Chiefs Offense: IT’S ALIVE!

Just as Gene Wilder’s character Dr. Frankenstein whaled in the 1974 movie “Young Frankenstein,” in successively louder screams, “Alive… it’s alive… IT’S ALIVE,” the Kansas City Chiefs offense has finally taken it’s collective parts and risen from the grave to save the day… only to have their defense betray the monster within… that could have been.

In a season filled with praise for all things defense, the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs offense has suffered the slings and arrows of nearly all who glanced their way. Strangely enough, at the very moment that their defense of renown was breaking down and taking a tumble, their offense was rising from the ashes of mean spirited comments to produce a game that will not soon be forgotten… mostly and sadly will be remembered… only as a loss.

When many thought the Chiefs offense was incapable of playing comeback football, on this day it not only made a comeback, it came back again and again and again.

When many thought the Chiefs offense couldn’t slug it out toe to toe with any of the top rated QB super-egos of the league: there were 8 lead changes in this game.

Sunday’s game should put a lid on that kind of talk.

Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Chiefs offense is the worst thing that happened to the Chiefs defense — the loss of their two premier pass rushers. How could this be the best thing to happen to the offense? Because… necessity is the mother of invention.

~ ~ ~

Perhaps you’ve heard a tale that goes a bit like this:

There was a cow walking along the road one day when he saw a frog. The frog was stuck at the bottom of a very deep tire rut in the road. The cow said, “Hello frog, what are you doing down there?”

The frog replied, “I’m stuck and can’t seem to jump out” and he kept jumping and jumping with no luck. The cow offered to lower his tail so the frog could climb up and out of the tire rut but the frog touted, “No, no, no, there’s no need, I can get out on my own” and he kept jumping and jumping with no luck. So, the cow bid him good day and went upon his way.

After a while a duck came waddling by and noticed the frog jumping and jumping with no luck to free himself from the deep tire rut. The duck said, “Mr. Frog, if you would like, I can lower my wing and help to get you out of this hole.” However, the proud frog stated boldly, “No, no, no, there’s no need, I can get out on my own” and he kept jumping and jumping with no luck. So, the duck bid him good day and went upon his way.

A ways down the road, the duck and the cow were talking to each other about the silly frog stuck in the hole when… that same frog came jumping by! The shocked cow said, “How in the world did you get out?”

The frog said, “I had to. A car was coming.”

~ ~ ~

“When people really need to do something, they will figure out a way to do it.” It’s never been more true for a Chiefs team than this year. When an adversary presents itself, the real family, the real team, bands together.

I truly believe that’s a big part of what happened Sunday. The only problem is the team ran out of clock. That’s when they needed a super-hero capable of time travel… and I don’t think there is one of those guys out there, right?

Opening up the Chiefs offense in the 12th game of the year is monumental for this team. No matter when Justin Houston or Tamba Hali return to action… and you know it will be sometime before the playoffs… the offense must remain of open action transformer mode… or the Hulk after he gets mad… or Clark Kent in costume and cap.

This offense has been frustrating to many a fan mostly because they start counting up all the talent on that side of the ball and keep wondering when it’s going to show up… all at once… all in the same game. Well, guess what? It did and now that the cat is out of the bag there’s no stuffing the monster back in the cave, from whence it came.

You know Jamaal Charles can carry a game. He already has 253 touches this season which puts him on pace for 368 this season. Until Sunday, the Chiefs looked like they had no one else who could take over a game and carry the team.

Jeff Chadiha of ESPN believes Alex Smith can now. In his post called, “Alex Smith Can Carry Kansas City” he states that now that the Chiefs need more from their QB, Smith can deliver.

“… an upside for the Chiefs in a loss that most players on that roster described as being more painful than their 27-17 defeat in Week 11, it’s that Smith carried the offense to its most impressive performance of the season. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 294 yards. He threw three touchdowns and one interception.”

Chadiha sees Alex Smith as the best kind of quarterback to have on your team: he’s a silent leader and doesn’t whine publicly. Just at the moment when the Chiefs are heading down the home stretch of the season, they have one of the most level headed QBs in the league to lead them to the promised land. And… he has the resume to prove it.

