Reid Taps Reed To Help Chiefs Receivers

From St. Joseph, Missouri

To look at him, he could suit up and step right in at wide receiver for the Chiefs. Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed is in the house with the Chiefs at Missouri Western State University, working with wide receivers as one of the NFL coaching interns.

As Chiefs fans know, he has his work cut out for him. As Reed works alongside receivers coach David Culley he’s working with a position where inconsistency has plagued Chiefs receivers. WR Dwayne Bowe, the seven-year veteran receiver who could/should be setting the example, remains one of the most inconsistent.

So Bowe, Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster and the rest have the chance to tap Reed’s experience to try and learn how to be consistent, professional receivers.

“He’s interested in coaching,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “This is a nice introduction. He brings some great knowledge from a receiver’s standpoint – all the little subtle things, releases, techniques. He can help them.”

Where Reed might be able to offer the most help is on the mental side of the game. Baldwin, Bowe and McCluster all have skills. But except for the 2010 season when Bowe caught 72 passes for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns – and the Chiefs reached the playoffs – receivers have dropped too many passes in critical situations.

“I played with some of the best who ever played the game,” said Reed, who was introduced to pro football by former Buffalo wide receiver Jerry Butler, who demanded excellence. “We were all in tune with what was happening in Buffalo, every detail. With younger guys it is tough, those little details. The smallest of things mean a lot and are going to make the difference between winning and losing.”

Reed points out that everyone in the NFL can run. Everyone can run routes. Everyone can catch. But not everyone puts in the time and effort to be on the same page with the quarterback every play. Not everyone can put those skills to work at critical junctures in the game.

“The physical part of the game is only about 10 percent because everybody out here can run,” Reed said. “You get beat up mentally. It is the effort. How do you run the route? What did the quarterback think? I just try to keep them mentally sharp about the game.”

Reed played in an era when the league was not as pass-happy as it is today. The most passing yardage the Bills ever had in a season when he was playing was 3,817 yards. Last year the average passing yardage for a team was 3,936 yards.

In his best season Reed caught 90 passes. He once had 1,312 yards receiving. The most touchdown passes he caught was 10. But during those years Buffalo went to four Super Bowls. He played in seven straight Pro Bowls.

“When I came in as a rookie in 1985, a guy named Jerry Butler really took me under his wing,” Reed said. “He saw something in me just by looking in my eyes. I was like a little kid holding a helmet. I followed that guy. Everything he did, I wanted to be like that. I wanted to do it that way. That’s what these kids need. Find somebody and really just do your craft. Your craft is really important.”

The closest Bowe has come to that kind of example is under former coach Todd Haley, who for all his faults as a head coach knew what made a good wide receiver. He tried to instill in Bowe the work habits of Cardinals’ great Larry Fitzgerald, who Haley had worked with as an assistant with Phoenix. For 2010 it seemed to work.

Bowe, regarded as the Chiefs best receiver, is at the point in his career where he could be the example young players look to. He’s going into his seventh year. While he might be the best the Chiefs have, he isn’t in the league’s elite because of his inconsistency.

“It’s very hard,” Reed said. “It’s a different kid now than it was 25 years ago. There are so many distractions in their path. But if you are a real pro and want to succeed in this game, that’s what you have to do.

“I try to talk to the players, not only about the mental part of the game, but I can help in the teaching too. I am getting questions from them, and that is what training camp is about. We talk about anything, on the field, off the field, whatever they want. Somebody taught me the same things. The way I approaching it now is I give it back to these guys the same way I got it. I am just going on my experience as a player. It’s up to the players to get that out of me as well.”

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