better as the season has gone on and I’ve been able to heal that up. Going out there I feel like I’ll still be able to move and do all the similar types of things that I know banged it around that game. Going in definitely feeling good and ready to play a football game.”
Q: How much easier is the process when you’ve already faced a team in the season since you aren’t starting from scratch?
MAHOMES: “It’s better when you can understand each and every player and kind of what they do and what things they are really good at and what things they don’t do as well. You’re able to kind of figure out exactly how you want to attack. Obviously, this defense has a lot of really good football players on it, so we know it’s going to be a challenge. We’re just excited for the opportunity to go out there and play against one of the best football teams at this time of the year.”
Q: During the bye week you have time to reflect on yourself, what did you learn about yourself going into the playoffs and things you can improve upon?
MAHOMES: “I think it’s just keep getting better at what we’re doing. I think we’ve done a good job of keeping it balanced at running, throwing or whatever it is. The screen game or really everything. Just doing what we can to keep the offense rolling and I think if we keep majoring on the details and focusing in on it then we can keep putting up points when we need to.”
Q: When you watched the games on Saturday, how many times did you think it was going to be a different team? What was your Saturday like watching the games?
MAHOMES: “I didn’t really focus on who it was going to be. We got a little lucky because the Patriots and Houston play similar schemes and then I watched a little bit of Buffalo last week as well. I just try to keep myself with just a broad base of who we’re going to play. Luckily, I watched a good amount of Houston and we got them, so I was able to focus in on that as I came into the facility the next day and as the week has gone on.”
Q: When you look back at what the Texans did last week compared to when you played them, how much different did they look in your eyes?
MAHOMES: “I think they do a good job of making specific game plans for teams. Versus us they did it one way and they do it different versus another team. I think the biggest thing is getting out there early in the game and figuring out what their game plan is and finding ways to execute against it. I think Coach Reid’s done a good job building a game plan where we’re able to do those things.”
Q: What did you feel after the aftermath of last year’s loss to the Patriots and when were you able to move on from that?
MAHOMES: “Anytime you lose and you’re that close, you don’t feel good. You’re not going to be happy with the season. As you look back on it, you understand the experiences that you got and I’m going to use those experiences to go out there and find a way to keep playing. We understand it’s a day by day process. You have to execute every single day and be the best player you can be every single day. From practice to meetings to whatever it is so that when you get to those games, you can execute at a high level and try to just keep playing.”
Q: When you came off the field do you remember what you felt or observed as you went into the locker room?
MAHOMES: “That stuff that you have any time you end a season, no matter what level you’re at. When you’re that close, you want to make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get back. We’ve done that this year. We’re in the playoffs. We understand we’re still far away from our ultimate goal, but it’s a day by day process. It’s not something you can do on one weekend or one game.”
Q: Some guys in the locker room have led to the idea there may be some plays to be used in the playoffs that haven’t been used yet, how intriguing is that to be able to do that?
MAHOMES: “Coach Reid does a good job of having new plays every single week it seems like. When we work on stuff, even if we don’t use it, we’re able to carry it on to the next week and find ways to execute it versus different defenses. I think that’s a great thing to have at this point in the season. You can still do stuff that teams can’t scout for and do stuff that you can hopefully have success with against those defenses.”
Q: You played a long stretch without Eric Fisher, how valuable is it to have a veteran like that to block your blindside especially against a guy like J.J. Watt?
MAHOMES: “Definitely. Fish (Eric Fisher) has been playing at a high level for a long time now and he’s played against a lot of different defensive ends that are really good. Like you said, J.J. Watt is a heck of a player and someone who has done it for a long time as well. Just being able to have someone that you know has been able to go out there and compete with the best and hold his own, is definitely something that gives you a lot of trust to stay in the pocket to make those throws.”
Q: Do you have to build a relationship with the left tackle as far as them understanding what you’re going to do in the pocket and where they need to be to work around that?
