For the first time in Andy Reid’s five-year tenure as the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach, he’s decided to suspend a player for an entire game.
On Wednesday, Reid announced that cornerback Marcus Peters will miss the Chiefs’ game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon due to his actions in the Chiefs’ 38-31 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday.
Peters’ suspension means he will not practice with the team this week, and will also lose a week’s pay.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to suspend him for this game,” Reid said. “He’ll be back the following week.”
Late in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ loss to the Jets, the Chiefs appeared to stop a two-point conversion that would have kept the Chiefs down just five points. But when fellow cornerback Steven Nelson was whistled for defensive holding, Peters — who was visibly frustrated throughout the course of the game — picked up the flag and chucked it into the stands, drawing another penalty.
Peters then walked off the field — all the while, escorted by a Chiefs’ security officer — even though he had not been ejected. He eventually returned to the sideline wearing cleats but no socks.
When asked if Peters was suspended for the flag toss, premature walkoff or both, Reid declined to go into detail. On Monday, however, he indicated that tossing the flag was “the wrong thing to do.”
Reid also declined to elaborate on how Peters — who ominously tweeted “Lol” on Tuesday afternoon — took the news of the suspension.
“This was something Marcus and I discussed,” Reid said. “I’m going to leave it at that ... I deal with the player man to man and we discuss it and we move on from there.”
Reid said it was not an easy call.
“Yeah, I like Marcus Peters, so that’s a difficult thing to do,” Reid said. “Any time you have to do one of these things, that’s not the best part of the job. But I’ve always told you I’m going to do what’s best for the organization at that time.”
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time Reid has had a Chiefs player throw something out of frustration with an official.
During the Chiefs’ 19-14 win over Jacksonville last November, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce yelled and gestured toward two referees because was upset with a pass-interference no-call, prompting one of the referees to flag him for unsportsmanlike conduct. This enraged Kelce, who turned back toward the referee and fired a towel his way. That led to a second unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty and Kelce’s ejection.
The NFL fined Kelce $24,309 for the incident, but Kelce still started the next week in the Chiefs’ 20-17 win over Carolina, catching three passes for 31 yards.
Reid, however, did suspend Kelce later in the season for an undisclosed infraction. The Pro Bowl tight end was forced to sit for the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 37-27 win over the Chargers on Jan. 1. Reid and Kelce declined to talk about the matter afterward.
After his decision to suspend Peters this week, Reid said he spoke to some of his veterans about the move. Quarterback Alex Smith, for one, understood.
“I can’t speak for everybody in here, but certainly I think a lot of the leaders on this team, yeah, I think they’re ready to go — they understand it,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. It’s a hard decision, a hard situation. Coach made it and we’re going. To go back and forth and all this stuff, at this point, is pointless.”
Outside linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon said Reid addressed the team about the move, and didn’t think it necessarily was done in an attempt to discourage in-game emotion.
“Coach has always told us to be ourselves and things like that — he’s a real players’ coach,” Kpassagnon said. “I feel like he made a decision that he thought was best for the team.”
The suspension comes as the Chiefs, losers of four straight and six of their last seven, desperately attempt to right the ship down the season’s home stretch. Sunday’s game against the Raiders is the first of two straight home games against AFC West rivals (Raiders, then Chargers), both of whom have the same 6-6 record as the Chiefs, who are trying to win the division for the second year in a row.
With Peters sidelined, the Chiefs will now be tasked with stopping an Oakland passing offense that shredded them for 417 yards and three touchdowns the last time they met — a 31-30 Raiders win on Oct. 19 that halted their 11-game division winning streak — without their best cornerback.
Peters, a two-time All-Pro, leads the Chiefs in interceptions this season with three. He’s been targeted 52 times and boasts the second-lowest offensive success rate (44 percent) when targeted among qualified corners, according to Football Outsiders. That rate is lower than Peters’ mark in 2016 (55 percent).
Peters will certainly be missed against a Raiders team that boasts one of the league’s best receiving duos in Amari Cooper, who missed the Raiders’ last game because he was in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and Michael Crabtree, who was re-instated this week following a one-game suspension for fighting during Oakland’s game against the Broncos.
But Reid indicated that he has confidence in the locker-room leaders’ ability to hold the team together.
“We’ve got a good locker room — I fully trust them,” Reid said. “We’ll be OK there.”