Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve taken it easy on the offense. I’m not sure if it’s because the Chiefs have been winning, or that they haven’t turned the ball over 8 times a game, or that they seem to come through with scores when they need them, or if it’s all of the above – but I’ve let the Chiefs off the hook for mediocre performances. I’ve given them a pass, and you can see it as broad as day in my last two sets of post-game grades (maybe more). I’ve caught flack from the Addicts because of it, and deservedly so.
I think I’ve been subconsciously grading on a curve. The way I was looking at it was like this: if you get shut out and lose the game, you get an F. If you’re held to a field goal and barely move the ball, you get a D. If you score a touchdown, and move the ball okay, you get a C. If your running-back dominates a game, and you score in key moments during the game, you get a B – and so on.
But that’s not fair. Now that the Chiefs are 6-0, and look like contenders in this league, it’s time to hold this team to a higher standard. I think 6-0 blinded my objective eye, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, or too prideful to admit that many of the points made in my column from last week were spot on, and I was off the mark.
This got me thinking: how do we compare to last year’s team? To answer that, I did some digging, and what I found was frightening. Let me preface this by saying, I am comparing a 16-game season, to a 6-game season. I know this, and I’m sure that when the season is over, the numbers will be different. But still – the basic, surface-level numbers I looked at were pretty shocking. Let’s take a look at Yards Per Game, Points Per Game, and 3rd-down Percentage. I’ve put 2012’s full-season numbers against 2013 through 6 games in the chart below:
|YPG||319.2 (24th)||326.3 (25th)|
|PPG||13.2 (32nd)||25.3 (8th)|
|3rd PCT||33 (27th)||33 (27th)|
As you can see, the Chiefs have improved in both YPG and PPG, but haven’t gotten any better on 3rd down so far. Additionally, this year they’ve scored on special teams and/or defense in 5 of their 6 games in 2013. If you take those scores away, their PPG average drops from 25.3 to 19.5, thus dropping them from 8th in the NFL, all the way to 25th (just barely a notch over the Cleveland Browns). As Andrew Kulha wrote in his piece on Monday, Eric Fisher looked awful against Oakland. For that matter, the offensive line as a group has been underwhelming. Additionally, the ball-control offense that the Chiefs are currently running doesn’t scare anyone. So what’s the difference then? Why have I been so accepting of such mediocre offensive football?
I think it’s because of the Chiefs have drastically reduced the turnovers. In his first 6 games in 2012, Matt Cassel had thrown 10 interceptions and lost 6 fumbles. That’s right, 16 turnovers in 6 games. Alex Smith? Through six games this season he’s thrown 3 interceptions and lost only 1 fumble for a total of 4 turnovers. That’s pretty drastic, and is a huge reason (in addition to the dramatic defensive turnaround) that the Chiefs are 6-0. Smith is exactly as advertised, which is both good and bad depending on who you ask. He’s not going to throw the ball deep and he’s not going dominate a game, but he’s also not going to turn the ball over, and he will not lose the game.
As far as the offense goes, it’s time to put it together. We’re nearing the halfway point, and there’s a good chance that the defense will not continue to bail the offense out every game. Now that the team is 6-0, it’s time to raise the bar. If you want to play with the big boys, you’ve got to score points.
So – is this the best the offense will be? What do they need to do to wake up? More Bowe? A healthy tight end? Changes on the O-line? Sound off below, Addicts.