Aug 9, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid talks to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Offense Centered Around Alex Smith or Jamaal Charles?


Twitter is a funny place. You can really get to know a person through their “tweets.” For some reason, people like to talk about everything from what movie they’re seeing to what they had for dinner to the size of their…well, you get the point. At its core, the social networking site is a great tool that can really connect fans from all formats with the celebreties they idolize…140 characters at a time. It’s also good for fans to find each other and discuss whatever fandom has brought them together.

The 382 people that follow me on Twitter likely know that I tweet about one thing, the Kansas City Chiefs. They also know I like the hashtags #AS11 and #youhaventseenanythingyet. I got into a bit of a back and forth with another fan last night that inspired my column this morning. Here’s how it went down.

I happened to see a conversation between two people I follow who were arguing with a Broncos fan about Andy Reid vs. John Fox.

To which I responded:


And then this guy comes back with:

The whole conversation was dozens of tweets back and forth, and was really pointless. At about one in the morning, I turned my phone off and finally went to bed. The conversation got me thinking. Who is more important to the Chiefs’ offense?

The Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles to injury in 2011 in the first game of the season. That year with roller coaster coaching, several different running backs and three different quarterbacks (including Tyler Palko, but not Ricky Stanzi) the Chiefs managed to go 7-9 and were a Ryan Succop field goal from the AFC West championship and the playoffs.

Last season, a healthy Charles amassed over 1,500 yards and would have probably been a candidate for “Comeback Player of the Year” had old #18 from the Denver Broncos not had the season he did. Yet, the Chiefs were only able to scrape together two wins. Is Jamaal really the lynchpin of this team?  Did new Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid, build the offense around him?

My answer is obviously an emphatic “NO.” Running backs are not the centerpieces to NFL offenses. Although one Chiefs fan disagreed with me.

The Jacksonville Jaguars aside (and I don’t believe it’s really the case with them either…because the Jags don’t even have an NFL offense) NFL offenses are built around the strengths of the quarterback, not the running back. Take last night’s preseason game against the New Orleans Saints as an example.

Alex Smith led the first team offense on one series of play. During that, while the play calling was as vanilla as we’d expect from a first year (with the team) head coach, first year (with the team) quarterback and first preseason game, Smith was nearly perfect, completing seven of eight passes. The only miss he had was an intentional throw away to avoid the rush, only after he went through his progression and saw he had no options.

Predictably, fans saw Smith complete passes to short and medium routes, spreading his targets around. Not surprising was the fact that Charles was responsible for over half of the production on that one and only first team drive, catching the ball out of the back field and running for a combined 40 yards. My point here is, was that Charles, was that Smith or was that the system?

If you believe Mr. Caron, it was Charles. According to him, if Charles were to be replaced with rookie Kniles Davis or even Dexter McCluster, the team would fall apart because the offense is built around JC.

Why is that?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Charles is one hell of a running back who I think could usurp Priest Holmes in Chiefs history. He is clearly one of the most talented backs in the league. But he doesn’t play the most important position on the field. So why would this thought of a JC-centered offense permeate itself into the “Twittersphere?” My guess is it’s because Alex Smith (cue the Rodney Dangerfield schtick) “can’t get no respect.”

Until next time, Addicts!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Clint Moran

    I think it’s quite obvious that the offense isn’t centered around Charles, I mean, we are talking about Andy Reid, after all. This west coast style offense uses the backs a lot, for sure, but as much in the passing game as the wideouts. How appropriate, considering Charles was more successful in the passing game than on the ground last night. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I was thinking I saw 5 carries for 13 yards. If that’s the centerpiece of our offense, we have some work to do. No, no. I’ll chock that up to a very primitive offensive look in a preseason game and Reid doing the right thing by seeing if smith can operate in a live game with poise and confidence in the short to intermediate routes using the te’s and backs alike. We know what Charles can do, but he is definately not as key to our success this season as smith is, the other 3 qb’s on the roster and their performance last night were glad to oblige in proving my point.

    • Jason Seibel

      I agree with you. Great assessment.

    • Suzi Conger

      well said clint

  • Jason Mickey

    The offense is centered around the philosophy of Andy Reid.

    • Jason Seibel

      Agreed, but what player is the offense designed to exploit? That’s the real question. If the Chiefs had a “gun slinger” like Drew Brees, would the offense look the same or it would it be more matched to his strengths instead of the strengths of AS11?

      • Jason Mickey

        I would think every coach will play to the strengths of the team. If you have Adrian Peterson you probably want to run the ball more. If you have Aaron Rodgers you hand him the keys. In the Chiefs case it’s more of a combo with AS and JC being the focal points. I think Lyle said it best, but to answer, it’s both. The two are not mutually exclusive.

        • Suzi Conger

          AReid told AS11 at camp, ‘you got the keys to the car’. AR has coveted AS11 since AS’s Ute days, knows and trusts his intelligence, QB talents, leadership and integrity.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    IMO, it goes for the whole team but mostly the QB being safe and having time. But it’s getting the RBs plenty of good runs to open up more “lanes” for better passing. The D will worry about a great RB, Charles or Davis, not think about to quick TE or receivers on short routes.

    That’s how I see it, the full team, not just 1 player.

  • Lyle Graversen

    I think of it this way, Alex Smith is the “field general”. He’s in charge out there, he’s running the show. An Andy Reid offense is always going to run through the QB. That having been said, Charles is going to be Smith’s favorite weapon to attack the opposing defense. So I would say that the offense is built around Smith, but that Smith will rely heavily on Charles to excel. Ultimately, you’re talking about the 2 most irreplaceable players on the roster in terms of who they could least afford to lose if they want to make the playoffs.

  • Andrew Kulha

    Reid likes to use running backs in both facents of the offense. It’s my opinion that we’ll see Charles a lot out of the backfield as a receiver, but he’ll still get his touches running the ball.
    That said, the NFL is a QB’s league. The Chiefs success or lack therof will be determined by Smith.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Can I remind everyone that we won 7 games in 2011 without Charles at all, with Cassel at QB, with less talent and inferior coaching to what we have now.

    As much as I love Charles, we need Smith more.

    • Jason Seibel

      That was my argument as well.

  • 44WinMag

    The number 1 strength of our QB is his ability to throw short passes to RBs, so the answer is both are right.