Jul 28, 2013; St. Joseph, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (center) directs practice during training camp at Missouri Western State University. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chief Priority 2013: Getting Out Of The Starting Block

There’s a groundswell of excitement surrounding the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs. Players and coaches have gushed about the possibilities for this team all offseason. The national media has mostly praised the Chiefs’ front office for their offseason progress. With all of this in mind, it’s tough not to have high expectations for this football team.

Unfortunately, that’s the irony of the NFL. There can be stark contrasts between the appearance and the reality of a franchise. Ask the 2-14 Chiefs from a year ago. The opening chapter to their story read a lot like this one does.

Hope springs eternal for every NFL organization in June, so I’ll spare you the preseason platitudes. The arrival of training camp is typically an exciting time of the year for me. This year, it’s little more than a mile marker. If you recall, I cited a concern about the team being well prepared for the start of the regular season in last week’s article.

Consider the following statistic: In the past five seasons, the Chiefs have played sub-.500 football in the first quarter of the season (losing 14 of 20 games). It’s not surprising that their lone postseason berth during that span came in 2010 when Kansas City won 3 of 4 to start the year.

First Quarter Results, 2008-2012

  • 2008: 1-3
  • 2009: 0-4
  • 2010: 3-1
  • 2011: 1-3
  • 2012: 1-3

All twelve teams that qualified for the NFL postseason in 2012 went 2-2 or better in the first four games of the regular season. To take that a step further, since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, just 22 teams that played sub-.500 football in the first month of the season went on to make the playoffs. That’s nearly a quarter-century trend of just one slow-starting turned postseason-eligible team per year. Those aren’t exactly favorable odds.

Kansas City faces Jacksonville, Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Giants to start the season. The initial three games all take place between September 8th and September 19th. That’s three games in just eleven days. Two of those three are road games. Playing .500 football in September should be much less daunting for this group than it has been in years past, but it still won’t be easy.

In my estimation, the biggest obstacle to a fast start will be Kansas City’s offense. Remember what happened the last time the Chiefs had a newly-hired head coach/offensive playcaller, a newly-installed offensive system and a new quarterback? Todd Haley and his Matt Cassel-led offense could manage only 64 points in their first four games. That paltry average of just 16 points per game contributed to four consecutive losses to begin the 2009 season.

I believe Andy Reid and Alex Smith are significant upgrades over their predecessors. Their presence inspires more confidence than Chiefs Kingdom had four years ago at this time. It’s still not quite completely convincing though. That’s what makes this preseason slate of games so vital to success once the regular season rolls around. I’m sure everyone in the organization is hoping to see signs of offensive rhythm when they take the field on August 9th in New Orleans.

An offense that can mature with each preseason matchup sets themselves up well for live NFL action come September. Here’s where three preseason matchups against the 49ers, Steelers, and Packers will come in handy. All three of those teams boasted defenses that surrendered no more than three touchdowns per contest in 2012. What better way to see where you stand as a team than to face 3 of the 11 best sets of defensive #1′s in the NFL from a year ago?

The Chiefs have just 40 days left before the real bullets start flying. Every rep between now and then is monumental. If this team has real hopes of cultivating a winning culture in year one, they cannot waste those opportunities. Players tell you their only goal in the preseason is to “get better everyday.” That needs to be more than another NFL cliche in Kansas City.

Can the new-look Chiefs explode out of the starting block and have an impressive start to their 2013 campaign or is that asking too much of a brand new regime? Is their first quarter schedule conducive to .500 football or will they have to make up ground in the AFC playoff picture as the season wears on?

Use the comment section below to weigh in. As always, the staff here at AA appreciates your readership and support!

Until next time, Addicts!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Altarium

    I think an interesting, and much less quantifiable part of this to consider is where these teams are at mentally.
    Despite the 2-14 records, Jacksonville is far worse off than the Chiefs as far as talent goes. And though I’m not a Jags fan, I get the feeling that their current mindset is to just improve in any way possible. They may want to get to the playoffs and win a super bowl (who doesn’t?) but I think their realistic goal is to just win some more games, maybe get to .500.
    Dallas is that team where people think they can make the playoffs, but they continue to underwhelm. They also clearly have a “now or never” air hanging around them, courtesy of Jerry Jones… so I think they feel the pressure to make the playoffs and win in the playoffs.
    Philly will probably want to beat KC more than any other team this season (I’d say philly fans have mixed feelings about Reid, sure a lot of them were happy to see him go, but I’ve also seen comments that are still grateful for what Reid did). If there’s a team that is the quintessential question mark this season, it’s them. Who’s the QB? What’s the offense going to look like? WR now that Maclin is out? I don’t think Chip Kelly will be an incredibly successful coach, not his first time in the NFL anyways. But expectations for them are high, even no one knows their identity yet (I’d say that they don’t fully know their identity yet either).
    Giants are also unpredictable, but more in the sense that no one knows if they’re going to be playing at a high level that week or sleepwalking through the game. They’re also going to be anxious to get off to a good start since they went from winning the super bowl, to missing the playoffs completely the next year. Ouch.
    So with all of that, here’s what I think:
    Chiefs beat Jacksonville. Jags will be anxious to play us since it’s the start of the season and they’re playing the other team with the worst record last year. BUT they’re not aiming as high as we are. Edge goes to the Chiefs.
    Chiefs beat Dallas. We’ll be playing to achieve greatness and win games. Dallas will again (how many years is it now?) be just playing to keep their jobs.
    Chiefs lose to Philly. Chip Kelly will get the Eagles off to a hot start (I know that above I said he won’t be that successful his first time coaching in the NFL) and they’ll want to show Reid that they can keep it going (even going better) without him. In this game, I can see just about every Philly player with high emotions for this game, whereas on our side the only with high emotions will likely be Reid.
    Chiefs lose to Giants. I don’t think the Giants will be tons better than they were last year (just more driven to make the playoffs), but I could see NY entering this contest at 1-2. Chiefs being 2-1 (in my fantasy world) and NY will be playing hard to avoid an embarrasing 1-3 start. Eli can be inconsistent, but if he’s able to turn it on for this game to get to .500 we may lose this game (though I think it’ll be close).
    whew… long post… sorry. work is slow right now!

