Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs: Pass Protection Must Improve For Kansas City To Have Success in 2013

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to like about the Kansas City Chiefs heading into 2013, but the team does have a few glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed before the season begins.

One of those weaknesses is the lack of a true No. 2 wide receiver, and I discussed that at length in this feature.

Another issue is pass protection though, and that was extremely evident in Kansas City’s 15-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers this past Friday night.

The 49ers sacked Chiefs’ quarterbacks seven times during the preseason clash, which resulted in 39 negative yards for Kansas City. Seven sacks is seven too many, even in the preseason, and coach Andy Reid discussed the issue in a recent conference call with the media, per Reid Ferrin of KCChiefs.com:

“I think we have to do a better job of seeing them (blitzes) and picking them up,” coach Reid said.

“Sacks kind of get distributed around to everybody. If you want to point at just the offensive line, it’s not always the offensive line; everybody’s got a little piece in that, so the bottom line is, we have to do better and those things can’t happen.”

Starting quarterback Alex Smith also opened up pass protection, per Ferrin:

“I think that kind of falls on all of us,” Smith said.

“There were a few times that we didn’t bring in more than we had, the ball has got to come out and we have to execute outside. A few communication things up front we have to get ironed out.”

Finally, according to No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, the game was a learning experience for the offense (Ferrin):

“Tonight was a big learning night for us,” Fisher said.

“We missed on some plays; I missed on plays. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win. There are things we need to improve on offense and we’ll watch the film, see our mistakes and learn from them and come back next week and try to pull out the win.”

We’ve talked ad nauseam about the Chiefs’ offensive struggles here on Arrowhead Addict since Friday night. Much of it has come down to the passing game, and the fact that Smith hasn’t gone deep much, if at all. Dwayne Bowe is a huge target with superstar potential, so it really is perplexing to see that he has zero catches through two weeks, even in the preseason.

The Chiefs need a No. 2 wideout to step up, but pass protection also needs to improve. There were times Friday night where the 49ers were all over Smith and the Chiefs’ quarterbacks, and no matter how good the receiver on the edge is, if a quarterback doesn’t have time to throw—he’s not going to be able to go deep.

It makes sense that Smith has been targeting tight end Anthony Fasano  and the running backs out of the backfield. At least on Friday night, he didn’t have the time to look anywhere else.

Getting Jamaal Charles back will help, because if anything, defenses will have to respect the running game, and that will force them to be less aggressive getting into the backfield.

Still, the NFL is a pressure league just as much as it’s a quarterback league. Defenses can dial-up a plethora of blitzes and pressure formations, and they’re so complex that even the best quarterbacks in the league have a hard time recognizing them from time to time. ads

That means it comes down to pass protection.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs have the offensive pieces to be great in 2013. Smith is a serviceable quarterback, Bowe and Charles are stars, and the tight ends and Dexter McCluster will really provide some mismatches.

None of that will mean anything if the Chiefs’ offensive line can’t protect the quarterback and give Smith time to find those weapons, though.

Pass protection needs to improve asap.

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Tags: Alex Smith Andy Reid Dwayne Bowe Eric Fisher Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs

  • gonzangkc1

    Sign – WR-Brandon Lloyd – ASAP
    (before the Chargers get him) – tried of Jonathan “drop the BAL-aldwin”.
    Brandon can still play the game at a High level, is from Kansas City,
    he’s a humble Hard Working player and can be a mentor to younger WR and
    players. Plays with a pro-active attitude not a show boating attitude
    like (TO or Chad Johnson).

    Chiefs Fan For Life – living in Denver, CO

    • Pealvin

      No $$$ I think to bring in anyone else. I like Baldwin this is his last shot. He’s hungry. I agree with the article that the pass protection needs to get better. When we have everything working on the O-line we will really be dangerous.

      • Jordan

        God I would love to see Baldwin develop…BUT he does not look or seem hungry he’s dropping balls losing focus and playing generally disinterested football had high hopes still have high expectations he’s a 1st round pick with loads of potential he needs to play like it we’ve seen flashes need consistency

        • Pealvin

          I agree that he has dropped passes he should catch, but that potential will come out. Lets just see when we have started the season.

      • Jim Harper

        If he is hungry I can’t see it.

    • Jim Harper

      I agree with you about Lloyd. He is solid and can probably come cheap. Baldwin does not seem to have his head (or his hands) in the game. He is bringing down the entire receiving corps. It’s the reason Bowe has not had anything thrown his way. Teams are putting a safety over the top and a corner underneath and taking him out of the game. He is running terrible routes and does not appear to be going full speed.

  • Randall Miller

    Missing a huge point….the ego of Harb augh was evident as ever making damn sure he made Alex look like a bum…more blitzes than I have ever seen in over 50 years of watching pro football….Tat Boy was in and yanked him with -3 yards passing. This game was ego of a classless coach. You DO NOT lose your starting position over an injury.

  • Joe Myers

    Ok the fan sided marquee at how he top is blocking my screen get rid of it I can’t see wy words I type and a can’t tell people misspelling words

  • Joe Myers

    Ok patrick arrowhead addict I’m on my phone all the time all I can see is an add and thiers no way to make it go awway its really really f-ing annoying . I can’t see what I type all I see is this add do something about I’m getting really pissed off !!!!!!

    • Jason Seibel

      What browser are you using?

  • chief4ever

    I agree – better protection always ! But, maybe the best defense in NFL , no Charles, no extra game planning for blitz, trying to get Baldwin a chance to make the team, very vanilla offense…..it needs attention, but I am very pleased with the progress so far. Defense, special teams are very promising and I think the offense has many more options. Go Chiefs !

  • Calchiefsfan

    You know what, it was the second game of the preseason. We played against probably the toughest front 7 in football and Randall might be on to something with Harbaugh’s ego and not wanting Smith to play well. In any case Hudson missed all of last year, Fisher is a rookie and Allen is still learning the game. Plus Smith has to get better at his reads in this offense. Funny thing is that once Charles is back it’s not just that he is an offensive threat, he’s also an excellent pass protector. He stuffs blitzing linebackers on a regular basis, (unlike Draughn). The guy can really do it all. Time is what is needed to get the offense in sync but if I don’t see real progress by the time we play Dallas, the second game of the year, that’s when I’ll start to seriously worry.

    I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh next week where the Chiefs should have a little easier D to face and another week under their belt of playing together. Even if Charles doesn’t play I will expect the Chiefs 1′s to move the ball and score TDs on the Steelers.

  • chief4ever

    Also- the Randall Miller info below is Spot On ! Harbaugh’s are both good but they are “driven” and this guy had to show that trading Alex was a brilliant move and that Alex was only valuable because Harbaugh was his coach ..we will see…..Go Chiefs !

  • chief4ever

    Not that worried about 2nd receiver…Avery for now…as long as we have 3 TE’s , Dexter, perhaps Wylie in the slot , Charles and Davis out of the backfield our passing game will do what we need. Those options will give 1 on 1 coverage to Dwayne enough to give him opportunities and will give Alex the time needed to get the ball out in time. Go Chiefs !

  • chief4ever

    Harbaugh wanted to make Alex look bad and himself look good…did not happen ! Like special teams a lot..many options…I would rather keep 4 TE’s for this offense and carry one less WR…Avery will do fine. Go Chiefs !