“When Smith helped the 49ers go 13-3 in 2011, his career-defining game came in a divisional playoff win over New Orleans. Smith made two plays late in that contest to give San Francisco the lead — one on a 28-yard touchdown run, the other on a 14-yard, game-winning scoring pass to tight end Vernon Davis. He also didn’t whine when he lost his job to Colin Kaepernick midway through last season. Smith kept his mouth shut and then opened this season by helping the Chiefs start 9-0. “

Has the Chiefs offense “arrived?” That may yet be determined with successive performances like the one against the Chargers. However, the stars are lining up. No, not the stars in the heavens… I’m referring to the sporting news stars, including our own Arrowhead Addict Editor and Chief Chief Andrew Kulha. Andrew stated in his piece called, “How the Chiefs Got the Passing Game Going vs. the Chargers

“For those who say Kansas City can’t get it done offensively, I dare say the Chiefs proved you wrong on Sunday. Even in a loss, the Chiefs’ offense played well, and led by  Smith, the unit executed some great plays.”

Peter Schrager of Fox Sports goes so far as to say who he thinks will win this game on Sunday in Arrowhead and it’s not the team who’s quarterbacked by one of the Manning brothers.

“I like Kansas City at home with their backs against the wall, here. I watched these teams’ first meeting a few times over the past couple weeks. Kansas City knows the blueprint to beat Manning and the Broncos. They’ll put it into action and complete the job in overtime on Sunday.”

While Alex Smith hasn’t won a Super Bowl (yet), fans may want to re-think who they’d rather have as their QB come playoff time. Peyton Manning has proven time and time again that he’s one of the greatest regular season quarterbacks. However, come playoff time, Manning might be considered one of the less effective postseason performers at QB. I guess if you get enough chances, you’re going to win a Super Bowl however, eight times he has been one-and-done in the playoffs. His overall postseason record is 9-11. I don’t know about you but is anyone else loving the fact that this year’s Super Bowl will be played in the elements of MetLife Stadium? I would have a PJs BM if Mr. PM was the MVP of the MLS SB in FEB of 14.

A year ago, in November of 2012, award winning sports columnist Peter King, said this about Alex Smith,

“Alex Smith, just three weeks removed from one of the best games I’ve seen a quarterback play in a long time has done absolutely nothing to lose the job — except get concussed.”

Bleacher Report does a Weekly QB Ranking and following week 12, Colin Kaepernick was #16 and Alex Smith was #14.

This season Peter King has referred to Smith as, “The man who owns Arrowhead.” When King asked Smith about learning from his failures he said,

“For me, the measure of a person is, in bad situations, what are you going to do? What are you going to stand for? What are you all about? I’m better as a person and a player because of it.”

Last Sunday we saw some the best form Alex Smith. His best also hints that we may have seen his worst… and the last of it. A faction of Chiefs fandom have been hyper-critical of Alex Smith performance so far this year and hopefully more performances like Sunday’s, will put a sock in it.

Making the Chiefs offense “all” about Alex Smith would be doing it an injustice. Yes, Alex had a breakout game but many players stepped up in this game.

||||||||| Click –> to see The Playoff Picture Through Week 12 |||||||||

Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles PercentageandYPC

The above line graph shows a direct correlation between Alex Smith’s completion percentage and Jamaal Charles yards per carry. With the exception of weeks 4 and 9 you can tell that when Smith shows an uptick in his completion percentage, Charles has an improvement in his yards per carry. Whether it’s Charles or Smith leading this parade it’s clear… when one is performing well, so is the other one. To sustain success both will be needed to excel.

So many times you can read a column about Alex Smith, or listen to disgruntled bloggers who lather on the stats but you don’t often here them speak about the attitudes of the Chiefs offensive players and coaches towards each other. That is, not until this year.

OC Doug Pederson said this week, “I think what you saw is what we’ve been talking about all year, things coming together for him at the right time.” I’ve also heard Smith speak glowingly of the players he’s teamed up with and he even said recently that he wants to retire as a Chief.

TE Sean McGrath says of Smith, “I take my quarterback over anyone, I have 100 percent confidence in him, and I know the rest of the offense does as well.” A 106.7 quarterback rating would make anyone proud but team confidence seems to have become a huge byproduct.

Plus, the confidence McGrath has expressed was there long before last Sunday.

