KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs coach Andy Reid spent time during his Monday media session pointing out areas gone wrong from Sunday’s ugly 26-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Of course, Reid found some good, such as the return this week of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Marcus Cooper. The Chiefs should activate Bowe from the suspension list and Cooper missed the season opener with an ankle injury.
But there’s not enough good to explain away Sunday’s performance, especially when it came to the head-scratching use of the team’s top playmaker.
“Not giving 25 (running back Jamaal Charles) the ball more than seven times is negligence on my part also,” Reid said.
Charles saw 54 offensive snaps, or 95 percent of plays. He recorded the seven carries Reid mentioned for a paltry 19 yards and added four catches for 15 yards.
Reid initially said Sunday following the game the Titans schemed to take away Charles.
“They took away a lot of what we had designed for him,” Reid said Sunday. “That was one of the reasons.”
With an opportunity to review the game film, the head coach explained Monday what happened.
“They primarily went with a cover three look and a cover four with a cheat safety look,” Reid said, “both of which are good run stopping coverages. And then they played gaps and so on.”
But should that have deterred the Chiefs from feeding the ball to one of the NFL’s top dynamic offensive players?
Reid appeared to concede the way the Titans played the run shouldn’t have.
“It wasn’t anything that should have veered us off of the run game as much as it did,” he said.
The Chiefs need to get the offense on track this week with a big AFC West showdown against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.
And an obvious route is getting the ball in the hands of Charles, who comes off a 2013 All-Pro season where he totaled 1,980 yards (1,287 yards) and 19 touchdowns (12 rushing).
“This offense is best when there’s balance,” Reid said. “So I’ve got to make sure that I maintain that and continue to give your best player – or one of your best players – the football. So that’s just doing it.”
The Chiefs used a first-round pick (23rd overall) on outside linebacker Dee Ford.
While Ford brings a reputation as a pass-rush specialist, it was reasonable to expect he’d see more action Sunday outside of the three defensive snaps he played.
“Dee Ford probably didn’t have enough snaps,” Reid admitted. “We’ve got to work him in the rotation and do a better job there, which we’ll do.”
A part of the issue surrounds Ford still transitioning from the defensive end position he played in college. And that means more responsibilities as a linebacker in addition to rushing the opposing quarterback.
The good news for Ford is he has one of the league’s best outside linebacker tandems – Tamba Hali and Justin Houston – to learn from as he continues to develop into an NFL pass rusher.
In the meantime, it doesn’t appear Ford will be relegated to three snaps per game going forward.
“He’s getting better in the run game,” Reid said. “Right now his strength is the pass game, but he’s getting better. So there are some things you can do rotationally there where he gets in and has an opportunity to play.”
The Chiefs offensive game plan was dealt a blow late in the days leading to the season opener when rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas suffered a hamstring injury during practice.
Thomas missed the final two practices, and then was inactive Sunday.
“We were going to use him,” Reid said. “But things happen, that’s how this league works.”
With Thomas out of the lineup, the Chiefs turned to wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. to return punts. Hammond finished with 47 yards on four returns for an 11.8 yards per return average.
The offense also sputtered without another playmaker to offer a spark, gaining 245 yards on the game.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs may not have Thomas in the coming days, as Reid didn’t sound optimistic surrounding the hamstring injury, which can linger.
“It’ll be a fight for him to get there,” Reid said. “Those things normally take a little bit longer, but we’ll see.