Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Will The Real Kansas City Chiefs Please Stand Up?


There are a number of things that are frustrating to hear out of national commentators about the Chiefs — that its wide receivers aren’t up to snuff, even though two teams with comparable or worse production made it to the NFC Championship game; that its defense is an illusion despite posting historic numbers across nine straight games; etc. — but it’s hard to deny the fact that we saw two distinctly different Chiefs teams last year, and it’s not entirely clear which one was real.

Are the Chiefs the team that allowed just 12.3 points per game through their nine games or are they the one that allowed 29.8 points per game through the next eight?

Are the Chiefs a fluke that went on a nine-game streak while their quarterback averaged just 1 TD per game? Or, is that same QB deserving of the elite discussion given how he played at the end of the season? According to ESPN’s Mike Sando:

Smith threw 16 TD passes with only three INTs from the Chiefs’ 11th game forward, counting playoffs. He trailed only McCown, Peyton Manning, Kaepernick, Cutler and Philip Rivers in Total QBR (68.2) over that span.

The fact is that there were some things that were relatively consistent throughout the Chiefs’ 2013 season, contrary to popular belief. On a whole, the Chiefs’ 26.9-points per game average over the regular season was good for 6th in the league. So, scoring points was not a problem.

The contrast between the first nine and the last eight in terms of points scored also wasn’t as great as you would expect. They averaged 23.8 per game during their undefeated streak and 32.3 points for the rest of the year counting the playoffs.

Kansas City’s special teams also were consistently great throughout the season. Football Outsiders ranked the Chiefs as having by far the best special teams unit in 2013 through its complicated formula and the team led the league with 4 return TD’s.

The team also got a league-high 7 TD’s off of interceptions and fumble recoveries.

Can the Chiefs pull off that same level of defensive and special teams scoring? My guess is that the team will regress towards the mean somewhat, but I don’t see a compelling reason why that production will drop off entirely.

Sure, the team lost returners Dexter McCluster and Quintin Demps, but no one expected either of them to world-beaters last year either. McCluster appeared to be on his way out and Demps was signed for the veteran minimum as cheap depth HC Andy Reid was somewhat familiar with.

RB Knile Davis was responsible for one of those return TD’s and I expect his role to greatly widen in the coming year. Throw in RB De’Anthony Thomas to the mix and I don’t see any reason for panic.

The question marks are all about the defense and those are the ones that will need to be answered on the field. After both OLBs Tamba Hali and Justin Houston got injured in the San Diego game, the team was suddenly giving up more than double the amount of points it had averaged all season. The opportunistic man-coverage unit suddenly turned into a terrifying liability without consistent pass rush.

Now, one could make the case that the other thing that changed was that the level of competition and quarterback play the Chiefs were facing was suddenly much higher, and that’s true. For now, it’s impossible to know which was the bigger factor in the defensive collapse late last year — the pass-rush injuries or the uptick in quality opponents.

What I like is that the team is so far betting on itself by drafting OLB Dee Ford in the first round to be injury insurance and a rotational player with Hali and Houston to keep that unit playing consistently throughout the year. In fact, the silver lining of Houston’s holdout is that Ford is getting reps with the first team in the OTA’s and mini-camps.

However, it’s hard to say that the defensive backfield has gotten better. For better or worse, we Chiefs fans won’t have to ponder whether improvements have been made for very long. The team heads to Denver to face GM John Elway’s all-in Super Bowl re-do squad in Week 2.

What say you Addicts? Which Kansas City Chiefs will stand up?

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Tags: De'Anthony Thomas Dee Ford Defense Haters Kansas City Chiefs Offense Special Teams

  • tj12205

    I think the success or failure for the Chiefs defense this years rest solely on the pass rush.

    • scomstock55

      that might be said for most of the teams in the league….no pass rush and you get picked apart…doesnt really matter who is at qb

    • Kyle Taylor

      FS play drastically hurt us bad last year. Pass rush or not K Lewis was awful.

      • Michael Shaw

        I personally remember Dunta Robinson getting man-handled every time he stepped on the field. I was on board with his signing until the season started, the pass rush went away and wow did he look terrible. Both he and Kendrick looked really bad last year.

    • area

      I’m putting it squarely on Sutton’s ability, or inability, to formulate sound game plans and adjust accordingly to the opponent’s offensive adjustments without causing the Chief’s defenders to play outside of their strengths.

  • trinity

    It’s all on this defense. If they get back to that 9 game win streak form, they have a shot. This is a defense with the potential to be great, with an offense that’s average at best except for JC. The only way to win consistently is for the defense to hold teams under 14, so the offense won’t have to do too much. If the defense fails this season, it is over.

    • mnelson52

      Every team fails without a defense

      • trinity

        And some need it more than others. There are teams in the league who don’t need thier defense to be top 10 to be successful. The chiefs aren’t one of them.

