The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that the Chiefs didn’t call a running play during the team portions of the first two days of training camp.
We’re sure the Chiefs will work on the running game in time, but Reid has made his priorities clear early on. And with good reason. No team scored fewer points than the Chiefs last season, thanks in large part to an anemic passing attack that finished last in the NFL.
The running game, by comparison, ranked fifth. Jamaal Charles will report to camp Thursday with the rest of the veterans.
Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray worked against a defense mostly comprised of rookies. Chiefs quarterbacks have yet to throw an interception in two days, which either speaks to the QB group’s Steve Young-like accuracy or a complete lack of catching ability by the young defenders. You decide.
“I knew when I came to Kansas City Tony was an athletic tight end, good route runner, tough kid and that he had made a lot of plays for the Chiefs,’’ said Pederson, the offensive coordinator. “I know he had the setback with the knee and all that, but it’s excellent to have him out there in this camp and see him running around full speed.’’
The trouble is that Moeaki made most of those plays when he was a rookie. Since then, he missed all of the 2011 season with torn knee ligaments and caught just 33 passes and scored one touchdown in a disappointing 2012 season.
Moeaki had the knee surgery after the season, and the Chiefs were in no mood to wait for him to return to health. So they signed one tight end, veteran Anthony Fasano, as a free agent and drafted another, Travis Kelce, in the third round.
Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey return from last season. Jackson, of course, is the former No. 3 overall pick and restructured his deal to stay in Kansas City this season. That the current regime was interested in having him come back, and interested in taking the time to restructure his contract, says something about him this season. Expect a big role for him. Bailey, on the other hand, has been a reserve since the Chiefs made him a third round pick. This position group takes a huge leap if Bailey can push for regular playing time.
The answer in our 2012 vs. 2013 comparison comes from Glenn Dorsey and Mike DeVito. What do their contracts say about who is the better player? Dorsey signed a two-year, $6 million deal in San Francisco, averaging $3 million per year. DeVito signed a three-year, $12.6 million deal, averaging $4.2 million per year. The market places a higher value on DeVito’s skills.
But with just 39 players on the field — first-round pick Eric Fisher has yet to sign and work at right tackle — the ranks have been too thin to open the full playbook, both offensively and defensively. With just three defensive linemen (counting deep snapper Brad Madison) and seven offensive linemen, the first two days were basically a passing camp, and the Chiefs did not run the football once in the brief 11-on-11 team periods.
Even Reid acknowledged the limitations.
“You’ve got like one-deep,” he said of the depth along the lines.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly hyping Smith as a top-10 fantasy quarterback, though it seems worth pointing out that he nearly achieved that distinction for the 49ers in the 2011 season. Smith didn’t come close to 4,000 passing yards or 30 touchdown passes, but what he did thrive at was getting the football where it needed to go and avoiding turnovers. Smith completed 61.3 percent of his passes and tossed a mere five interceptions in 16 games that season. And though there’s no comparison between him and someone like Drew Brees, avoiding negative fantasy points does serve a nice purpose. Perhaps Smith will reach 3,200 passing yards and 20 touchdowns this season, making him a serviceable fantasy reserve, but it’s his effect on his teammates that fantasy owners should be most interested in.