From the Truman Sports Complex
Eric Berry watched the tape many times over the last four months. Derrick Johnson hasn’t hit the play button even once.
Two very different ways of dealing with the gut wrenching aftermath of January’s disastrous loss in the first round of the playoffs when the Chiefs blew a 28-point lead with 28 minutes to play, eventually losing to Indianapolis.
It was a subject addressed upon the start of the Chiefs nine-week off-season program on Monday at the team’s facility. Head coach Andy Reid would not indicate how many of the players on his roster were in the house, saying only “we had a good turnout.”
The day began with a team meeting and words from Reid, and he went right for the white elephant in the room β the blown lead and subsequent loss to the Colts. Typical of Reid’s straight ahead style, he immediately addressed the subject.
“There are great things you can learn from that football game as a young team,” Reid said. “They came into a game, a game in the playoffs; got this great lead and you learn you’ve got to keep your foot on the accelerator for four quarters. You can’t let up an inch against a good football team.
“We can take some things out of that game that will make us better this year.”
The word that was repeated by a handful of players, as if it’s already a mantra for the 2014 Chiefs was finish.
“The biggest thing we talked about was just finishing,” said Berry. “I think that was the whole overlay of our season, especially on defense. We started out good and we kind of fizzled a little bit . . . we just have to finish.”
Since the defeat, Berry has gone to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, worked out in Florida and spent time at his parents’ home in suburban Atlanta. He did not hide from the second-half defensive debacle in Indy.
“It’s started already with Barry (Rubin, strength and conditioning coach) and the guys; they tell us to finish every rep,” Berry said. “And they told us that in meetings, staying focused through the whole meeting time . . . don’t be satisfied with just doing what the workout says. Try to do something else that’s going to better your game or help the guy next to you.”
Johnson spent most of his off-season after the Pro Bowl in Austin, Texas, where he was working out with running back Jamaal Charles at the University of Texas. On his list of priorities, there wasn’t any room for sitting down and watching the tape of the Colts game.
“This was my third time in the playoffs and in the other ones, I wanted to see the game right afterwards,” Johnson said. “This game, when you know you should have won and it didn’t happen. You’ve got to go into the off-season and get your mind right. Now, if I watch the tape of the Colts game, I can dissect it better. After the game, my mind-frame just wasn’t right. We’ll talk about it, and if we can get back to that position again I promise you we will do a lot better.”
Reid was pleased with the attitude his players displayed upon their return.
“The guys seem to have great energy, which is exciting,” Reid said. “You like to see guys that are excited to get back to work and doing what they love to do. We’ve got a room full of those guys.”