Chiefs: Pass Protection Must Improve For Kansas City To Have Success in 2013


John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to like about the Kansas City Chiefs heading into 2013, but the team does have a few glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed before the season begins.

One of those weaknesses is the lack of a true No. 2 wide receiver, and I discussed that at length in this feature.

Another issue is pass protection though, and that was extremely evident in Kansas City’s 15-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers this past Friday night.

The 49ers sacked Chiefs’ quarterbacks seven times during the preseason clash, which resulted in 39 negative yards for Kansas City. Seven sacks is seven too many, even in the preseason, and coach Andy Reid discussed the issue in a recent conference call with the media, per Reid Ferrin of

"“I think we have to do a better job of seeing them (blitzes) and picking them up,” coach Reid said.“Sacks kind of get distributed around to everybody. If you want to point at just the offensive line, it’s not always the offensive line; everybody’s got a little piece in that, so the bottom line is, we have to do better and those things can’t happen.”"

Starting quarterback Alex Smith also opened up pass protection, per Ferrin:

"“I think that kind of falls on all of us,” Smith said.“There were a few times that we didn’t bring in more than we had, the ball has got to come out and we have to execute outside. A few communication things up front we have to get ironed out.”"

Finally, according to No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, the game was a learning experience for the offense (Ferrin):

"“Tonight was a big learning night for us,” Fisher said.“We missed on some plays; I missed on plays. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win. There are things we need to improve on offense and we’ll watch the film, see our mistakes and learn from them and come back next week and try to pull out the win.”"

We’ve talked ad nauseam about the Chiefs’ offensive struggles here on Arrowhead Addict since Friday night. Much of it has come down to the passing game, and the fact that Smith hasn’t gone deep much, if at all. Dwayne Bowe is a huge target with superstar potential, so it really is perplexing to see that he has zero catches through two weeks, even in the preseason.

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The Chiefs need a No. 2 wideout to step up, but pass protection also needs to improve. There were times Friday night where the 49ers were all over Smith and the Chiefs’ quarterbacks, and no matter how good the receiver on the edge is, if a quarterback doesn’t have time to throw—he’s not going to be able to go deep.

It makes sense that Smith has been targeting tight end Anthony Fasano  and the running backs out of the backfield. At least on Friday night, he didn’t have the time to look anywhere else.

Getting Jamaal Charles back will help, because if anything, defenses will have to respect the running game, and that will force them to be less aggressive getting into the backfield.

Still, the NFL is a pressure league just as much as it’s a quarterback league. Defenses can dial-up a plethora of blitzes and pressure formations, and they’re so complex that even the best quarterbacks in the league have a hard time recognizing them from time to time. ads

That means it comes down to pass protection.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs have the offensive pieces to be great in 2013. Smith is a serviceable quarterback, Bowe and Charles are stars, and the tight ends and Dexter McCluster will really provide some mismatches.

None of that will mean anything if the Chiefs’ offensive line can’t protect the quarterback and give Smith time to find those weapons, though.

Pass protection needs to improve asap.