Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (center) watches a replay against the Houston Texans in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Who Is Responsible For the Kansas City Chiefs Turnaround?

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!

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  • BigGil

    How do you not mention John Dorsey who respects and listens to his head coach, but who never fails to constantly turn over stones looking for players who can make this team better? Who has brought in enough players by either free agency or the waiver wire that we’ve been reminded that depth players can have a significant positive impact on a team? How do you forget that guy?

    For the record, I think it’s a combination of all mentioned working as a team, but that that should also include Dorsey.

    • Brian Martasin

      Great point, especially compared to his assenine predecessor.

  • freshmeat62

    I think the biggest thanks has to go to Hunt. If he hadn’t started the ball rolling by biting the bullet and paying off Pioli, we’d still be here this year yelling about what a cheapskate Hunt was, and making the guy who has the flying message plane over Arrowhead, rich. I imagine he’s the only guy around who doesn’t like the change. Turns out Pioli actually drafted some decent players, he just didn’t know how to hire coaches that could bring out their best.

    Like Peterson 24 years earlier had been lucky that Schottenheimer was available, Hunt was lucky that Reid was free. I think he and Dorsey will eventually build a team that will always be competitive. Right now Fisher isn’t living up to 1st overall pick, but lets give him another year and see how he does. Otherwise, I think Dorsey’s personnel decisions have been pretty good, in getting the best QB available at the time, and updating the secondary w/ Sean Smith and finding that Cooper kid.

    I complain a lot about the offense, especially the line, but over all, the team is doing a lot better than I expected. Granted they have had a weak schedule so far, the toughest teams they’ve faced are probably middle of the pack teams, but they are beating them. This tells me that the Chiefs are probably a top 1/3 of the league team.

    If the offense can improve next year, and the D remain the same (I don’t know who they can lose in FA next year, other than Albert), they will be a SB contender.

  • micah stephenson

    Andy Ried and Bob Sutton. I knew Alex wasn’t scrubby and he definitely ain’t the reason. Romeo C was clueless as a head coach. Andy Ried has made that big if difference. Also Suttons scheme and playcalling has to b up there.

    • Jason Seibel

      As big of a change as Reid and Sutton have made this season, they’re not on the field getting it done every Sunday. That’s on the players who are on the field every game. And, as I said above, most of those players are the same guys who were 2-14 last year.

      • micah stephenson

        Exactly. Most of them are the same players. Ried is able to do waaaaay more than Romeo with almost the same players. And don’t go acting like Alex is the reason we are 8 and 0. Its better deffense, special teams, a lil game management from Alex.

        • stevekozak


      • micah stephenson

        We brought n A LOT of good coaches. On defense players like S.Smith, Davito, Jordan, Robinson, Demps, Abdulla, Cooper, Parker, are all paying off. On offense…they dumped one of the best rts in winston, drafted a RT instead of a QB. Brought back Ablert. Started Hudson over Lilja, brought n Swarzt. Already had drafted Stephenson, Allen, Asomoah. So oline is better. Brought n Avery, too bad we don’t have a QB to get him the ball. We traded Baldwin sinse Alex cudnt work with him. Brought in Alexs friend AJ Jenkins. Alex cant get him the ball ether.

  • Phillip Maxwell

    Our O-line………..Blahahaha! Just kidding.

  • T.Hagen

    Great article. Don’t forget the fans, as fans we had enough losing and voices were heard. I think the fans had a big part in the turnaround.

  • stevekozak

    If I had to say one person, I would say Reid. He brought in Alex Smith, and knew what he was doing in doing so. As the writer here said (and I am SO glad to see a writer finally say it) Alex brings more than “game managing” to the team. He brings LEADERSHIP!! That leadership is now responsible for a 9-0 record. Is he a gunslinger? Nope, but he can sling when he has to, look at a game in NO two years ago when he was with SF, for proof. He does what has to be done to win, and that is what he does. FANS FANS FANS!! :)

  • Stan Colbert

    I think maybe we owe a. great debt to the son who died of an od. That affected Reid’s outlook on life. Coming to a team needing desperately to feel special and told each one is important regardless.