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.

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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.”

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“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.

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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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