When the Kansas City Chiefs signed former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid to a three-year contract worth $31.5 million, there were serious questions about whether Reid's play would live up to the value of the deal. Those questions still remain in regards to his on-field performance during the regular season and playoffs, but Reid is saying and doing all the right things to leave a great first impression right now.
As the Chiefs' veterans reported to training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO earlier this week, there were vibes of uncertainty and cautious optimism coming from those in Chiefs circles. Some folks are worried about so many new players — such as Reid — entering the fold and finding success quickly, whereas others think the opportunity for a fresh start is a positive and could lead to a rejuvenated Chiefs squad this fall. Reid, the new "kid" on the block, spoke about that fresh start after practice on Wednesday.
“There’s something to be said about a fresh start," Reid said. "This is a new-look defense, you could say. We have a lot of new faces and a lot of guys who are gritty and have been hungry for the opportunity to prove their worth and show who they are as players. We want to be an attitude defense. We want to come out and set the tempo, we want to be physical, we want to be dominant. When it comes to the end of the game and we have a lead, we want to be the ones to finish it and not have to rely on the offense to go out and do anything. That’s the attitude that we’re building and that’s the attitude that we’re going to continue with the whole season.”
Reid made several interesting points when explaining how a new year and new opportunity can breed positive results. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit lacked many things in 2021, but two of the most notable missing elements were physicality and attitude. Those who remained from Kansas City's Super Bowl-winning team had lost a little bit of their edge, and it showed on the field. Late leads were far from completely safe and while the defense improved down the stretch of last season, changes needed to be made.
Now, it's out with aging veterans such as Tyrann Mathieu and in with the 25-year-old Reid. The two players are far from the same on the field, but Reid's versatility is a plus and will play to his advantage in Spagnuolo's system. What's become eerily similar to Mathieu in Reid's limited opportunities to showcase thus far, however, is his leadership. It shines through during his appearances before the media, and it's been shining through on the field this week. When asked about his ability to keep calm and lead on the fly, Reid said it's one of the things he thinks he does the best.
"That’s my strong point, I feel like that’s the reason why they brought me in," Reid said. "Being a field general on the backend and being able to see the whole picture, not only just to put guys in positions but sometimes just going out there and playing football. Mistakes happen but having the awareness to see when something is off and be the eraser on the backend to make sure that we get them on the ground or to just fix the mistake to where most people don’t even know that there was a mistake on the field.”
The Chiefs' young pups (rookies Leo Chenal, Bryan Cook and George Karlaftis) will make plenty of mistakes, and so will veteran signings like Reid. With that said, the latter seems to have the right outlook on how to overcome those errors, learn from them, keep moving forward and inspire others to do the same. In a very finite amount of time at camp with a relatively short window to take on a year's worth of information, that's important. Again, it's far from certain that Reid will end up living up to that contract, but the early returns have been a clear positive for Kansas City.