Reid Believes Character is Developing

Chiefs coach Andy Reid feels the adversity this team has faced this season is building character

Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. That pretty much sums up the Chiefs season after three games.

The Chiefs opened up the season against the Tennessee Titans and struggled after losing two of their key defensive players in linebacker Derrick Johnson and lineman Mike DeVito.

They also lost one of their most versatile offensive lineman in that game in Jeff Allen, who had moved over to right tackle from left guard position after Donald Stephenson's suspension.

They lost 26-10 to the Titans and looked like a team that needed to find themselves after losing some of their leaders.

Fast forward another week and running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry, two of the best in the NFL at their respective positions, both left the Broncos game in the first quarter with injuries.

The Chiefs, who had already coped with the loss of Johnson, DeVito and Allen the week before, handled the loss of Charles and Berry better and took the Broncos down to the wire.

Ultimately falling short against the Broncos by a score of 24-17 in Denver, Chiefs coach Andy Reid's team showed the kind of grit and determination fans should expect to see from them on a weekly basis.

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"They're developing a certain character there," Reid said. "Sometimes, you have to go through some tough times to develop that but they're playing hard and that's a good foundation to start with.

On Sunday against the Dolphins, the Chiefs followed up their performance against the Broncos with a significant 34-15 victory on the road in Miami. The grit and determination shown against the Broncos wasn't a fluke. This was a team ready to compete with whoever the "next man up" might be for them.

Against the Dolphins, the Chiefs received more than 200 yards and four touchdowns worth of production from their running backs as a whole, which doesn't include Charles as he sat out with an ankle injury.

Running backs Knile Davis, Joe McKnight and Cyrus Gray accepted the responsibility of rushing the ball 41 times to just 25 passes on Sunday, shouldering the offensive responsibility and leading the Chiefs to their first victory of the season.

As a whole, the Chiefs offense succeeded in key areas.

They converted 9 of 16 third downs, which came against a defense that only allowed 10 of 32 conversions on third down coming into this game.

In the red zone, where the Chiefs were only 3 of 6 through their first two games on getting touchdowns there, they got into the end zone on all three of their opportunities.

"I think red zone and those third downs, those were kind of big," Reid said on Monday. "Normally if you don't do well in those two spots, you come up short from an offensive standpoint. We did well the week before on third down, not as well on red zone.

"This week, we were able to do OK there. We had some nice plays and had some guys between Joe (McKnight) and (Travis) Kelce and Alex (Smith) that worked that out."

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When the field constricts inside the red zone and there's not as much space for the offense, the play of the guys up front along the offensive line gets magnified.

"I thought we played good, hard, aggressive football," Reid said of the offensive line. "Anytime your runners can run like they ran, your offensive line has to be doing a good job and they did that."

But the character of this team, which had dealt with their fair share of adversity already this season, was never more present than during the second offensive drive of the second half.

Holding a 14-3 lead at halftime, the Chiefs offense got the ball to begin the second half.

After two Davis runs that accumulated just two yards, quarterback Alex Smith was sacked and fumbled the ball away to the Dolphins.

Just like that, the Dolphins were given a gift: the ball in the red zone. They took advantage of it by scoring a touchdown just five plays later.

Tannehill threw a 1-yard touchdown to receiver Brian Hartline, which brought the score closer at 14-10.

The momentum had shifted back to the Dolphins and the team that had faced so much adversity already this season suddenly found their backs against the walls again.

But a 10-play, 66-yard touchdown drive from the Chiefs offense was the response.

They fought back with two third down conversions, one of seven yards and one of eight yards to go. Four of the last five plays on that drive went for at least 10 yards, and the drive culminated with a 11-yard touchdown pass to McKnight, his first of two on the day.

Photos from the Chiefs week three match up against the Miami Dolphins.

Smith, who had fumbled the ball just moments before, accepted the challenge of answering back by leading the Chiefs offense down the field.

"I thought that was big," Reid said of the drive. "You can feel the momentum swing the other way, you want to try to pull it back and get it going in your direction and I think we were able to do that so I would tell you that was a positive."

Reid understands what having a quarterback like Smith does for this team.

"He calms these situations that seem a little chaotic," Reid said. "He just calms it right down and keeps it right and that's hard to find and we're very lucky to have him in Kansas City."

Smith was sacked five times in this game, four of which came on blitzes from the Dolphins defense.

Altogether, the Dolphins sent five or more guys at Smith 12 times in the game, which resulted in four sacks, but Smith also completed 6 of 8 passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the time.

While taking a blitz and surrendering a negative play can't be drawn up as a positive, the results could have been worse if Smith tried to force those throws.

"Sometimes sacks can be a good thing in that area," Reid said. "If it's going to happen as opposed to forcing it and throwing an interception—sometimes you have to eat it there and I think come back the next time and do a little better."

The Chiefs offense was efficient and explosive.

Smith finished 19 of 25 for 186 yards with three touchdowns, and the Chiefs offense had 14 plays that went for at least 10 yards.

The Chiefs offense showed plenty of strength against the Dolphins on Sunday, relying on a running game featured by Knile Davis. On the day, Davis carried the ball 32 times for 132 yards, both career highs for him.

"I've just been paying attention to everything Jamaal (Charles) does," Davis said after the game. "He's an excellent teacher, an excellent football player. I just had confidence coming in from [the Denver game], that kind of rolled over into this game and there was no doubt in my mind I could fill the role."

Character of the individual and displayed by the team as a whole, the Chiefs are trending upward and displaying the kind of character development that can only be obtained by going through adversity together as a team.

The Chiefs head home next to face the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, where Chiefs Kingdom can once again show the world why Arrowhead Stadium has the mystique that it does.

If fans can show the same kind of grit and determination we've seen from the players over the past two weeks, the Patriots will have even more to deal with on Monday night.

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