Chiefs Measuring Up To The Lombardi Foes

1 Feature From The Bleachers

The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs were a good team. No, that team will not be “blown up” as some would say however, that team will never be the same team again.

A change it is a comin’.

That’s the jumping off point for many who are attempting to guess what those changes might be. To do that more accurately we should probably do some evaluation of the team as it has been. In this case, one of my favorite things to do is to compare the current Chiefs, and Chiefs roster, to the two teams that made the Super Bowl: the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

 

Quarterbacking

One of the most important questions any team in the league must answer is: do they have a Super Bowl caliber QB?

I’m not even going to waste the Ethernet space comparing Chiefs QB Alex Smith to the Broncos Peyton Manning. Manning has already proved he belongs with the all time elite QBs in the history of the league.

However, a comparison of Mr. Smith and the Seahawks QB Russell Wilson should prove productive.

Russell Wilson’s Stat Line for the past two years:

2012

Games- 16, Comp percentage- 64.1%, Yards Passing- 3,118, Rush Yards- 489

2013

Games- 16, Comp percentage- 63.1%, Yards Passing- 3,357, Rush Yards- 539

Alex Smith’s Stat Line for the past two years:

2012

Games- 10, Comp percentage- 70.2%, Yards Passing- 1,737 (2,781*), Rush Yards- 132

2013

Games- 15, Comp percentage- 60.6%, Yards Passing- 3,313, Rush Yards- 431

* Extended for 16 games.

There may not be a lot of fans out there that can see that Alex Smith is actually a better QB than sophomore Russell Wilson. However, the playoffs is a place to show the full range of your game, if you’re ever going to, and Smith took his game to another level and nearly pulled off the first victory for his his new organization in 20 years. And, he did so single-handedly because RB, and team MVP, Jamaal Charles went down on the first drive of the game.

What should be noted is that, although the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, it does not preclude that they are better at every position than the Chiefs and it’s especially true at the most critical position on the field: quarterback.

 

Running Back

Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno and even Marshawn Lynch all take a back seat to JC. Yes, Lynch is one incredible back that anyone would want on their team but not if it meant I had to choose between He and JC.

Lynch is someone who can take his game to another level in the playoffs and had one of the best carries I’ve ever seen a couple of year’s ago in the playoffs. However, when you consider Jamaal CHarles ability to hit the home run and any moment, you have to go with Jamaal.

Sitting out the last week of the season didn’t help JC’s case any but, neither did his grea season coming in a historic season for Peyton Manning otherwise, he would have been right in the running for league MVP. That alone places JC above all other RBs in this, or any other, league.

Summing things up so far… the Chiefs are a better team… in my opinion.. than the Seahawks are at the two most crucial positions on offense, those being QB and RB.

 

Wide Receiver

If Dwayne Bowe had played all season long, the way he played against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs, he could be considered a top 5 WR. As it is, he’s got to be considered in the mid-teens rank wise.

Once again, I don’t think there’s any comparison to the Denver Broncos wide receiving corp. Denver’s #1, #2, #3 and their TE are all head and shoulders better than the Chiefs group of wideouts. In fact, it’s hard for me to think of a whole group of receivers who have ever been as good as Denver’s elite four. The 1970s Steelers were made forever memorable with their super combo of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. However, I can’t recall the name of a third wide out for them nor can I tell you who their TE was during the later years of the 1970s.

Obviously, WRs and the TE are an important part of the passing game “circle” that the Broncos have created, mostly made possible by the incomparable Mr. Manning (and if you know anything about me, you’d know how incredibly difficult that was to say).

I would have to rate the Seattle Seahawks wide out troop as better than the Chiefs. But, not by a great deal. If you look back at the difference in the total number of passing yards for Russell Wilson and Alex Smith, Wilson had 44 more yards but, he did it in 16 games instead of the 15 games Smith played.

What does that mean? It means that the Chiefs best receiver was Jamaal Charles who had 20 more yards catching the ball than Bowe did for the season. Still, JC shouldn’t necessarily be considered as part of the Chiefs wide receiving committee. In fact, it will be critical for the Chiefs to find a real #1 receiver this offseason, not so much to help Dwayne Bowe but, to take a huge load off of Jamaal Charles.

A major reason Jamaal Charles had so many receiving “touches” this year was by necessity. Yes, Andy Reid’s offense is designed for the RB to get a load of catches in order to put his best players in space. However, I don’t believe he intended that many touches for JC overall. And, if the Chiefs had had another option, they would have used it.

Golden Tate had nearly 900 yards (898) this season but, he compares favorably to Dwayne Bowe in productivity. Since the Chiefs had no other options during most of the season (Donnie Avery started well but lost his grip by mid-season) Bowe could easily be double-teamed. Another important reason the Chiefs must find a comparable WR to Bowe this offseason.

