Can Andy Reid reroute Chiefs to what they were early in the season?

Updated: November 14, 2017

9:10 AM ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Having two full weeks without a game gave the Kansas City Chiefs some time to reflect on where they’ve been and, more importantly, where they’re headed.

After looking close to invincible the first five games, the Chiefs lost three of four heading into their bye. At 6-3, they still lead the AFC West by two games, but the command they once had of the AFC’s overall standings is gone. The Chiefs are a game behind the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The challenge for coach Andy Reid and his staff, starting with Sunday’s game against the Giants in New Jersey (1 p.m. ET, CBS), is to reroute the Chiefs back to what they were early in the season. If they can do that, the Chiefs could still be something special.

“I’ve seen it before the last couple games here, where both sides were playing well at the same time,” Reid said. “When we do that, we’re a tough team to stop. We’ve got to continue to do that. If you get beat on a play, it doesn’t matter what side of the ball you’re on or special teams, it doesn’t matter, you step back up, and you challenge again. That’s what you do. We’ve got to get back to doing that better, both sides of the ball. That’s my responsibility, that we do that.

“Stick to your knitting. Do what you’re good with. That allows you to do some play-action, and that allows you to do some of that dropback game and then keep yourself in regular situations. It’s very difficult when you’re second-and-15, second-and-20, third-and-15, third-and-20. Those aren’t real high success-rate plays.”

Fixing what ails the defense is more complicated. The Chiefs weren’t playing well on defense early in the season, even when they were winning. Their defensive problems were masked by better play in the red zone, some timely turnovers and a high-scoring offense.

The Chiefs lost one of their most important defensive pieces, safety Eric Berry, to a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener, and he isn’t coming back this season.

They recently welcomed back cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Tamba Hali after each missed the first half of the season with injuries. But their returns might not be enough to make a significant difference.

“Getting [Hali] back in, I thought his energy was great, but again, there’s no easy way of incorporating someone into a game,” Reid said. “They can practice and do that, but where you’re at now in the season, when you’re required to take the pads off [for practice], it’s hard to get that same intensity level. So getting those guys back in and playing, Nelson is just getting back in the swing of things.

“These are all things I look forward to as we get back together and putting on the final stretch here in the season. I know what kind of talent we have. I’m confident of that. I need to make sure offensively, defensively and on special teams that we’re all doing the right things and we’re doing our part from a coaching standpoint [to give] our players the best opportunity to make plays.”

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