Kansas City Chiefs aim to avoid distractions vs. Philadelphia Eagles

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 13, 2017 at 11:23 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When a team knocks off the defending Super Bowl champions on their own turf, word tends to spread quickly.

The Kansas City Chiefs found out this week just how many people were watching their 42-27 stunner over New England last week.

"I've certainly seen teams where they play really good and they feel so good about themselves and walk into the next week and get smacked in the mouth," quarterback Alex Smith warned his teammates this week.

The honors and accolades poured in for the Chiefs this week, including a Sports Illustrated cover for rookie running back Kareem Hunt and an AFC offensive player of the week award for Smith.

Smith quickly tried to downplay the attention and the distractions.

"I just think that if you play long enough you realize how quick things can change," Smith said in explaining his nonchalance. "One week everybody's raving about you and how quickly it can flip if you drink the Kool-Aid."

The 13-year veteran Smith remains the steady hand guiding the Chiefs, trying to keep them focused on the task at hand, facing the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in the team's home opener at Arrowhead Stadium.

"I think we know we're capable of playing better," Smith said. "We had a lot of self-inflicted mistakes and penalties being a part of that, especially crucial ones."

The Chiefs offense percolated against the Patriots thanks to their agile offensive line creating running lanes for Hunt and protecting Smith.

But the group faces a different challenge in the Eagles' front seven led by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, according to head coach Andy Reid.

"That's really a big strength of their defense is that front four and those linebackers," Reid said. "They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback - they've done it now for a couple years."

Smith wants to see his offense continue the execution it showed in New England. Last season, the Chiefs' offense struggled in critical situations including converting third downs and scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

None of those flaws manifested themselves against the Patriots.

"And that's a lot to playing quarterback," Smith explained. "The big moments, third down, red zone, two-minute, all those situations, you got to be good and those change games."

Reid gives the credit to Smith for helping the Chiefs keep their cool in a pressure situation in New England.

"I don't want him to look anywhere other than getting ready for the game, whatever game it is, get ready for it and be yourself," Reid said. "That's plenty good."

The win over the Patriots puts the Chiefs among the contenders in the AFC, but they understand a loss to Philadelphia brings them back to the pack, according to defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

"It's great having that under our belt, but you've got to have a short memory," Nunez-Roches said. "Don't let it ride you too high, but don't let it knock you too down."

--Andy Reid has faced former assistants as coaching foes in the past, but no matchup may pose more deja vu than matching up against Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson.

"I think a lot of where I'm at today is definitely a tribute to what Andy has done in my life for sure," Pederson said.

Pederson first crossed paths as a player with Reid the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay. Reid later brought the quarterback to Philadelphia as his starter in 1999, and then gave him his first coaching job with the Eagles in 2009. Pederson followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013, spending three seasons as offensive coordinator.

Both coaches share the same offensive philosophy and also hold close connections with the rosters on the opposite sideline.

"Andy obviously knows a lot of our players," Pederson said. "He drafted a lot of our players and will have great familiarity there."

Reid said he sees many similarities between Pederson's Eagles offense and his own offense.

"They have a little bit of influx of the old San Diego staff in there so you're getting a little bit of that," Reid said. "But for the most part it's what we do here, same type of thing."

--Travis and Jason Kelce have played football much of their lives, but Sunday's matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles pits brother against brother for their first time on the football field.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles center Jason Kelce will have plenty of family and friends on hand at Arrowhead Stadium.

"It will be fun but at the same time, you've got to approach it like this is an important game for us and important for the Kansas City Chiefs," Jason said. "You've got to take it seriously."

A meeting between the brothers was scheduled in 2013 when the teams last met. Travis missed the season following microfracture knee surgery.

Jason laughed at the suggestion Travis might have some trash talking to do before the game.

"Oh, no, yeah he's very humble, very reserved guy," Jason said with a laugh. "He doesn't talk any trash whatsoever as you've seen in his games."

In fact, Travis already started jabbing his brother following Kansas City's 42-27 win over New England in Week 1.

"He was hyping up his boy Alex Smith pretty good after that game," Jason said. "We definitely have a friendly back and forth that's for sure."

NOTES: DT Bennie Logan sustained a knee contusion in Week 1 against New England and missed practice Wednesday. Head coach Andy Reid indicated he did not believe the injury to be a long-term issue for the run-stopping lineman. ... S Ron Parker, who missed practice time with an ankle injury last week, returned to full workouts Wednesday. Parker played all 81 defensive snaps in Week 1 against the Patriots. ... S Eric Murray looks to gain the most playing time following the season-ending Achilles injury to S Eric Berry. Murray played just 13 defensive snaps in Week 1, most of them coming following Berry's injury. He also played 32 snaps on special teams. ... S Daniel Sorensen may pick up some of the slack in Eric Berry's absence, but coaches indicated they want to maintain Sorensen's role as an in-the-box safety in run situations as well as on special teams. Sorenson played 48 defense snaps and 32 special teams snaps in Week 1. ... RB C.J. Spiller returned to the Chiefs for the second time following his release in the last two weeks. The Chiefs released Spiller after the the cutdown to 53 players, which allowed the Chiefs to move cornerback Steven Nelson to injured reserve with a potential designation to return. He re-signed the next day. The team released Spiller a second time on Thursday, just before the season opener against New England. That means that Spiller, as a vested veteran, does not have a guaranteed contract for the 2017 season. ... LB Ramik Wilson, the team's starting Mike linebacker, played just 25 snaps against New England as the team spent most of the game in substitution packages with five and six linebackers. Wilson may see an increase in playing time this week against the Eagles. ... LG Parker Ehinger remains limited in practice as he returns from a torn ACL sustained last season. Ehinger indicated he may be ready to return to the lineup early in the season, but all indications suggest the Chiefs want to take it slowly with the second-year lineman. ... LB Reggie Ragland also remains limited in practice in his own recovery from ACL surgery. Ragland played during the preseason for Buffalo before a trade brought him to Kansas City, but the Chiefs want Ragland to build his strength and stamina before returning to action.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories