Kansas City Chiefs' Head Coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz met with the media on Wednesday. Here are five things that stood out.
1. How different is your preparation with or without Le'Veon Bell?
REID: "That other runner (James Conner) is pretty good. He had that same situation that Eric Berry had and he has come back from it strong. He is a local kid from there. He has done a nice job for himself, made a nice niche. I don't think they are caught up in all of that from the sounds of it, and he is playing well."
2. How do you know when you are bringing a quarterback along that he has it in him to lead the team and execute your game plan and are you learning things about how he is handling games?
REID: "Absolutely on the last part. He will go through a couple years of growth and that third, fourth year, they kind of go, 'OK, we have everything in the package. Every look, motion shifts.' You go through some growth in those first two years. Probably pretty decent growth. What you are getting, though, is a smart kid who wants to be good, so he is going to get here and spend time here and watch tape. He was lucky enough to be with Alex (Smith) and see how he preps, so he knows how to do it the right way.
"Now, he has Chad (Henne) here who is kind of that same, good room for him, a young guy. That part has been good. When it really comes down to it, can he take the classroom and put it out there during a game when it is fast? That you don't know 'till you get there. And every game is a little different. He did some nice things in that area. He did some nice things at Denver. Plenty of room to grow. A ton of room to grow. And he knows it and he just attacks it. He has a unique personality. And everything is not going to be roses. He is a young guy. But if he keeps that attitude he is going to be fine."
3. How much more comfortable are you at reading the blitz than you were last year and how concerned are you with what Pittsburgh does?
MAHOMES: "I feel like I get better and better with the blitz protection every single week. It helps that we have good gameplans. Coach (Andy) Heck, EB (Eric Bieniemy) and (Mike) Kafka always give me a precise plan on how to pick up the protections and that helps me out a ton. I know Pittsburgh does a lot of that stuff, that's kind of their thing, but we've played them a lot in these last few years, and you can kind of look back at the tape of how they wanted to try to go against us and how to figure out ways to combat that."
4. Do you find that you and Tyreek Hill are here at the same time to maximize your abilities?
MAHOMES: "The weapons that we have as a whole, we really matchup against each other really well - [that's] everybody. Tyreek, of course, the speed and he can really stretch the defense, but Sammy (Watkins) can as well, Chris (Conley) can, we have a lot of speed guys that can really stretch the defense. Then having (Travis) Kelce and just being comfortable with him and him always being in the right spot. Having Kareem (Hunt), the O-line, we have the weapons to be really, really good. It's about just keep improving every single week, learning from our mistakes and keep progressing."
5. What makes Andy Reid more willing to innovate and refresh from a play calling standpoint?
SCHWARTZ: "That's a good question for him. I'm sure there is some effect of when you scout these college guys, you see offenses and you see the stuff that they are doing and what they are willing to do. Some things are different in terms of the hashes, so you get a little bit more of the field to play with when you can set something in a college hash versus a pro hash. You just see all this stuff and all these guys moving, guys all over the field, playing horizontally and you realize the stress it puts on the defense.
"You are able to put a scheme like that with players like we have, and it makes things really difficult. I think you try to find the best scheme you can and also the best players you can. And when you can combine the two at a very high level, you can see some good things. That is a huge credit to Coach to be able to mix things up and change things. Who knows how much of this stuff is just the base stuff they used to do in the 50s and 60s. I think a lot of things are cyclical. It might have been from more congested formations, but I think a lot of the base concepts are probably similar if you go back far enough and look at it. There is a lot of stuff even when you go back to the 20s and 30s, there's some crazy concepts that people are pulling out and it looks new because it is 90 years old, but it is just kind of a recycling."