KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Coach Andy Reid had plenty of praise to pass along Monday, a day after the Chiefs’ 23-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Reid mentioned the coaching staff, the game plan, the team executing and the fan support during his opening remarks with media members.
During the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, Reid specifically mentioned a position group that experienced change at three positions.
“I thought the offensive line did a pretty good job,” Reid told reporters. “And I say that telling you that I think Pittsburgh has a pretty good front and they gave us a few different looks.
“So the thing I saw, and again, it wasn’t all pretty, but the effort there was – and the ability to set a tempo, I thought was raised from what it was before.”
The Chiefs moved Eric Fisher from right tackle to left tackle in place of Donald Stephenson, returned Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at right guard in place of Zach Fulton and inserted Jeff Allen at right tackle. Left guard Ben Grubbs and rookie center Mitch Morse remained intact with the starting unit.
The results saw the Chiefs produce a 100-yard rusher for the first time since Week 2, and against a run defense that entered the game ranked seventh in the league (93.3 yards allowed per game).
Anchored by Charcandrick West, who rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, the Chiefs ground gain produced 138 yards rushing on 29 attempts, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.
While quarterback Alex Smith was sacked twice, he completed 21 of 32 attempts for 251 yards and a touchdown behind a mostly effective front five.
“I’ve said this from Day One – that’s where it starts on the offensive side,” Reid said. “I liked the way the guys handled themselves. Are there things we can get better at? Yeah, we’ve got to keep improving there, but the effort definitely was there.”
Reid, a former offensive lineman himself, said he likes to see attitude, such as displaying extra effort in finishing blocks or the willingness to step in and protect teammates, from the players along the offensive line.
“That’s not really a nice guy position,” Reid said. “So for two hours, you have to handle yourself a certain way. You’re literally a protector of people, so you take that seriously.”
The Chiefs head coach admits the mentality wasn’t always present in the previous weeks leading to before Week 7’s game.
“There wasn’t enough of it,” he said.
Fisher took care of that Sunday by showing his protective side when he jumped to the defense of West after a Pittsburgh defender appeared to hold West’s ankle and twist it at the end of a play.
Reid wasn’t a fan of the taunting penalty Fisher incurred by coming to West’s rescue, but he appreciated what Fisher did.
“He probably could have handled it different, but at the same time you’re going to stick up for your guys,” Reid said. “So (if) you’re going to try to tweak the ankle of one of our guys, we better be coming to the rescue as an offensive lineman. I was proud of him for that.”
The Chiefs went through numerous rotations since the start of the season, opening with Stephenson at left tackle, Grubbs at left guard, Morse at center, Duvernay-Tardif at right guard and Jah Reid at right tackle in place of Fisher, who was battling a high-ankle sprain.
Fisher returned to the lineup at right tackle in Week 3, and then the Chiefs moved Fulton to right guard in Week 4 before Week 7’s changes.
And it now appears the Chiefs have found the right combination, which isn’t likely to change in the near future.
“There’s a pretty good chance it stays the same,” Reid said.