From Alex Smith’s standpoint, if you ask him why the offense succeeded last Sunday, he’ll use the word “we” a lot as well as making a point about the team being able to do everything a play is designed to do.

“In the end, it just comes down to execution, I thought we executed more consistently across the board. We were good in the red zone. I thought we stayed out of a lot of third-and-longs. All of those things kind of lead to success.”

When you’re defense has been as successful as the Chiefs defense has been this season it’s natural for fans to focus on the loss of two of it’s star players, especially when both of those players rush the opposing QB. While Tamba Hali says he’s playing on Sunday Justin Houston may be out for awhile but in any event you can understand fans bemoaning a close loss such as the one they suffered to the San Diego Chargers last weekend. In the meantime, the Chiefs offense has put on their best offensive display since they hung 42 points on the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle, on November 28 of 2010.

Three years.

This transformation has been all season long in the making.

What may have previously looked to like a “broken” offense could merely have been a mad scientist’s (Reid as Wilder) attempts to re-animate the flesh and bones from many parts to create a monster.  An offensive monster that lifted it’s head off the slab and scared the life out of a mob that included people with arrows and or bolts on their heads last Sunday.

Was it “life imitating art” or vice versa? Either way, once it ended, the monster was ignored.

So, arrow-heads, are you ignoring the monster, or can you see it at all? However, before you chime in you should know I’m already well aware that the above rendering of Alex Smith looks like Eddie on the Munsters.

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  • Troy Utt

    Great read Lad! I honestly believe Alex Smith & the offense are hitting stride at just the right time… Considering this was a new offense w/ many new players and new staff, injuries, etc… it has taken a bit longer for all the pieces to fall in place. I won’t lie my heart skipped a beat a couple of times last weekend seeing both Hali & Houston come off the field. But if we are able to get them back healthy we should be in good shape for a great run for the play-offs! I will qualify that by saying I have already assumed, or better yet have full faith that our boys will take care of business -vs- DEN. As a victory Sunday not only clinches a play-off berth, but puts KC in the drivers seat for the #1 seed which we all know is instrumental… Until game-time gentlemen… WAR CHIEFS!!!

    • ladner morse

      Yea, I’d like to see the Chiefs clinch the #1 seed going into the last 4 games. They especially don’t need the energy of a 3 game losing streak. And it really disturbs me to see the current playoff graphics showing the Chiefs in a 5th seed Wild Card slot.

  • berttheclock

    Great analogies, as usual, Mr Morse.

    As for “Young Frankenstein”, I call your attention to another scene from that movie. Remember, when, the dungeon was found and as the three of them descended, Teri Garr’s character remarked about the dirt and cobwebs? Igor, quickly, replied, “Oh, I don’t know, a little paint, flowers, throw pillows”. The ultimate LA real estate agent. Well, my analogy to that was what Reid, Dorsey and crew discovered about the 2-14 team of 2012 and decided to use a “little paint, flowers, throw pillows” of the 2013 Home Improvement NFL variety. Yes, they did bring everything to the point of “It’s alive”.

    • ladner morse

      Cute. Good memory as usual.
      I prefer the memory of when Madeline Kahn’s character gets it on with the monster and call him, “my little zipper-neck.” Which of course has nothing to do with the Chiefs but is still a great line!

      • berttheclock

        “Sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you”

  • Jarad

    Chiefs Defense, its in critical condition.

    • ladner morse

      What are you talking about? No evidence is no proof at all.
      So you think the Chiefs D is in I.C.U.???
      Well… ICU $20 and raise you $40… which means it’s now your turn to show your hand.
      I think the Chiefs D will be excellent against the Donks on Sunday and the offense will show up.

      There ya go… I offer no proof … just like you.

      • Jarad

        Haha. Well ,you’re aware of the lack of sacks and the fact that kc didnt even breathe on Manning the first time. With the best defensive player for KC out, i dont see the Chiefs getting any pressure without bringing multiple blitzers. Leaving Cooper and the DBs even more vulnerable. Cooper alone has given up more yards the last 2 weeks than he did the first 9! Going against arguably the best QB ever, im willing to bet Cooper gets plenty thrown his way and numerous crossing routes that have crushed this D as of late. This D was dismantled by a lesser qb and lesser team just a week ago. Getting back a slightly hobble Hali will help, but right now, that 2nd CB is the biggest issue. Bring out the paddles, cuz this D needs to be revived before kickoff!!! Oh, I HOPE IM “DEAD” WRONG!! Go CHIEFS!

