Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Donnie Avery (17) is unable to catch this pass while defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster (36) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Denver won the game 35-28. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs: A Reality Check

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The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs are not the best team in the NFL.

They are not the best team in the AFC.

They are not the best team in the AFC West.

That much is clear after KC lost for the second time this season to the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs had their chances and looked poised to pull off the upset win as they opened up a 21-7 lead in the first half. However, the Broncos would take control and rattle off 28 consecutive points in route to a 35-28 win.

First, let me address a few things about this specific game.

* The officials did NOT cost the Chiefs this game. Did I hate some of the calls? Yes, but the Chiefs could have won that game if they had executed better on either side of the ball. Implying that it’s all on the officials is letting the KC players and coaches off the hook. It’s an excuse. Excuses are for losers. If the Chiefs want to be winners, they need to be looking at ways to fix their mistakes, not complaining about calls that didn’t go their way. Fans should follow suite.

* While Alex Smith’s interception on the opening drive was 100% on him and one of the more costly mistakes of the game, that loss was not on Smith. Smith competed 62% of his passes for 293 yards, about 7.0 yards per attempt, and 2 TDs and 1 interception. That’s a good line in and of itself, but when you factor in the fact that KC had more drops than I can count, Smith absolutely played well enough to win that game. The WRs were abysmal, Smith was very good.

* Marcus Cooper seems to be taking the brunt of the defensive frustrations that KC fans have and I think that is unfair. Cooper hasn’t played well lately, but he is often out on an island with little pass rush and no safety support. That is tough sledding for a veteran CB, let alone a 7th round draft pick rookie that didn’t even make the 53 man roster of the team that drafted him. Over this three game losing streak every defensive back not named Eric Berry has looked just plain awful in pass coverage. I see no reason to single out a promising young player that is being put in an impossible position. Go look at what KC is paying Brandon Flowers and then ask yourself if he is playing like an elite level CB lately. That seems more reasonable than demanding elite play from a rookie we picked up on waivers who was playing just his 12th career game in the NFL.

* Finally, I think the coaching staff again deserves a huge portion of the blame for this loss. Yes, Alex Smith threw a bad interception. Yes, the WRs dropped a TON of passes. Yes, the DBs allowed the Denver WRs to run free and get behind them all game long. However, the job of a coaching staff is to put their players in the best possible position to win the game. I don’t feel the KC coaching staff did that in this game.

First off, I have a major issue with the offense in the middle portion of the game. The Chiefs took a 21-7 lead with about 11 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. Denver then went on a 28-0 run that ended when they took a 35-21 lead with about 14 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. During that span of about 2 full quarters when the offense was sputtering and the defense was getting gashed left and right, KC had 5 possessions. In those 5 possessions Jamaal Charles only touched the ball 5 times.

That’s unacceptable.

The defense needed to regroup. The offense needed to answer Peyton Manning’s big plays. Jamaal Charles can fix both of those problems. When you run the ball it takes more time off the clock and gives your defense time to catch it’s breath. When you desperately need to make something happen on offense you have to get the ball in the hands of your best offensive player. SO GIVE THE BALL TO JAMAAL CHARLES!!!!!!!!!!! I’m not a person that is in favor of Jamaal having 30+ touches every game. I don’t think he’ll hold up to that much pounding. However, when you are playing the biggest game of the season that will go a long way to determining your playoff fate, that seems like a good time to make sure you get the most out of your star player. The Chiefs didn’t do that.

The MAJOR problem I had with the defensive coaching was (for the third straight game) the lack of adjustments. I have had ZERO problem with the defensive game plan that KC has had to start each of the past three games. However, in all three games the other team proved to have an answer for the initial KC game plan. So, in the back and forth chess match that is the NFL, that made it Bob Sutton’s move. The problem is, he never made one.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If that’s the case, then Bob Sutton is clearly insane. Eric Decker repeatedly beat KC deep, but the Chiefs made no adjustments to try and double team him or drop a safety back deep to his side. The Broncos had an answer for Sutton’s initial game plan. Sutton didn’t have an answer for their answer. That’s a problem.

So, where does that leave this Chiefs team going forward?

I feel that we can say that the Chiefs are still a very good team, but with some serious flaws.

However, they are not an elite Super Bowl contender like the Broncos are.

The Kansas City Chiefs are very likely a wild card team that will have to play all of it’s playoff games on the road.

While some will say that KC has been “exposed” by playing better teams, I would say that what might be a better description is that other teams have figured out what KC’s defense is doing and have adapted a game plan to beat them and the Chiefs have not responded.

The real test will be in the coming weeks to see if non-elite level QBs can execute the offensive game plans that Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers have. If RGIII, Andrew Luck, and whomever the Raiders start at QB all have the same success against the KC secondary then the Chiefs will be destined to be one and done in the post season. However, if KC has success against those QBs it should give KC fans some hope that KC may have success in the playoffs against teams like Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

That needs to be the mindset of KC fans going forward.

Don’t think about what KC needs to do to overtake the Broncos or win the Super Bowl.

This is a team coming off a 2-14 season that has a new coaching staff and a new QB. Making the playoffs will make this season a success. Would it have been a great story to jump from worst team in the NFL to Super Bowl champs? Sure, they probably would have even made a Disney movie about it some day down the road.

That’s not happening. The Andy Reid/John Dorsey/Alex Smith regime could very well win a Super Bowl in KC, but unless an improbable run happens, it won’t be this season.

So let’s start with finding a way to break the playoff win draught. Winning a road playoff game would be huge victory, even if they lose in the 2nd round to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. It would put them in great position moving forward.

If the Chiefs can eventually get Justin Houston back and rediscover some pass rush, make adjustments to their coverages in the secondary, keep Jamaal Charles healthy, and have Alex Smith continue to improve in the passing game, there is no reason this team couldn’t win a playoff game. The best part is that none of those things are that unrealistic.

So don’t lose all hope KC fans. The dreams of a “pie in the sky” championship season may have been dashed with this loss, but it doesn’t make this season a failure. It doesn’t mean that it’s time to start looking towards next season. It doesn’t mean that this team can’t still improve as this season heads down the home stretch.

It’s just time to adjust our expectations to the reality of this Kansas City Chiefs team.

They’re a good team. They just aren’t great yet.

While we’d all prefer great, making the jump from worst in the NFL to good is encouraging progress.

That will have to do for now.

Verizon Tech Update:

As regular readers of my weekly musings already know, I was given a free Droid Maxx by Verizon to use this football season and give my feedback on. If you’re interested in that kind of thing make sure to follow me on Twitter as I give more feedback there. My update this week has to do with my Thanksgiving travels. Over the holiday, I traveled to the small town of Tipton, Iowa to visit family. While many of my relatives from all over the country complained of not being able to get internet on their phones (many of them AT&T users) my Droid Maxx never had a problem. I even watched a large part of the Steelers/Ravens game on my phone using the NFL Mobile app. In fact, since the Maxx can act as it’s own mobile hot spot, I actually bailed the non-Verizon users out by letting them piggy back off my coverage so they could check their email, etc. If you do much traveling and want to have 4G coverage, Verizon is hands down the way to go. Keep in mind, I don’t get anything extra for saying that. I get the free phone even if I say that I don’t really like it.

That does it for this week. It’s on to the Redskins and breaking this three game losing streak.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

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