What We Learned From Wednesday's Media Availability

Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Quarterback Alex Smith met with the media Wednesday afternoon

Andy Reid

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OPENING STATEMENT:"Alright, as far as injuries go, the guys that aren't practicing today are Justin Houston – he has some inflammation on his knee, Spencer Ware has bruised ribs; he'll be out there going today however. We look forward to the challenge of playing San Diego. It's always a battle with those guys. I joked about it, but it's true – as long as Philip Rivers is playing, they're going to play hard and aggressive on the offensive side. Defensively, [John] Pagano's defense always plays hard and aggressive. That's how they're doing right now. They've got some young guys that have gotten opportunities and are in there taking advantage of those and playing fast. We're going to have a good week of practice here and get ourselves ready to go play against a good football team."

Q:You guys didn't see Joey Bosa in the first game, but you will now. What have you seen from him on film?

REID:"Yeah, it looks like he's a really good player. He has the sacks, the numbers there. The thing he does is he's going to give you an honest down every snap. So, there's no downs off. He's going to push it – run, pass, it doesn't matter. The sacks get all the accolades there. His game overall- he's going to come at you every snap."

Q:Spencer Ware is practicing today?

REID:"Yeah, he'll be out there today. Yeah."

Q:So, the only one that isn't practicing is Justin Houston?

REID:"Yeah, just [Justin] Houston."

Q:You don't see a lot of teams running screens with their tight ends, but with Travis Kelce does his acceleration make him uniquely qualified to run those plays?

REID:"He runs well. He's a good athlete, so you can put him in a lot of different spots. The acceleration on those quick screens outside, that's important. Those first three steps after the catch of getting yourself up and rolling – the first five yards – however you want to term it – he gives you that flexibility to do that."

Q:It's partially out of your control whether you get a first-round bye, but you've been on both sides of that. How big of a deal is getting a first round bye?

REID:"Well, you'd love to have it, but if you don't then, you go play. The important thing is that we get ourselves ready for this game and go do our thing. If you don't get the bye, then you still have to go out and do your thing."

Q:How much do you watch or avoid the Oakland score during the game?

REID:"Yeah, I don't look at any of that. I didn't look at it this past week. They told me on the way out, but I don't want to get into all of that. That stuff drains you kind of on game day, you get emotionally [drained]. It's not worth it. I don't do that. I just go coach and try to win the game."

Q:Can you control that? Somebody is going to leak the score?

REID:"Yeah, it's obvious. We have to go play, and that's what we're going to do."

Q:In addition to the bye week, you haven't had a home playoff game since you've been here. How much of an advantage would that be if you got it?

REID:"Yeah, sure we would love to bring a playoff game here. That's what we'd love to do, but some of that is out of our hands right now. So, we'll go take care of business, and do what we can do and whatever happens, happens. If we can bring one here, that'd be great. There's no better place to play than right here. To say that we wouldn't love to have one, that'd be wrong."

Q:Are you at all frustrated that you've dominated this division for two years and haven't won it?"

REID:"Yeah, I don't get caught up in that. Listen, all those little things like that, I don't get all bent up and just try and get ready for the next game and roll. Keep it very simple, very simple."

Q:What do you remember the most about the big comeback against the Chargers?

REID:"Yeah, well I've watched the tape because that's what you do, right? The guys executed well. In the two minute situation, we were able to kind of shut things down from a defensive standpoint. We did a nice job there. So, the effort was there. I guess the thing I remember coming out of it was this is a team that's never going to quit. It may not all be pretty, but they're not going to quit. That's not what they're going to do."

Q:You've talked a lot of how much familiarity you have with the teams in the division and how you're not going to surprise one another, so those chess matches that take place during the game – how much do you enjoy that part of the game?

REID:"Yeah, that's the fun part of it as you set up the week, and then, you get into the game and you always have one or two things that you have to make an adjustment to. This crew has been there now. Mike [McCoy] and his staff have been there for the same time that we've been here. They've seen seven of our games or whatever – coming up eight here. They have an idea of what we do, and we have an idea of what they do. They haven't had a lot of change over there." 

Q: In there 10 losses, average margin is just about five points. How taxing are games like that where guys might go back and think we're one play away from being completely different while sitting here at 5-10?

REID: "I think it probably goes both ways. The parody is this league is crazy right now, so you're going to have games like that. You're going to have ones that you win by a small margin, you could some that you potentially lose by a small margin. You can't let that get to you, you just have to keep pushing. I think that's what guys do, they just try to fix whatever problem that next game and go forward. At the end of the year you might look back at it and do whatever you do, but you're not doing it during the season."

Q: What you received from the group of tight ends as a whole this year, was this what you expected?

REID: "Yeah, it is. Coming into camp I felt like that was a strong position. They were young, but a strong position. I thought it was just a matter of growing into what we were going to do with them and how we were going to utilize them, what was going to be productive. I think we're probably where you'd hope we'd be."

Q: What about the one tight end, [Travis] Kelce?

REID: "Yeah I think he's taken his game to another level. I would say that. Just knowing what to do from that standpoint. He's not out there thinking where do I have to line up, what route gets this coverage, he just goes out there and plays, so you're getting the full range of his skill."

Q: Do you feel like you guys are doing a better job of using his skills?

REID: "Yeah, I tell you when he catches balls we're probably doing better and he's probably doing better."

Q: On utilizing Travis Kelce in different schemes.

REID: "Yeah we are, we're trying to do that. We're trying to change it up where teams can't get indicators."

Q: Is there any way to take into account the oddity – this might be the last game they play as the San Diego Chargers?