        • berttheclock

          What is your definition of “successful”. The Broncos were highly successful winning regular season games. They were pathetic, as was their highly touted QB, in the Super Bowl, where their defense was a mess, as well as their vaunted offense.

          The lack of defense in the second half of the Colts game did in the Chiefs. NOT their offense.

          • trinity

            You pointed out the super bowl. That actually proves my point. Because what happened was that the Broncos ran up on a defense that shut them down, and that’s how the chiefs will have to play to have a shot this year. And plus, that was one game. Basically, the Broncos had one of the most dominant seasons we’ve ever seen offensively, and it just ended terribly. Teams like Denver, a healthy New England, Indy, New Orleans, green bay, and Chicago need solid defense to be successful. SOLID, not Elite. Whereas teams like San Francisco, Kansas city, and the seahawks need a more balanced attack to sustain success. San Fran and especially Seattle don’t have the offense that can carry the defense yet, and the chiefs just don’t have much outside JC. They will have to rely on this defense, and that’s the key to this season.

            Plus, who said anything about the Colts game? That was a very nice moral victory. But this is about sustaining ACTUAL victories, so that’s irrelevant.

          • berttheclock

            45-44 was the reason Dorsey selected both Ford and Gaines and not a wide out. That is the importance of that game. One must understand what happened in the 2nd half of that game to understand the reasoning behind the Dorsey draft. Naysayers, such as Prisco, do not have a clue what the Chiefs really needed in the draft. The recent draft, also, took into account the losses incurred after both Hali and Houston were injured. That is the reason Dorsey is adding depth through FAcy and the draft. Pioli left the Chiefs with no depth and Dorsey has had to find ways to improve such even if it means he cuts some he brought in last season. This is very close to what Schneider has done with the Seahawks. Keep finding players and keep churning the roster.

          • trinity

            I agree with you 100%. That game should have never come to 45-44. You guys were winning when you were only giving up about 12 a game, and the offense was only asked to put up around 17 a game. Shootouts look like business as usual for some teams, but if KC is involved in a shootout, it indicates something has gone wrong. Reid and company don’t want to play Bronco Ball. I was one of the people who felt you needed wide out help in the draft, and i stand by the opinion that you guys need more offense. But I see the reason why they went for ford. They want to get back to playing elite defense. I think that will be the key to this season.

          • micah stephenson

            I think storming through to the regular season and making it to the superbowl is successful. Yea the superbowl game started off bad for them and they never got back in it. If Den played sea again, I’m sure the game would a lot closer.

          • trinity

            I agree with you Micah. That superbowl was so lame because it was so damn fluky. When does Denver only score 8? When does Seattle drop over 40? That was a wierd game, and if they have a rematch I think it would be way different even if the Seahawks still won it.

        • Reggie Flenory

          Keeping teams under 14 with this schedule is gonna be hard we need to be balanced all the way around off,def, and special teams have to pitch in

          • trinity

            Therein lies the problem Reggie. The thing that you need the most is something that will be tough to do. I think you’re going to look back at this season, and where the defense is ranked overall will tell the entire story. If they end up ranking top 5 or maybe top 10, you will be good. But if they fall outside of the top 10, I think they’re in for a huge step back this season.

    • micah stephenson

      I think 17 pts is closer to what to expect. If we can hold teams around that we will b ok. If we have to start scoring 30 or 40 to win, that won’t b good.

      • trinity

        I hear you. The defense is so important, even more so than last season. They won’t have a chance to get thier feet wet against a bunch of backups, they’re diving straight into it this year.

      • area

        I see the scenario from the beginning of last season and this season being transposed. Where our defense carried a new offense until it found it’s legs, the offense will have to carry the defense the earlier part of the season this year. With a new(er) offensive line, I hope they adjust quickly. The o-line does not have eight games this year to gel, more than likely they have two to three.

  • Chiefnut

    Maybe I am too optimistic but I think we will be a better team in 2014. On the plus side is this is year 2 with Andy and our offense progressed as the year went on as the team got more familiar with his offense; we get players back who were hurt some or all of last year (Kelce, Cummings, Fasano), we have some FA upgrades in Mays and Walker, and I think we had a good draft–to be validated. On the negative we did lose 3 OL, some of our return game players, and Flowers. If the OL holds up and Kelce, Fasano, and Thomas and maybe a renewed Bowe can contribute at a high level our offense will be better in Andy year 2. I do think our special teams may be as good with Davis and Thomas as returners. It is our defense I think we could see the biggest improvement with Walker, Mays, Ford, and more speed in the secondary which was sorely needed given the torching by the colts, broncos, and chargers. I would say our record would be somewhere between 9-7 and 11-5 given more difficult schedule.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      I think there are reasons you can point to for optimism and for pessimism. To me, again, it gets back to the question of who this team is. We basically saw two different teams last year — the plus side is that both were able to win. I think on paper there are a lot more questions marks on this roster and I personally don’t like to count on a player for anything until I’ve seen them do it on the field. Mays and Walker are sort of interesting. Overall, I think bringing them in to replace Jordan and TJax was more or less a lateral move. But, while Jordan and TJax were better run-stuffers, Walker and Mays are better pass rushers. If the team can really get some more diverse sources of pass rush that’d be great. Also, this is just me, but I smell a big year from Alex Smith coming. I hope we get him re-signed before the season because I have a feeling he is going to get more expensive.

