In less than two weeks Kansas City Chiefs fans will be doing their best Andy Reid impersonations for Halloween, but in the meantime he’s probably putting a little scare into Cincinnati Bengals fans just with what he puts on the field.
The Bengals (4-2) travel to play the Chiefs (5-1) on Sunday Night Football this week.
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Reid spoke about some of the things that make his team so good on a conference call with Cincinnati media this week. Topics centered around the surprising quick development of first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, some of the other unique strengths of the Chiefs and the challenges of facing another high-scoring offense and a defense anchored by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.
Here are five takeaways from what Reid said about the matchup with Cincinnati:
1. Mahomes is smart
Mahomes, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2017 draft, replaced Alex Smith at quarterback this season, and after playing just one game as a rookie, he’s transitioned well in Year 2. His strong throwing arm and ability to extend plays outside the pocket stand out as his strengths, but more important than that is his football IQ.
Reid said the Chiefs thought he seemed pretty smart during the interview process before the draft but it didn’t take long to see his true intellect as he quickly picked up Kansas City’s offense and has excelled in running it this season. The former Texas Tech star has thrown for 1,865 yards and 18 touchdowns with four interceptions this year.
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“He’s really sharp,” Reid said. “He’s following one of the smartest guys I’ve ever coached in Alex, and we really haven’t stepped back in volume that way. He’s done a nice job.”
Reid said he often gets asked if Mahomes could be compared to Brett Favre, and while there are similarities in arm strength and playmaking ability, it’s tough to compare such a young player to a guy that did well in the league for so long.
2. Attacking every inch
Mahomes has weapons — Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce — in the passing game, but Kansas City can also run the ball. Kareem Hunt ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards and was No. 1 last year.
Reid said the Chiefs strive to attack every inch of the field, whether it’s pounding the football or throwing it.
“You strive for that, but we’ve got a good team we are playing against this week,” Reid said. “This defense this week is a good one, so we have to make sure we prepare and get ourselves right. Kareem is a good football player though. He loves to play. He plays physical and hard-nose football.”
3. Good coaching, D-line make Bengals defense tough
Reid said Marvin Lewis’ influence on the defense is evident in how aggressive the Bengals play on that side of the ball, and personnel wise it starts up front.
“I’m a big Marvin Lewis fan, and he has done a nice job over the years, not only being a head coach but also his influence on the defense, so you’re seeing a tough group flying around,” he said. “A couple of those guys I feel like they’ve played forever, 97 (Atkins) and 96 (Dunlap), I feel like they’ve been there forever, but they are good football players. They have good players and they have good coaches, and they play good defense.”
4. Bengals have weapons on offense
Reid was asked why he thinks the Bengals have been so successful in the red zone this season (leading the league with touchdowns on 75 percent of trips inside the 20-yard line), and he said it comes down to their ability to use different players in various situations.
It’s a good challenge for his struggling defense.
“I think they’ve been good getting to the red zone too,” Reid said. “I think Andy (Dalton) is playing good, and he’s got a good receiving core group and the running backs are good. He is using all of them, the tight ends are good, and he’s spreading it around.”
Reid wasn’t ready to try to compare John Ross to Hill, though, except to say they are both fast.
5. Intangibles help Kelce
When asked what has enabled the former University of Cincinnati tight end to become one of the best in the league, Reid said it comes down to intangibles.
Kelce, a sixth-year player, has made the Pro Bowl three times in his first five seasons.
“I think Travis loves to play the game,” Reid said. “I had his brother (Jason, an offensive lineman for the Eagles). They’re completely opposites. But the consistent factor is they love playing. Trav can do so many things, but it’s mostly his heart and love of the game that drives him.”
Bengals at Chiefs, 8:20 p.m., NBC, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7