    • Chris Tarrants

      I have been saying the same thing about Kelly since they hired him. If there are any questions about him making it on the first go just look at Sabin? The BEST college coach to ever coach and yet he epically failed in the nfl

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I could live with that.

  • kcpauly

    I think we could realistically be 3-1, but of course we could be 1-3 too, who knows? I JUST WANT THIS SEASON STARTED NOW!!!!!!!!!
    Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’m hoping for a split. 2-2…


        “HOPE”, for 4 – 0.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Touche. Hahaha.

      • kcpauly

        As long as we hoping I hope 4-0
        Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!

    • micah stephenson

      Yup we cud go 4-0 or 0-4. Who knows.

  • Jim Harper

    I understand your reasoning, but the preseason games tell us almost nothing except who the final 53 are. Only in game 3 does the first unit play into the 2nd half. Plus when they are in there, they are going to keep it pretty vanilla because we will get scouted and they are not wanting to give any team anything but a surprise!

    • Justin Jones

      i agree except for one big thing that we honestly havent had in years. a team that can win pre-season games builds confidence and momentum coming into the regular season. i dont remember the last time we even won 2 pre-season games let alone 3. lol my point is that wininng even those games does help the start of the regular season.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I’m not concerned about winning those games. My only desire is to see the 1′s play well.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I disagree. I think even with vanilla schemes, the offense should be able to move the football. I see good football teams scoring points in the preseason every year.

      • Jim Harper

        Well of course you do, but mostly by the guys trying to make the team. The first unit does not play very much except in game 3.

        • CHIEFS4LIFE

          Remember when Trent Green’s offenses smoked D’s in the pre-season? That creates excitement and optimism. Winning (scoring) is huge in pre-season. And if you can’t score against a vanilla D, that tells us a lot also.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Game 3 is when they play into the 2nd Half. They play a few offensive series in each game prior though. That’s enough to see offensive rhythm and for them to produce.

      • micah stephenson

        Forget vanilla. I’m running my plays. Thats wat preseason is for. To see what plays will and won’t work in live action against another team. I’d run up the score in a preseason game cus scoring alot is wat I expect to do in the game.

  • Da Menace

    Well the talent is there, we can all agree. What I believe is that a successful first quarter ( and season) will rely upon is good chemistry. It will take time..

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Chemistry is something I think both units will have. We retained a solid cores offensively and defensively. It’s a firm grasp of those systems and execution that I am worried about.

  • micah stephenson

    What’s so disrespectful is Jags, Dal, Phi, Ny all looking at they schedules saying “The Chiefs, that’s a win”. All those teams expect to beat us and won’t b scared or unexpecting of the new players or plays. Dal, Phi, Ny know what to expect from Ried.

  • FaAmos

    I know everyone says preseason doesn’t matter and technically it doesn’t count but it does matter and I would really like to see a Cheifs team to play well and win a few preseason games this year. I don’t remember when the Chiefs looked good in the preseason so to see Alex Smith and the 1′s to come in and score some points the Chase Daniles and Tyler Bray continue the ball movement and get KC used to winning, I’ll leave Ricky Stanzi out of that conversation because he’s a waste of a roster spot and won’t be a Chief once week one starts of the regular season. Tyler Bray might be a total project but how many third string QB’s are ready to come in and play, there’s no reason to hold into Stanzi another year since he hasn’t shown any progress or promise her again.

  • FaAmos

    I hope Dorsey is finally that true GM that KC has been missing, its hard not to and I don’t recommend it but to look back at the last few draft class’s and to see who we passed over is truly hard to swallow to see how close we were at having that elusive franchise QB. Hopefully Smith will hold the fort down for KC long enough for us to draft the next Colin Keapednick or Russel Wilson.