        • KCMikeG

          Lesser QB? Rivers has the #1 completion % in the NFL. Sutton will adjust. I think he needs to pull Berry back from the LB position, jam the WR’s at the line and play more zone coverage. Hali and DeVito are back. You don’t have to sack the QB to effect his play – pressures and knock downs take their toll. Plus don’t forget that it won’t be so easy for PM to change the plays at the line while drowning in the Sea of Red. Also we got the right side of our OL back which we lost by the half in Denver. This will help us grind out a drive when we need to burn some clock leaving Eggohead on the bench.

          • Jarad

            Well first ,if you dont think Peyton Manning is better than Rivers, then WOW!!! To your other points, i hope youre right. Pressures and hurries are key, but KC barely got anything near Manning. Hopefully the crowd will help that case

          • Jarad

            And outside that silly “Lesser QB?” question (which im astonished that someone would question the better QB between Manning and Rivers) , COOPER is still the biggest issue.

  • tomflex

    Great article Laddie I love the positive energy….and for anyone who thinks our offense was only good because San Diego’s defense is so bad, think back to when Denver played San Diego. The Donks only managed 28 points against them compared to our 38 so….we have good reason to believe this offense has risen….

  • vmars

    It’s a nice thought, but going against the Chargers weak defense is a hell of a lot different than going against Denver’s D. The Broncos have outstanding corners, a vicious pass rush, and they’re one of the hardest teams to run against in the league. The only hope for the Chiefs is that Denver lost Vickerson for the year, and now Derek Wolfe is out with the flu. Still, it’s going to be a MUCH harder climb than playing the bush-league chargers.

    • ladner morse

      Remember the Denver D is only good against the run because everyone who faces them is usually playing from behind. Also… their passing defense is ranked 30th in the league.

    • KCMikeG

      If the dolts defense is “bush league” then why did the greatest QB/offense of all time only score 28 points against them while our “game manager” AS11 put up 38 points? We will take their edge rushers deep and with their weakness in the middle AS11 will step up and throw deep, short or even run when needed.

  • redchiefs

    Last week I kept thinking that very same thing! WOW!! The O has come alive! Great read Laddie! I’ve waited for the West Coast to come to KC since Bill Walsh and Joe Montana showed us how it’s done. Andy Reid was the steal of the century!

    • berttheclock

      You mean the year Joe M came to town and the Chiefs did not have a pass catching TE? Montana to Jonathan “Clunkhands” Hayes. By the time King Carl realized how important one of those was and drafted Tony G, Joe was long gone. But, yes, great to see Reid on the same page with the West Coast and understands a TE with great hands can be the best friend of Alex Smith.

    • ladner morse

      Exactly… nice post redchiefs!

  • vbchief

    Excellent read Laddie. your becoming one of my favorite contributers on this site. The other is Randy 5k (Arrowhead adventurer) Where has he been lately?
    I cant wait to see Alex light up the scoreboard this sunday
    GO CHIEFS !!!!!!

    • ladner morse

      Thanks vbchief!

      I don’t know what’s going on with Randy but, he contributes from time to time now.
      Geau Chiefs!!!!!!!!

  • berttheclock

    What bothers me about the loss of Houston is the news wire says Moreno will play. In the game in Denver, Houston was given high marks by Pro Football Focus for his cross the field run stopping.

  • KCMikeG

    Great work Ladner! Always enjoy your unique perspective! The defense has had their times to carry the team and ST’s have saved the day too. Our offense has contributed by grinding out drives but never had stepped up to be the leading force until last week. This would be a whole different situation if Lewis had held on to that INT or if Sean Smith’s fingers would have been extended an 1″ further. I trust that Sutton will devise a way to manage Eggo and our offense will feast on the donkeys weak safeties.

    • ladner morse

      Yep… I keep thinking about those “almost” INTs too… but to me it just translates into INTs that will be there in the future. The more familiar with the system… the more familiar they are playing with each other… the more familiar they are with the approach each QB is taking with them. Build it and they will come… the Chiefs have built an excellent D that will only keep getting bettah and bettah!