And off to Pittsburgh they went.
The Kansas City Chiefs finished up training camp on Thursday before heading out of town to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, putting a bow on their 10th season in St. Joe.
Even though camp is over, the first regular season game isn’t until Sept. 8, and Chiefs’ coaches and players have said throughout camp there is still a lot to be done.
“Now, do we have a bunch of work to get done yet? Yeah, we do, before the season starts,” head coach Andy Reid said after Thursday’s practice. “The guys came out with what I thought was a great attitude. They had a purpose of wanting to be better.”
From a defensive standpoint, the team has only had the offseason and training camp to work with an entirely new defensive coaching staff and several new players.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo changed a lot, and players like defensive lineman Breeland Speaks said they like the changes made so far. He said last year’s defense was focused more on running the right schemes, while this year, players are allowed to do what they do best.
“It was just fun to finally get out there and just rush versus worrying about if I have to drop or worrying about a set or something. It was just fun to be able to get out there and just rush the passer,” Speaks said.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has faced the defense every practice since the change and has seen the improvements within the team.
“It seems like every day they’re giving me a different pressure or a different coverage that they’re playing that they’re going off something they have done days before,” Mahomes said. “When you feel like you’ve figured it out, they add something to it. I think that’s an attribute to the coaches, Coach (Spagnuolo) and all these other coaches who have come in from different backgrounds and put their input into it, kind of made them a well-rehearsed defense.”
Several members of the defense would stick around after some practices to get extra work in. Safety Tyrann Mathieu, who joined the Chiefs in March, said that work continues after fans leave and it’s only the players in the film room.
“The offense is doing something, and, defensively, we go to the side and work on different techniques and different communications, or even between meetings — just studying extra film and really diving into one-on-ones,” Mathieu said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve been trying to do all that, but it is hard to do especially at camp when everyone is tired once the day is over, but a lot of guys have just been committing themselves to do the extra.”
Mathieu is a part of those new defensive changes for the Chiefs. As a six-year veteran of the league, Mathieu has faced plenty of offenses. He said this group of running backs and wide receivers is the fastest he’s faced all preseason.
“We definitely have the talent to go out there and have success every single time we are on the field,” Mahomes said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s all about the execution that we have to keep getting better and better every single week and every single day.”
Even with all the work still needing done, tight end Travis Kelce said the future of this offense is bright.
“The sky is the limit for this offense,” Kelce said after Wednesday’s practice. “The guys who have been here the last couple years — especially last year — we’re taking it up a level than we have in years past. You can just tell from the coaches’ excitement, to their attention to detail, to how guys are reacting to their coaching.
“This team is going to be awesome, and we’re going to have a lot of fun on the offensive side of the ball.”