The Kansas City Chiefs were 2-14 last season. You don’t go 2-14 because of a few bad breaks. You go 2-14 because you have massive holes and flaws in your team. Now, a case can be made that the Kansas City Chiefs had more talented players than a typical 2-14 roster (the 6 Pro Bowl players being exhibit A), but that only highlights just how big of other flaws that team had. You don’t fix 2-14 overnight. You don’t go from 2-14 to Super Bowl champions in one offseason. It just doesn’t happen.
That having been said, the Chiefs have made major strides in turning around their struggling organization. They have a new GM, head coach, quarterback, and once the 53 man roster is set a week from now it will include several new faces that weren’t a part of the 2-14 debacle that was the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs.
Obviously, no one really knows how this team will perform until the regular season starts. However, with three preseason games in the books (including the third game where the starters play the most) we at least have a feel for what this new team looks like.
It hasn’t been perfect.
It hasn’t always been pretty.
If you are wanting an article that reassures you that every single problem has been fixed, you’re going to be disappointed.
This team still has flaws.
The offensive line has looked suspect. The starters have been pushed around at times and the depth is a real concern, especially on the interior.
The Chiefs have a shortage of defensive backs that have adequate coverage skills. Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Eric Berry, and Kendrick Lewis will be fine if they are healthy, but after that there are serious concerns about the coverage skills of the reserves.
And then there’s the conservative nature of the KC passing game. Some fans are feeling good after finally seeing Alex Smith get the WRs involved on Saturday night, and the TD drive to end the first half was definitely a thing of beauty. However, many fans still have legit concerns about the offense’s ability to consistently move the ball and put up enough points.
If you feel like this has started off a little on the “gloomy” side for an article titled “Why The Chiefs Will Be Much Improved In 2013″, don’t fear we’re about to get to the goods.
The Kansas City Chiefs WILL be much improved this season, and that’s not just some “rah rah” homer rambling. The Chiefs have showed some things in the first three preseason games that back this up.
Here are a few:
1. Andy Reid is a huge upgrade over Romeo Crennel and Brain Daboll
Look, I could spend a WHILE breaking down why this is true and linking to other articles I’ve done on Andy Reid and how his coaching style is getting through to players, but does anyone even need convincing of this? I think this is pretty obvious to anyone that has been following the Chiefs. This is probably the biggest upgrade for the Chiefs. If not Reid, than the biggest upgrade has to be………
2. Alex Smith is a huge upgrade over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn
Some will call this a no brainer. However, some are still of the mind that Smith IS the same basic QB as Cassel/Quinn. Let me address that as quickly as possible. If anyone is of the mind that Smith will become Joe Flacco and launch 50 yard bombs down the field or take up Brett Favre’s “gunslinger” mentality, they are delusional. That isn’t who Smith is. So if NOT being that type of QB makes him “like” Cassel and Quinn in that their game is more based in shorter and safer throws, then I guess you could say they are similar in that regard.
However, that doesn’t mean that fans should expect Smith to put up similar results. If you go back to last season I don’t think you’d find that most KC fans were complaining about Cassel/Quinn not being Joe Flacco or Brett Favre. What you would find is people complaining about their poor accuracy and constant turnovers.
That was justified.
Despite throwing shorter and safer passes, Cassel/Quinn only completed 57.6% of their passes.
They also committed a combined 27 turnovers. If you factor in pass attempts, sacks, and rushes Cassel and Quinn were responsible for 560 plays last season. That means they committed a turnover once every 20.74 plays that they were responsible for.
Alex Smith on the other hand, doesn’t have those problems. Over the course of the past two seasons Smith completed 64.3% of his passes. So far in the preseason he has completed 64.6% of his passes. That’s pretty consistent. That track record should give KC fans faith that Smith will complete a much higher percentage of passes than the KC QBs did last season.
The turnover difference is even more staggering. Over the past two seasons in San Francisco, Smith had a combined 814 plays (pass attempts, sacks, rushing attempts) where he was responsible for the ball. In those 814 plays he only had 13 turnovers.
So in 254 more plays than Cassel/Quinn had last season, he had 14 fewer turnovers.
While Cassel/Quinn averaged a turnover every 20.74 plays, Smith has only averaged a turnover once every 62.6 plays the past two seasons.
His play this preseason backs that up. He has gone 56 plays thus far without turning the ball over.
Alex Smith has his flaws. He may not be an “elite” QB, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a massive upgrade over the QB play the Chiefs had in 2012.
3. Special Teams Play
Do I even need to go into detail about how much better the KC special teams are under Dave Toub? If you aren’t aware of this you clearly haven’t been watching. You want to see a jaw dropping stat? Check out this tweet I ran across after the game Saturday night.
— SeanKeeler (@SeanKeeler) August 25, 2013
I think that about sums it up, doesn’t it? Even if KC isn’t getting return TDs every single game, the field advantage that can be won by winning the special teams battle can often be a difference in a close game.
4. Dontari Poe Is Becoming A Monster
This one is hard to justify in numbers or even words if you haven’t watched Poe play this preseason. Simply put, he looks like the dominant physical force that you want a defensive lineman taken in the first round to be. Imagine everything you hoped Ryan Sims and Glenn Dorsey would be. Well that is what Poe has shown flashes of throughout the entire preseason. He’s getting a push up the middle on passing plays. He’s not only demanding double teams, but beating them to make stops in the run game. He’s shedding blockers and moving laterally across the field to make stops in the run game that most 335 pound men couldn’t get to. I’ve also noticed that the attention that teams have had to give Poe has left Tyson Jackson almost exclusively in one on one situations. This has allowed him to make plays as well.
Dontari Poe had a solid rookie season, but if he becomes a physically dominant player in the middle of KC’s defense that will be a definite advantage that last year’s team didn’t have.
5. Bob Sutton’s Attacking Defense Will Lead To More QB Sacks
Last season KC ranked 29th in the NFL in QB sacks. Romeo Crennel’s version of the 3-4 was a “bend but don’t break” scheme that rarely sent extra defenders after the QB. That is going to change under Bob Sutton. We’ve already seen some of this in the preseason and it’s safe to assume that they are saving most of their blitz packages for the regular season.
Getting pressure on the QB helps a defense in a number of areas. Obviously, when you sack the QB you put them in a 2nd/3rd and long situation which increases the odds of getting a stop on that drive. Putting pressure on a QB also increases the likelihood of creating turnovers as some QBs will make a bad throw to avoid the rush. Finally, if teams know they have a strong rush coming at them they are more likely to keep multiple players in to pass protect which makes a defense’s job in coverage easier.
If Bob Sutton’s defense does do a better job of getting to the QB, as we’ve seen signs of in the preseason, it will be an improvement over the 2012 team.
So there you go Addicts, that’s why you should feel confident that the Chiefs will be much improved in 2013. I don’t feel like any of those reasons are far fetched or unrealistic. Will it be enough to get the Chiefs in the playoffs? I don’t know. Like I said at the start of this piece, this team does still have flaws and you don’t go from 2-14 to Super Bowl champs in one offseason. However, if there are any “doom and gloomers” out there that are thinking that we’re in for another season of despair this year, I think you are ignoring some clear (and vital) upgrades. Baring injuries, I feel safe predicting at least 7 wins this season, with the possibility of more.
I’ve been wrong before, but I do feel like the upgrades listed above will make a big difference. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!