What We Learned From Wednesday's Media Availability

Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, Quarterback Alex Smith and Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill spoke with the media on Wednesday

Andy Reid

OPENING STATEMENT: "Alright, as far as the injuries go, the guys that won't practice today are Phillip Gaines, who has a little bit of swelling on his knee, and then, D.J. [Derrick Johnson] won't practice today. He'll be out. We haven't done anything with that position yet – that's why he's still on the roster. Everybody else will go ahead and practice. We look forward to the opportunity to play the Titans. Again, we know what kind of football team they are. They're hotter than a firecracker right now. So, we have to make sure we take care of business and get ourselves ready to play against a good football team. Our guys will do that. We started with a walk through this morning, and we'll pick it up this afternoon with a practice. The other thing, Tyreek [Hill] was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, so congratulations to him."

Q: You rank in the 20's in offensive and defensive yards – how much of that is how these gams have played out and how much of that number you'd like to improve?

REID: "Well, you're always trying to improve, right? So, you're always trying to get better at what you do. Then, I'd tell you some of it is how things have worked out, but again, there are things that we can get better at on both sides of it – yeah."

Q: What in particular stands out to you about the Titans defense?

REID: "They play hard, and they know what they're doing. Dick LeBeau's a Hall of Fame Coach and player, so he's very good at what he does. It looks like the guys believe in what they're doing."

Q: What have you found when examining the run game and why it's been struggling? What have you been looking for to try and make it better?

REID: "I think if you look at it, it's maybe a little more individual breakdown in each play. It's not one person, it's not one scheme. It's been kind of hit and miss on really all the different schemes. We can tighten it up in a few spots. We can also give the players some things that might be even a little bit better for what they do."

Q: What's the importance of clinching a playoff spot as soon as you can?

REID: "Yeah, I really haven't gone there. If you start going in that direction right now as a coach or a player, it's a problem. For you guys, it's great. I mean it's good talk. For the guys, we just have to focus in. Every game becomes the most important game. If it wasn't that way before, it surely is now, right? So, it should have been that way the whole time, so I'm just telling you from our standpoint, this is the most important game. We have to maximize ourselves in this thing to get ourselves right to play against a good football team."

Q: How do you find the balance with Tyreek Hill in not giving him so much as a rookie that he gets burnt out, but use him enough since he's such a dynamic player?

REID: "Listen, he has a great coach in David Culley, so he keeps track of all of that. If we start inching up to where it's too much then we just back it down. We haven't really felt like that yet. We just gradually increased his load, and he's been handling it. We're aware of it. If it does get there, then, David is on top of it."

Q: What did Terrance Mitchell give you in the last game?

REID: "He made a couple of nice plays is what he did when it comes down to it. He has a little bit of experience and it looked like it showed. It didn't seem too big for him. He got in, and he competed – gave you an honest down. Were there a couple he'd like to have back – probably – but there are some that he sure did a nice job on."

Q: How much value is there in making the Titans one dimensional offensively?

REID: "Well, right now, their one dimensional is pretty good – each dimension is pretty good. They've done well throwing the ball. They've done well running the ball, which is obvious. I think either one, they're capable of doing. You've got to play the whole game and whatever they dish to you, you have to go and play it."

Q: To be able to have control of the Division, get an off week and play at home – from your experiences, how big of a difference is that than a Wild Card game?

REID: "I don't go into it that way. That's not where you go with it. I know it's an important time of the year – I know that. If you're still in the hunt, every game becomes an important game, right? If you can just keep it that simple from a coach and a player standpoint – you're doing okay. Then, it's going to get blown up around you and all, but we don't do all that stuff. We focus in on the job at hand, and if you don't take care of business there, then, you have a problem. So, you have to take care of that. Anything that gets in the way of that, I think is a mistake. That's what my experiences have told me over the years. So, that's where I go with it."

Q: There's been a lot of dissection after last week, especially on the Oakland side of it, about the pass to Amari Cooper that seemingly got caught in the wind or something and Jack Del Rio said, 'It might have been an angel in the outfield.' What did you see on that throw?