The Seahawks Doug Baldwin had 778 yards receiving this year and that’s where it’s critical that you slide JCs numbers in there.

However, that’s the difference between evaluating at team’s receiving ability vs. a team’s wide receiving corp. Obviously… and once again… the Chiefs have to improve in this area but you’d also have to believe the Chiefs will do exactly that this offseason… based upon the nature of Andy Reid passing oriented offense.

The point of this comparison is simply to show the Chiefs “belong.” Andy Reid has said many times in his pressers that, a game turns on just a “few plays” and with that in mind it’s easy to see that the Chiefs could just as easily be in the Super Bowl this year.

And… with continued offseason improvement could just as easily end up there next year.

  • When you ask yourself the question: what was it that got the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl this year? Just like buying good real estate the answer is clear. Offense, offense, offense.
  • When you ask yourself the question: what was it that got the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl this year? To me, the answer is just as clear: Defense, defense, defense.

That’s the one intrigue I have about this year’s Super Bowl: which will win out… the immovable object or the unstoppable force?

The Chiefs 2013 season was a study in contrasts. The defense started out like world beaters and faded horribly in the second half. The offense started out slowly and continued to improve… playing one of their best game in the playoff game against Indy.

The Chiefs defense ended up being ranked tied for 5th in points allowed per game at 19.1. The Broncos defense was ranked 22nd in the league allowing 24.9 points per game. Of course, who needs to be great on defense when your offense is one of the best in history?

So, the Chiefs defense allowed about 5 points per game less than the Broncos this year while playing essentially the same schedule of teams. To place that in perspective: the Seahawks led the league only allowing 14.4 points per game this year, almost 5 points less than the Chiefs.

  • The Broncos win with an extremely good offense and a below average defense.

  • The Seahawks win with an extremely good defense and a very good offense (ranked 8th in points per game).

  • The Chiefs win with a good defense and a very good offense (ranked 6th in points per game).

What stands out about the comparison of these three squads is that… to end up in the Super Bowl a team must be “extremely” good on at least one side of the ball.

 

The Path to Glory

A comparison of this kind, while somewhat titillating to the competitive sensibilities, can also be useless in reality. Unless… unless what can be learned from such contrasting, can in turn be put to use. So, the the kind of perspective peeping performed above raises one huge question.

If the path to glory (the Super Bowl) is achieved by creating an “extremely” good unit on one side of the ball or the other… then which side of the ball is the closest to being that “extremely good” unit for the Chiefs?

At the beginning of the season I would have said it was the defense. However, the defense has fallen off enough that it looks like the holes in said defense are bigger then the offenses holes.

While thinking of the Chiefs offense as a unit that could become “extremely” dynamic and efficient is exciting, there’s no doubting that the holes in the defense are so significant that even though you might want to upgrade the offense first, to reach “elite” status, the challenges of fixing the defense must be addressed sooner than later. Or, all the offensive firepower in the world won’t do any good. See the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs (don’t forget that if this year’s Super Bowl winner is the Seahawks… the proof that, defense wins championships, will outweigh the temptation to build the greatest show on turf Frankenstein).

In the Chiefs case, they’re more than one excellent receiver away from being considered elite. And, now it looks like the OL is going to have to replace their best lineman, Branden Albert. So, like the defense, the offense is several players away as well.

However, it’s not enough to just say “the defense is several players away” because the holes that the defense has are all critical position players: FS, ILB, CB and now it looks like DE, because Tyson Jackson will likely be hitting the highway. Plus, the holes that the defense has… have been there for so long, it’s nearly inconceivable to the common fan that these holes will ever be filled. Sounds fatalistic? Reality is only a stone’s throw from there.

The Chiefs had a good run this year. Will the Chiefs be better next season than this one? If you follow the upward trajectory that has been the constant improvement of this roster then you’d have ot answer yes.

Some have criticized last year’s draft but, if the Chiefs 1st (OT, Eric Fisher), 3rd (TE, Travis Kelce) and 5th (S, Sanders Commings) round picks come through this year then it could be the draft that helps the Chiefs get over the top.

Saying that the Chief have a better offense than the Super Bowl representative whose offense is their weakest unit… may not be saying much. And… saying that the Chiefs have a better defense than the Super Bowl representative whose defense is clearly their weakest unit may not be saying much either. However, the Chiefs are better than these and were also only one of those “few plays” away from moving on in the playoffs this year.

The Chiefs may also be a few seasons away from vying for the Lombardi. However, I can see them competing for the Lamar Hunt trophy soon.

Sooner than later.

What do you think Addict fans? Can you sense the Lamar Hunt trophy on the horizon?

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