REID: "A lot of that was made last year and I know when we went out there that was a huge issue. I don't know what to believe, I don't really get caught up in that. We went through that last year and it seemed like the same kind of deal. I don't know what's real and what's not real. I'm not privy to that information. We've got to focus in and eliminate all of those kinds of distractions, New Years and just focus on the job at hand. That's something we can control. Each play you can control yourself and try to do the right thing on that. I think if you get away from it there's plenty of things to be distracted with and your game falls apart, so you have to really focus in and stay on the things that you can control and that's how you play."

Q: With all the injuries that the Chargers have had, what's the challenge in preparing?

REID: "I think they've done a great job and I've always said that about Philip [Rivers]. He doesn't care - Whoever he puts in he goes. That old tight end they have, he's playing really well right now. All the sudden the second half of the season, his game has gone way up. On defense they have guys that you really haven't heard of within their deal there. I think they've done a nice job of coaching those guys and the guys have played with energy."

Alex Smith

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Q:Has Travis Kelce improved as a player or is this offense finding better ways to use him?

SMITH:"Both. I think he's picked up his play every year. As he's gotten older and played more, he banks all of that stuff. We move him around and do different things with him. He's a guy that has so many tools for a tight end. We do a ton with him and he's capable of it. He's handled it mentally and physically. Certainly he's gone out there, won and found separation. The cool thing for everyone was being able to watch him go out and have a monster night. It was a spark for us and it got us going. He had 11 catches, should have had 12. He also had two monster blocks on our first two touchdown plays. It says a lot about him as a player. When you have those things from your key players on your team and in your locker room, those things rub off -- those effort plays and guys giving it up. He's special. I do think he's ascending and getting better. He gets played by so many guys that he banks all of it -- how safeties play him, how linebackers play him, how corners play him and all of that.    

Q:With a big game offensively on Sunday night, what signs have you seen, if any, that show this is a lasting progression and not just a one-night showing?

SMITH:"There is part of that, which you do have momentum. It goes in a certain direction and moves in a certain direction as the season goes on. There's also the weekly challenge which can change dramatically. It's those two things. We've got a very different unit than Denver. At the same time, we're coming off that week and we still carry it with us to a certain extent. You match up both of those things. Some stuff stays with you and sometimes you get a brand new game plans. That's kind of the tricky thing with it."

Q:Defenses play Travis Kelce differently. If he's in one-on-one coverage, he's a bad matchup for everybody isn't he?

SMITH:"Really good safeties or corners maybe aren't the coverage you'd want, but I think Kelce is a guy that regardless of who covers him, he seems to separate. Really good cover corners, nickels, linebackers and safeties -- he's gone against all of them and he's shown he can win. He's got that kind of ability. Sometimes as quarterbacks, we make too much of that. He's a guy that regardless of who's covering him in one-on-one, he wins."

Q:Do you ever get into a mode where you feel like you 'Can't get him the ball enough'?

SMITH:"Yeah. And there's certain play calls that come in. There's an underlined intent that comes in with them. Some calls come in and I know they're designed for [Travis] Kelce. So if he does get the one-on-one, you're going there. There's other times where the play wasn't drawn for him, but a great matchup took you there. Every guy has that. When play calls come in, there's certain plays for certain guys. It's just kind of balancing that and understanding it. A lot of times it is some per amity, you get the look and the one-on-one, yeah that's why it's coming in."

Q:What does it mean for this offense to have Spencer Ware practicing with bruised ribs?

SMITH:"That's the one thing that stuck out to me on Sunday night. We had such balance and were able to get it going. The run game really got us going and we were able to build on that. Especially when it was wet and we were still able to run the ball efficiently on a good unit. It really opened things up on the back end with one-on-ones for a lot of guys. He's the guy that gets us going there. He runs physical. He makes a lot of plays in the pass game as well. That's who he is. He sparks us and brings a lot of energy. We know he's banged up but we hope to have him out there."

Q:How would you speak to Jeremy Maclin's role with the emergence of Travis Kelce?

SMITH:"It's just different. The team on Sunday night, they've got two pro bowl corners. That's maybe the best or one of the best secondaries out there. They're the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL. In a game like that, maybe your matchups are better with Kelce. He was matched up on safeties, he was on linebackers and he was winning. That changes every week. All of those things. That's part of the deal. That's why coaches are here all night -- they're analyzing those matchups and trying to put guys in those situations. That's one great thing about this team -- we don't really care who gets the credit. We've got a bunch of selfless guys who don't really care and you don't know whose number it's going to be."

Q:Travis Kelce had a big night receiving wise. Can you touch on the job he did blocking on some of the touchdown runs?* *

SMITH:"He had a huge block on Tyreek Hill's run on the edge. If you're going to be a good unit, you have to have that. You've got to have a bunch of selfless guys that put the team and the unit first. Obviously, everybody wants to be a included and be a piece of it. It's good to be happy for your teammates and happy for your team -- it's hard to be successful without them."

Q:How is the large amount of offensive weapons available this season, different from past years?

SMITH:"We have so many young guys that have played a lot of football up to this point. From our backs, to the whole wideout room and the tight ends. It's finding all of those things, right? If [Travis] Kelce is going to get a bunch of attention and we're out there with a couple tight ends, you'll see Demetrius [Harris] making plays. We can get our running backs matched up on favorable matchups and certainly all of the wideouts.  With all those guys mixing in and getting involved, everybody feeds off of each other and we kind of have to. You can't get one-dimensional if they're going to key in on someone. You're not always going to have those nights where Kelce gets 11 catches. If teams want to take him away, the rest of us need to step up."

Q:As a San Diego guy, what does this mean that it could be the last game for the Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium?

SMITH:"Weird. I played there in high school and I played there in college. I think it'd be strange and sad if the Chargers left. That's just for me personally and the community having grown up there. Obviously, I'm getting ready to play a game so it's not on the forefront of my mind but definitely sad. I hope they stay."

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