Andy Reid working from his basement? How the Chiefs are operating during COVID-19

Tribune Content Agency

The sixth-winningest coach in NFL history is sitting at his desk, with a large computer monitor, a laptop and an iPad stationed on a brown antique coffee table his wife provided.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid has the essentials nearby — sticky notes, Extra chewing gum and hand sanitizer. He’s in a rolling office chair, though this room is nothing like an office in the traditional sense.

It’s his basement.

Amid a coronavirus pandemic that has prevented NFL teams from accessing their facilities, the blueprint for a Super Bowl championship defense is being outlined here, on the bottom floor of Reid’s home in Kansas City.

“You know what?” he said. “It’s not bad.”

The Chiefs removed employees from their offices two weeks ago to abide by suggested guidelines from the CDC, restrictions that have since been enforced throughout the NFL.

But the work marches on.

The NFL’s free agency period opened last month, and the Chiefs have acquired offensive lineman Mike Remmers, cornerback Antonio Hamilton and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. The NFL Draft will progress as scheduled later this month, albeit remotely.

And there is self-evaluation and scheme analysis to be done. The Chiefs are conducting meetings via online video-conference calls on Zoom and WebEx. Every day, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo meets online with the defensive coaches while offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy does the same with coaches on his side of the football.

“We’re doing everything from home — working our social distancing from far away here,” Reid said Thursday during a teleconference call he took from his basement. “It’s interesting. For old guys like me, learning all this new technology is pretty good. These young guys, they just whip right through it. For us old guys, we have to learn everything.”

The NFL has announced it will delay the start of offseason on-field programs due to COVID-19, but the length of the face-to-face hiatus remains unknown. Reid has prepared for several scenarios, mapping out plans for different stages of an offseason in which the NFL aims to eventually allow teams back into their respective buildings.

Until then, it’s business as usual in the NFL.

But in a most unusual manner.

“I think it could help in a positive way,” Reid said of the league continuing its calendar through the pandemic, but emphasizing the uncertainty. “But again, I know it’s a sensitive area. There’s two sides to it. There are people that are suffering and dying from this. The league is very aware of that.

“On the other hand, I think it could be a real positive; it gives a little bit of life back to the country right now. I’m sensitive to both sides of that, as I know the league is.”

Absent access to their headquarters, teams are not allowed to invite prospective free-agent signings to Kansas City for a physical or host draft prospects for workouts and in-person meetings. It’s made for obviously more difficult work.

And the most difficult task is next on the docket. The NFL has already announced its draft will proceed as scheduled April 23-25, though it will no longer be held live in Las Vegas.

Reid said Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has continued to evaluate players on tape from his home, and they use WebEx to interview prospects. The process for important medical evaluations is still the works and could include third-party clinics.

The team’s proverbial war room will see some adjustments, too. The New Orleans Saints will set up at a local brewery, coach Sean Payton told reporters earlier this week. The Chiefs have looked into a few options, including forming a war room at a local hotel and separating personnel into different rooms.

“Wherever we do the draft — whether we’re at home or we’re in a hotel — you hope that everybody can stay safe and at the same time get this thing done,” Reid said.


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