KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When a Kansas City Chiefs offensive play succeeds spectacularly or fails miserably, don’t automatically credit or blame Andy Reid. The Chiefs’ head coach normally calls the offensive plays, but not all of them.
Reid said he occasionally will hand off the play-calling chores to offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, if he feels the Chiefs can benefit from a different perspective.
“If I feel we need a changeup, we go with it,’’ Reid said. “I think that’s healthy whether you’re in a slump or not. I just think it’s healthy to mix it up a little bit.’’
Though Reid usually has the final say, many voices have input into what play the Chiefs send via Pederson to quarterback Alex Smith through his helmet headset. When the defense is on the field, all of the offensive coaches can have a say as the Chiefs discuss which plays might work best on the next offensive series.
Reid leans on line coach Andy Heck in particular to suggest run calls.
“We all feed off of each other,’’ Reid said. “The bottom line is what’s best to be successful on the offensive side. I don’t even know the number (of times he allows Pederson to call plays). I can’t give you a number. But I have whole trust in those guys.
“Doug Pederson has done a great job. I watched him grow from being a player for me now as a coach and each year he’s done this now as a coordinator. Unfortunately he’s got a head coach that’s an offensive guy so . . . he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. But I have full trust to turn the whole game over to him and let him call it. It’s something I enjoy doing, but I have full trust in him doing it. That’s a comfortable feeling.’’
Pederson said Reid doesn’t just turn to him as the play-caller when the Chiefs are struggling. Reid at times will ask him to take over when things are going well.
“Sometimes it’s more of a changeup,’’ Pederson said. “If you get in a game and you feel like maybe the (opposing defensive) coordinator has a bead on you, then you just change up whether you’re moving the ball or not. Then you get it from a different set of eyes.
“It’s not very often, but there have been times this year when he’s allowed me to do that. He and I are so well-connected, as the offensive staff is, that he has the trust and confidence that he can do that. It’s a way for him to kind of view the game without calling the plays for a series or two and then he gets right back on it. But he’s one of the best play-callers in the National Football League and he’s not in slumps very often.’’
For his part, Smith said he doesn’t know whether it’s Reid or Pederson making the call when it comes his way.
“I know all those guys talk and it’s an open line and there are a lot of voices helping out,’’ Smith said. “I have no idea where the final say is coming from.
“Sometimes it happens when we’re watching film the next day. That’s the time when you might find out here and there, especially if it’s a critical play or something like that. But for the most part, no.”
Smith sometimes has the power to change a play at the line of scrimmage, but not always. Reid allows him more leeway in that regard some weeks more than others and for some calls more than others.
Smith said he occasionally has a good or bad feeling about how a certain play will work against the opponent and the particular defense it might be presenting. For instance, before the snaps he liked the two fourth-quarter calls that resulted in touchdown passes to Jeremy Maclin in last week’s game against the Raiders.
He has the opposite feeling an equal number of times.
“There have been a lot of times in my career, or even here, all week I’ll joke about it like, ‘I don’t think this play is going to work,’ or ‘I’m not feeling very good about it.’ And then you go out there and it does (work),’’ Smith said.
“It’s tough to always predict. For me, I do try to always stay out of it, I try to go out and execute. You do put your trust in the coaches and what they’re seeing and preparing us (for). It’s my job to go make it work. It would be hard for me to tell you that because I’ve been wrong just as much as I’ve been right.”