Chiefs hope rare bit of continuity yields success
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs churned through four coaches in eight years before Andy Reid arrived, and far more offensive and defensive coordinators. Each of them had varying schemes and ideas, and the result was a hodge-podge of failure.
Alex Smith went through a similar experience in San Francisco, where the constant changes on the coaching staff nearly ran the former No. 1 draft pick right out of the league.
Reid and Smith are entering Year 3 together, though. Their assistant coaches have remained largely unchanged. And in a league in which turnover - coaches and players - is part of life, the Chiefs are hoping that unique period of continuity will yield success.
''I think that's important. Continuity is a big thing,'' said Reid, whose 14 seasons spent in Philadelphia are a prime example. ''We all kind of know as a coaching staff where we're going, what direction we're going in, and I think that's important. That's a good thing.''
Historically, the Chiefs aren't a franchise that goes through coaching staffs.
Hank Stram was in charge for the first 15 years, leading the Chiefs to their only Super Bowl title in 1969. Marty Schottenheimer spent a decade in the coach's office, leading Kansas City to seven playoff appearances. Dick Vermeil spent five years in charge.
But things changed after he hung up the headset. Herm Edwards had the franchise in the midst of a massive rebuilding project when he was fired after three years. Todd Haley didn't make it past his third year before he was let go, as much because he couldn't get along with then-general manager Scott Pioli as anything. Romeo Crennel was fired after one horrific season in charge.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said following Crennel's dismissal that he wanted the franchise to be a model of consistency. So when Reid was let go by the Eagles, Hunt made an aggressive play for a coach whose hallmark over the years has been constancy and reliability.
So why is that continuity so important?
Start with the scheme. Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson have a robust playbook at their disposal, but it is only as useful as the players' knowledge of it. The fact that Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and other key pieces of the offense are in their third year running it takes much of the pressure off trying to digest everything in training camp.
''That's the big thing, being in your third year, the guys understand our system,'' Pederson explained. ''So we're putting them in the same situations that they would be in during the course of the game, and they are handling that very well, because they're relying on past experience.''
Even the rookies can move along more quickly, because while everything may be new to them, they have what amounts to dozens of coaches - their well-versed teammates - helping them.
''The rookies have looked great,'' second-year quarterback Aaron Murray said. ''They're just like the rest of us. They've come out and competed with the older guys.''
Another big benefit to continuity? Guys such as Charles that take a beating during the regular season need not absorb so much punishment before games count.
The star running back has not missed a practice this camp, but he often sits out when the team does 11-on-11, full-contact scrimmages. Charles already knows the playbook and its nuances, so why risk an injury? Especially after he was banged up much of last season.
''He knows what he's doing, and we know what he can do, and he does a good job of taking care of his body,'' Pederson said. But when the staff first got to Kansas City, ''the reps were the biggest thing. Learning our offense was the biggest thing when we first got here.''
Finally, the Chiefs only play three games at Arrowhead Stadium in their first 11 - one of their designated homes games is in London. So in difficult environments where communication could be more challenging, an intimate knowledge of the system is crucial.
''This is our third year running as a group together,'' tight end Travis Kelce said. ''Our chemistry right now is through the roof.''
NOTES: WR Albert Wilson was dealing with an illness during Tuesday's practice. OL Marcus Reed (right ankle) and DL Mike Catapano (groin) are also dealing with injuries. ... The Chiefs have their final practice Wednesday before their preseason opener Saturday at Arizona.