  • Reggie Flenory

    Once again the good thing for the chiefs this yr is that everybody nationally is expedtimg less from us so i dont think teams and national media are gonna take us seriously rhey dont know about a healthy kelce, or sanders commimgs, or dee ford,hali, and houston on then field at the same time they still think we are a joke so are advantage is flying under the radar

    • area

      Media might disregard or belittle K.C.’s chances, none of the opposing teams will, however. Every coach and player, trainer, waterboy, parking lot attendant, and your friendly neighborhood scalper knows that there is a VERY thin line between the Superbowl champs and the “worst” team in the league. Absolutely zero teams we play this year look at any game as a gimme, especially the Chiefs. We have season spoiler written all over us.

    • KCMikeG

      Totally agree. That was used to our advantage last year too. I love being the underdog!

  • Jim Wynne

    I believe halftime adjustments for our defense will be critical

  • Travis Forsyth

    I like our chances. Sure our schedule’s tough but I don’t think it’s anything the chiefs can’t handle. I think kc is very capable of being 10-6.

    • Michael Shaw

      Agreed, but we HAVE to either sweep Den or split and we might have to sweep both OAK and SD to get to the 10 wins!!!

      • tm1946

        At least Travis likes our chances. Maybe if we break the knees of the QBs at the airport….. maybe not.

  • Ramil Ramirez

    I think that everyone is under estimating the CHIEFS. They are a completely different team, and being under Andy Reid for years 2. NFL and fans. Watch out. Love being the under dog.
    CHIEFS fan in San Diego

  • 7yahweh7

    Just how did we give up so many points, and just how did so many players suddenly get “injured” when it was clear that we were shoving Alex Smith miles deep into their defensive ass?

    The NFL is RIGGED. That’s how.

  • e_racer

    Sutton didn’t have all the pieces last season. I am not sure he has what he needs this year either, but he should be closer. If Bailey, DeVito, and Catapano can improve over last year: Vance Walker fill in for Tyson Jackson; the Chiefs find one more db to step up like Cooper… they should be good enough.

    I am not worried about Houston. The Chiefs should get him into camp before too much of the preseason transpires. In the mean time, Dee Ford will get more snaps, and he looks to be the right guy to take advantage of the situation. I am growing to like what the Chiefs did in the draft, although I really wanted a solid wide receiver. The biggest question for me is who replaces Flowers. Gaines worries me because he is just so light. I like his height, but he plays soft, and is not nearly as polished as was Flowers when Flowers was a rook.

  • FaAmos

    I don’t put any stock into anything this time of the year. We drafted Brandon Carr & Kendrick Lewis in the fifth rounds and McShay called them projects and pontial back ups and both started from day one and played top tier football so we don’t know what these no name players are capable of. We still have Sanders Commings who should play FS but if not he’ll be a CB and another will play FS. Reid has always had a few things on all his teams, an OL, a DL, a Defensive Backfield a QB and a RB and nothing is showing me this years Chiefs won’t have the same even if it takes till aeek 4 before we all mesh together. Only prob is are schedule is going to kill us. If make 8-8 with that schedule then we improved from last year.

  • FaAmos

    Also there’s no middle class QB contracts. It’s either 5-8mill back up or 18 mill starter QB money. KC needs to hold pat and I’d even call the Bangels and tell them this crazy QB money gotta stop so don’t you dare give Dalton a penny over 14mill and with Cinncy and KC they can set the middle of the pack starter QB contracts. Dalton and Smith don’t deserve Eli, Stafford, Cutler or the other top paid QB’s. Atlanta messed up giving Matty Ice top money when he is a middle of the pack QB like Dalton and Smith. Maybe deserves a mill or two more than Dalton and Smith but Smith should get 12-14mill a year and Matty Ice should had only got 15-16mill a year. There needs to be a middle of the pack starter QB contract price. There has to be and Smith already stole 100mill from the Niners so he should be ashamed trying to get top tier QB money now. KC stick to your guns and if he doesn’t budge get both Murray and chiefs 3rd stringer QB live playing time to see who’s gonna be ready by 2015-2016 season. Or trade Smith and play Murray and have a bad season and draft a top tier QB in next draft to take over if Smith won’t take 12-14mill. Hell he’s made 100′s of million already Reid needs to sit him down and say “look your not a QB that can carry a team, we pay you 18mill you won’t have any weapons, you take 12-14mill then we can afford to keep our defense and add offensive weapons. Take it or leave it and I’ll trade your ass