MAHOMES: “I try to build a relationship with all those guys. Those are the guys that are protecting you, so I want to make sure I know exactly what they’re thinking and how they’re going about their business. Obviously, you want to make sure you’re protected back there and able to run the offense the way it’s supposed to be ran.”
Q: When you went ones vs. ones against your own defense at the beginning of the season, how different is it facing them now?
MAHOMES: “You get to see all the different schemes and stuff they’re doing. Obviously, they don’t game plan for us, but you get to see the different looks and how the quarterbacks have to combat that. I’m glad I’m not playing against them, I’ll say that.”
Q: Tyrann Mathieu has mentioned “Championship Swagger” and it seems to have bled into the offense as well, how much do you think the team has bought into it?
MAHOMES: “It’s a mentality. That’s the biggest thing. You aren’t going to be feeling the best. You aren’t going to be in your perfect, tip top shape, but you have to have that mentality that every single day you’re going to try to be great. I feel like with this team with Tyrann and with Frank (Clark) and the offensive guys like Travis (Kelce) and Tyreek (Hill), we’ve built this mentality that every single day we’re going to go out there and be the best players we can be.”
Q: You got to watch Frank Clark go through his setback and injuries, from your vantage point of what you have gone through with injuries, what is it like to see him persevere through that?
MAHOMES: “It’s been awesome to see him come on as of late as he’s gotten healthy and seeing him do the things he normally does. Last year playing against him, I understood that he’s a good football player that’s always around the quarterback. You’ve seen him go throughout the season and he’s had his things or whatever it is and now he’s healthy and you can see how he can really impact the football game. I understand that our defense is all coming into their own now and really impacting the game. We’re going to try to do our part as an offense to try to win football games.”
Q: How long did the anger phase of losing the AFC Championship last year last?
MAHOMES: “I think it wasn’t until after the Super Bowl. It kind of went away then you watch the Super Bowl and you’re like ‘Man, I wish we were in that game,’ and then I kind of went back to working out to get my body in the best shape possible and trying to prepare to be in moments like we will be in this weekend.”
Q: What do you see from Deshaun Watson from the last time you played him to even last week in their playoff game?
MAHOMES: “If you’ve watched Deshaun Watson since college and I’m sure even since high school, they’re never out of a game. He’s someone that can make big plays happen no matter what the scenario is. He’s going to fight until the end. You know that going into the game and you know that coming in as an offense and as a defense and as a team that you have to make sure you’re on top of it all game long. It’s going to be a 60-minute fight or even longer, whatever it takes. You have to make sure you come in with that mentality that you’re going to play your best football every single snap.”
Q: What are your expectations going to be like of the atmosphere? What’s your message to fans and the mentality they need to bring on Sunday?
MAHOMES: “I don’t even have to say it. They’re going to be there and they’re going to be loud. The atmosphere is going to be amazing and we’ll be able to enjoy it. We’re going to go out there and play our best football and try to find a way to get a win. I’m sure that crowd will be a big help in that.”
Q: What do you see from Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson and you as the new class of young quarterbacks in the AFC?
MAHOMES: “Obviously, it’s exciting you’re getting to play guys that you’ve seen around as you’ve gone through the recruiting cycle or being in college and now in the NFL. You understand they’re good football players and they have really good football teams. You just want to be in this part of the season and play for something. I’m excited to have a team around me and we’re going to go out there and play our best football and hopefully win.”
Q: Do you feel any of the weight of those guys not being here in this part of the season (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger)?
MAHOMES: “Not necessarily. For me, it’s all the same mentality no matter who it is. We have to go out there and do what we do as an offense and as a team in order to win. We understand the challenge is going to be high but we’re going to go still play our best football.”
Q: To have success throwing the ball down the field, what is the success part for you? Is it the feel or the timing?
MAHOMES: “I think the biggest thing is knowing when to take your shots and when to kind of go for the big play. It obviously helps that I have really fast guys running routes for me and that can go out and catch the ball. Just being on the same page with those guys and giving them chances to make plays.”