It’s quite the difference a year can make. This time last season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 1-7. They hadn’t held the lead in a game all season. Their only win had come on a Ryan Succop field goal in overtime against the New Orleans Saints in week three.
Heading into week nine last season, the Chiefs defense had only managed to get to the quarterback 10 times in seven games. They only had five interceptions and only two forced fumbles. They had lost their games by an average of 15.3 points per game. That’s more than two touchdowns.
Of the 25 starting players on the Chiefs roster from 2012 (11 on offense, 11 on defense and three specialists), there are only three new faces on defense. Defensive end Mike Devito replaced Glenn Dorsey who traded barbeque for sushi and headed for San Francisco in the offseason. Corner back Standford Routt started last season opposite of Brandon Flowers, but was cut midseason. Sean Smith has effectively taken that spot and has even excelled at times. The third change on defense is linebacker Akeem Jordan who replaced Jovan Belcher. We all know what that change took place.
Are these three members of the defense the reason for the complete turnaround? After all, the Chiefs defense leads the league in sacks thus far with 36. That’s more than three times the amount they had last season. Is the defense truly the reason for this unprecedented turnaround by the Chiefs?
The offense had a bigger facelift than the defense. Through seven games last season, the Chiefs were only averaging 13 points per game. They hadn’t led a game all season. Jon Baldwin, Nate Eacheus, Ryan Lilja, Eric Winston, Tony Moeaki and of course Matt Cassel were all starters on the Chiefs offense last year. Did replacing Baldwin with Donnie Avery lead to such a dramatic turnaround? The Chiefs’ offense now averages 19 points per game, nearly a full touchdown more than their counterparts last year. Combine that with the five points per game that the defense and special teams have added with their scoring ability and you have a team that is 8-0 instead of 1-6.
But where is the difference? Is it Alex Smith? Last year at this time, Matt Cassel had thrown 10 interceptions and fumbled the ball six times. That’s two turnovers a game when the defense was creating none of their own. This season, Smith has only thrown four picks through eight games. That’s .5 turnovers per game. Plus, the defense is getting plenty of their own. So many, in fact that they lead the league in that category.
So, who is to thank for the turn around?
I submit to you, Andy Reid. He has brought a feeling of unity and family to this team that hasn’t been here in a long time – maybe forever.
I submit to you Bob Sutton. After spending years and years in Rex Ryan’s large – but ever diminishing, thanks to weight loss surgery – shadow, he’s showing that he is an elite defensive coach. He’s taking the team that the “defensive genius” Romeo Crennel assembled, and dominating the league.
I submit to you Branden Albert who is playing in a contract year once again and has been charged with leading and mentoring a young offensive line. They’re not what we hoped they would be, but they’re getting better.
I submit to you Derrick Johnson who is has been on this team longer than just about any other player. He’s been here through the ups and the downs. He leads the defense not with words, but actions. And he’s finally allowed to play the type of defense he should have always been playing.
I submit to you Dwayne Bowe. Bowe isn’t the leading receiver on this team in receptions or yardage. Bowe isn’t even the second leading receiver on this team. However, unlike many, so-called #1 receivers, you don’t hear Bowe on the sideline screaming at his quarterback to throw him the ball. You don’t hear Bowe in press conferences disparaging his quarterback and the passing offense. Bowe does his job. If the play is coming to him, he catches the ball. If the play is away from him, he does his best to sell it. If he has to block, he throws some blocks that would make any lineman proud.
Yes, I submit to you Ales Smith. Smith came to this team looking for a new start, much like his new head coach. Though the situation was much different than the one that brought his predecessor to Kansas City, many fans reacted poorly because of how that last debacle turned out. But, even the biggest haters can’t deny that since Smith donned a Chiefs jersey, the team hasn’t lost a game. For what Alex lacks in “deep ball” threat and huge yardage statistics, he makes up for with his leadership and the fact that the entire team – both offense and defense – plays for him.
Finally, I submit to you Clark Hunt. The CEO of the Chiefs listened to his fan base. Perhaps more than any owner of any company in the history of owners and companies, Mr. Hunt listened to his customer and got them exactly what they want. Wins. He brought in the right people and put them in the right places to excel.
What do you think, Addicts? Who is most responsible for the Chiefs turnaround? Let us know what you think by sounding off in the comments section below. Thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!