The mantra for the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs during their historic, record breaking 9-0 run was: “thank goodness for the defense, because this offense can’t do anything.”
Coming out of the bye week, that all seemed to change.
It’s not really clear what sparked the offense in the second half of the season. Some surmise that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid opened up the second half of the playbook where all of the “deep” plays were located. Others think that Alex Smith realized that he couldn’t keep winning games by throwing three-yard passes. Others still think that while the Chiefs played sub-standard offenses in the first half of the season (causing their defense to shine) the opposite was true in the second half of the season, causing their offense to stand out.
Whatever the reason for the change, the Chiefs prolific offense in the second half of the 2013 season was ranked near the top of the NFL in several statistical categories.
But what does that mean moving forward?
I will tell you that I’m firmly in the camp that believes the cause for the turnaround was generated solely from Alex Smith’s comfort level with his receivers. Bringing in a new head coach and a new quarterback where everyone has to learn a new system isn’t easy. This is just one of a thousand reasons that Smith was the right guy for the job. The Chiefs quarterback has played in a new offensive system just about every single year he’s been in the league. Learning a new offense has become a given for him and he picked it up at record pace.
But, there’s a reason that great QB and wide receivers from history stand out and do as well as they do. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice weren’t the “San Francisco connection” their first year together. It took time to build the chemistry between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall or Matthew Stafforrd and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.
For Smith to come in, fresh off the plane from the city by the bay, and have an immediate connection with Chiefs receivers Dwayne
Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster would have been a lot to hope for. It took some time for that connection to develop. Actually, it took the entire preseason and nine games into the regular season.
This is the reason that I am so excited about what’s in store for the Chiefs offense going into the 2014 season.
It’s been a long time since the Chiefs have fielded an offense that was anything to write home about. The 2003 Chiefs were the closest thing to the “Greatest Show on Turf” since the St. Louis Rams held that title at the turn of the millennium. That offense that contained quarterback Trent Green, running back Priest Holmes and tight end Tony Gonzalez was a true treat to watch on the field and they broke records during that huge season. Sadly, the complete lack of defense was their demise.
History truly repeats itself, doesn’t it?
Unlike that 2003 team, though, this 2014 squad could potentially be even better. While Priest Holmes was an excellent running back, I’m a firm believer he’s the second best RB in Chiefs history. The guy that owns that #1 ranking is currently playing for the Chiefs and wearing #25. Jamaal Charles isn’t just the best back in Chiefs
history. He’s arguably the best football player in the NFL this season. And he shows no indication of slowing down.
We all know that Bowe was a huge underachiever this season, but I don’t think that was all his fault. Going back to what I was saying before about chemistry, I think it took awhile for Smith to not only be able to trust him, but also to adjust to his style of play. When Smith was the quarterback for the 49ers his favorite two targets were tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree. These two players have a completely different on field style than Bowe and that takes some getting used to.
I can almost guarantee that Bowe will be back in the “1000-yard club” next season. There’s no reason for him not to be. As the season wound down, Smith targeted”The D-Bowe Show” more and more and his #1 receiver did his best to not let him down. Combine that with the fact that Bowe has said he intends to drop his playing weight by about five to ten pounds to increase his speed and I think we can expect big things from the duo of Bowe and Smith next year.
Many have said that one of the Chiefs biggest off season needs is another receiver who can not only take some heat off of #82, but also stretch the field. I think Chiefs general manager John Dorsey knows this as well or better than anybody and will target the best wide out he can when the Chiefs pick 23rd in the draft in May.
With a roster of talent working in the same system for the second straight year, this team will be an offensive powerhouse in 2014, picking up right where they left off.