REID: "I don't know. I don't believe in ghosts, but I mean it could have been whatever. It looked like a miss throw. That's what it looked like to me."

Q:  At age 79, what has Dick LeBeau been able to do in terms of adjusting and adapting over the years in order to maintain that level of excellence?

REID: "Yeah, he has great energy, number one, for being that age. He doesn't look it, and he doesn't act it. He stays on top of the game. He loves football, so he stays on top of it and studies. He always has a little wrinkle here or there for you."

Q: Some of the guys on the defensive side of ball have said how important it's been for them to speak freely to each other and they don't take things personally.  For all the years that you've been in the NFL, how unique is it for this team and these guys to be able to say those things?

REID: "Yeah, well I've said before, it's a good locker room. I think that's important that you can speak your mind, and you can't be too sensitive. As in life, somewhere, somebody is going to tell you something and you might not agree with it, but that's the beauty of living here, so you work it out and everybody has their own opinion. You appreciate that. That doesn't mean that you keep pounding it to where you fight over it. There's a time, and there's a place where you drop it and move on. If it's something where one of the older guys is trying to educate you with, then you take in the good, and try and learn from it. If one of the veteran guys gets on you, it's for the good – it's for the good of the team. This isn't that kind of a group that's just going to ride you to ride you. If they give you something, take it, and let it improve your game. Then, it makes you a better player and a better football team."

Alex Smith

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Q:Having gone through some ups and downs in your career, do you feel like it's made you a better player?  SMITH:"When you play a long time, you appreciate winning and all the different ways to do it. That's what this game is about. It's amazing and it's the highest of highs when you're winning, you're doing it well and you're doing it together. The lows are crummy. It sucks to lose. Nobody likes it. You put a lot of work and a lot of time in and you want to bear fruit so to speak. Those are the two things. There's no in between. You play long enough and you appreciate that. You appreciate your teammates and all the work they put in. You've also got to be accountable and hold up your end. There's a trust back and forth."

Q:Has having gone through some tough times made you a better player? 

SMITH:"Yeah. You appreciate that for sure. To be down and go through some tough seasons and deal with that, it for sure makes you appreciate when things go well." 

Q:How do you deal with the cold when temperatures are below freezing? 

SMITH:"Last week was pretty close to what it will be like this week. We've been outside in the elements a lot and it's been good practice for us. That's one of the benefits of being here. We'll get some good practices being out there again this week. I don't expect to do anything different."

Q:Where does the throw to Tyreek Hill in the end zone rank in terms of the best throws in your career?

SMITH:"It's tough to rank or compare. It was definitely a good connect. It was something we've talked about. Additionally, he makes things easy. There's two things with it: One, we were gambling a little bit with the protection and those guys holding up in front. Secondly, he makes it easy to stay aggressive. When throwing the ball, he tracks it so well you can really trust him down the field to go and get it. Hats off to him for those two things and making it look easy."

Q:How is the timing with him and how much of that is attributed to the work you've put in? 

SMITH:"We do it every week. Not only in practice but certainly anything we miss or might not get out there. We're working after periods, working in between and things like that. It's tough at this point too. You're not always going to get the work this late in the season. You've got to rely on communication, talking through things, looking through film and making sure we're on the same page. I think he's done a really good job at that as a young guy and being able to handle that. He also asks questions off to the side where we can talk through things like, 'Hey what if he plays me like this?' and things like that."

Q:What was the thought process in going ultra conservative in the second half after having so much success in the first?

SMITH:"I don't think it's something where we came in at halftime and said, 'Hey listen we're going to be conservative here in the second half.' Obviously, we called plays in the second half we thought were going to work and we need to execute and make them work. That was a good football team and a good defense. They made some adjustments and we weren't able to get things done like we wanted to in the second half. To say it was a conscious effort that we were going to go out there and play conservative is kind of ridiculous. We were trying to go out and execute. We made adjustments, they made them and they executed theirs better than we did."

Q:On Tyreek Hill's returns, even if he doesn't break a big one. How much do the 10-15 yard returns help make a difference? 

SMITH:"Those are big plays over the course of a game and season all year long -- on both ends. Even just catching the difficult punt sometimes are plays that change field position. They don't totally show up on a stat sheet necessarily, but if you stack them up over the course of a game and the course of a season, they help you. They give you an advantage."

Q:You're going up against a defense coached by Dick LeBeau. At 79 years old, how has he been able to innovate, adjust and stay with the continual changes of this game? 

SMITH:"You said it -- it's innovation. The guy invented his own pressure and he hasn't stopped. He continues to do new things. He has a great grasp of the game on offense and defense. He doesn't stop moving. They make you prepare for a ton and they do a lot. It'll be a big challenge on Sunday."

Q:Being able to clinch on Sunday -- is it more important to get that done early as opposed to letting it drag out? SMITH:"There's a lot of reasons and incentives put on this game. That's certainly one of them -- no question. Every team wants a ticket to the dance and you can't win it unless you get in. To be able to clinch this week, that is important for sure."

Q:When things aren't going your way, what do you do to stay confident and moving forward?

SMITH:"Communication on the sideline is a big part of it. And I'm not talking about the 'rah-rah' stuff like that. We've got a good group that just communicates and figures it out. You're trying to problem solve so to speak and you have to look at what they're doing and how we can counter it and things like that. Inherently in the huddle, we have the confidence with the 11 guys playing offense -- knowing that we're going to turn it around no matter what. No matter how bad it seems, you're going to get it done. It's everybody having confidence in each other. It's hard to get to. You have to go through things and battle to get it."   

Tyreek Hill

Q:Does being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week have special meaning to you?HILL:"Yes, it definitely does, but it's just not my award. I have to give a shout out to my brothers out there on the field fighting for me, doing everything that they're supposed to do – blocking well, technique wise and just putting it all out there on the line. So, really without those guys, I wouldn't be standing here in front of you."

Q:You also had a big touchdown reception in the game as well, how much do you feel like you can improve that aspect of the offense down the field?

HILL:"Every game there is something to correct, always. So, in our minds, we just have to start taking shots. Alex [Smith] is beginning to have that trust in not only me, but everybody else around. It's opening up shorter routes. I guess, just continue to put in the work at practice like we have been doing."

Q:How old were you when you realized that you could kind of run away from everybody else and were faster than everybody else?

HILL:"I was about six years-old, and my older cousins took me on this dirt road. It was like wild dogs. It was crazy. I was the youngest. We were there, and my cousins were about 12. I was the youngest, so the dogs came, and I just out ran everybody."

Q:There were cousins and dogs?

HILL:"Yeah. It was just a wild thing. Everybody was running. I was the first one to make it back to the house."

Q:On Thursday night, Arrowhead started chanting your name on the punt return. Alex Smith said in the press conference that he's never seen anything like that. Are you hearing that when you're back there or are you just zoned out preparing?

HILL:"I definitely heard it. It was crazy. It was probably one of the wildest moments I've had in football. I was scared. I was like, 'Woah, I don't want to drop another punt. They're chanting my name.' Like I said, I just appreciate the fans showing me love, showing my teammates love. They really hyped us up, and we scored."

Q:Where did the Cheetah nickname come up from?

HILL:"When I was in high school, I guess I would just run a lot and chase people – my little siblings and stuff. My family just began to call me cheetah."

Q:Have you lost a race since you were six years old?

HILL:"Yeah, I lost – one time. It was a professional race, actually. The guy out of Great Britain. The guy was pretty fast."

Q:Were you trying to qualify for the Olympics?

HILL:"No, it was like Junior Olympics. He was fast."

Q:The last guy to get Offensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week in the same season was Reggie Bush in 2006. What does it feel like to be in that kind of company?HILL:"It means a lot – just to be up there with a name like that. The name Reggie Bush just speaks for itself – for what he's done. Not only what he's done in college, but what he's done in this league. So, shout out to him. I'm just thankful to be up there. I'm thankful for this organization for giving me this wonderful opportunity, you all for just being here for me. I want to thank everybody, man."

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