Cruising The West Coast, Kansas City Chiefs Style


I grew up on the west coast. It’s truly a sight to behold. Highway One on the west coast has it all. Grand vistas with sculptured foothills sloping downward to the Pacific which stretches past each peripheral horizon.

That pretty much sums up the “west coast” that we know, both geographically and offensively.

The Chiefs west coast is a sight to behold as well and when we last checked in it was producing 44 points and 513 yards of total offense without the services of their best player, running back Jamaal Charles.

Let’s not forget who the Chiefs really are. A west coast offense… with several variations. It’s not only made that way by Andy Reid who’s been dabbling in west coast sculpting for decades but, don’t forget that Brad Childress is in house and he is bit of a mad scientist himself when it comes to offensive approaches (his current title is “Spread Game Analysis, Special Projects”). Alex Smith was asked recently if the whole offense was now installed and he answered in the affirmative. However, when coach Reid was asked the same question he said “No.” And would you ever really expect that to change? I would hope not.

Many of us have mistakenly attempted to breakdown the Chiefs by only looking at one facet or another… when the truth is, you can’t analyse one part in a vacuum. It doesn’t work. The Chiefs offense is a west coast system and every comment we make about them needs to be couched within that awareness: within the whole context of their offensive system. offers that the west coast,

"“…offensive philosophy is a finesse, timing offense that emphasis a short passing game to control the ball. Most NFL offenses will use the running game to draw the linebackers and safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to open up the passing game for vertical attacks down the field. The west coast offense does the opposite by using a quick, short, timed, horizontal passing attack to set up the running game for longer runs or longer passes.”"

The game against the Colts in the playoffs is a perfect example of how to make the west coast offense work.

Here’s a simple breakdown of the most essential offensive plays from that game:

  • Alex Smith to Dwayne Bowe on a short slant from the right side at the goal line for TD #1.
  • Bowe lines up in the slot on the left this time and runs another slant, catches the ball and takes it 63 yards to the two yard line. A FG ensues.
  • Next Donnie Avery lines up outside on the right and runs a post up the middle and Smith connects with Avery for 79 yards and TD#2.
  • Alex Smith pitches a shovel pass near the goal to FB Anthony Sherman for TD#3.
  • In the meantime Smith keeps several drives alive with his legs picking up one first down after another.
  • Then it’s Knile Davis running it up the gut for TD#4. From the 10 yard line Alex Smith then uses his legs to avoid pressure and runs right and fading away throws off hi back foot to Knile Davis who has broken for the end zone along the right sideline.
  • A perfect touch pass landing gently in Davis lap for TD #5.
  • Smith to A.J. Jenkins on a crossing route for 27 yards with the bulk of those yards earned by Jenkins up the left sideline.

You can see many examples of what calls the west coast offense: finesse, timing, short passes, ball control, horizontal passes to set up the running game and short horizontal passes to set up the verticle passing game.

In that game the Chiefs went long with success. However, many Chiefs fans are calling for them to go long more and laying the burden for the fact that they don’t at the feet of Alex Smith saying “He can’t throw the long ball.” My bologna has a first name, it’s B-U-L-L. Many people seem to simply forget that it’s part of the design of the west coast approach.

The Chiefs overall progress brought them to the point that (almost) everything was clicking that day. Who could ask for more than 44 points and 513 total yards?

The Chiefs were cruising then. And, they’re cruising now.

The game in January is now a template.

The progress made up to that point has been carried over to OTAs. We’ve heard it several times now, most of the offensive players are in their second year. Sophomores. Been there done that. A point of context for those returning.

Yea… but should that matter so much?” Well, yea. Hell yea!

I remember my first year of college many moons ago. My older brother was a senior and I had visited campus many times because of him plus, I was staying with a coach off campus a whole week before all other students arrived. So, I had familiarity with the campus and during the first two weeks of school there I would be approached by total strangers walking up to me and asking for directions. I remember thinking… “don’t they know I’m a freshman just like them?” Somehow they could see that I knew the campus and knew what I was doing.

Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt. Research shows familiarity breeds “liking.”

The fact that the majority of the Chiefs offense — the players — have been through this before should make a world of difference come training camp and more importantly, on game day this fall.

One wideout who’s had a good spring is A.J. Jenkins. Do I expect big things from A.J. Jenkins? No, but I do expect him to make significant contributions. If you don’t like him and think he’s going to be a total bust at some point then ask yourself if GM John Dorsey did the right thing in trading for him and dumping Jon Baldwin? Jenkins skills are made for the west coast offense. Baldwins? Not so much. I’d be willing to bet Baldwin exits the league before Jenkins does. Perhaps you should go back and take a look at the play he gained 27 yards on in the game against the Colts. 24 of those yards are because of him. Go to the 6:20 mark of this video to see Jenkins run.

Every year the Chiefs have one player or another who has a “breakout year.” It was Eric Berry in 2010. 2011 Derrick Johnson (1st Pro Bowl). 2012 Justin Houston. 2013 Dontari Poe. If I had to choose someone on offense I would choose De’Anthony Thomas first and A.J. Jenkins second. However, the whole offense looks poised for a breakout year.

Chiefs fans should expect a very good year from TE Anthony Fasano too. In his 7 years as a pro prior to last season when he missed 7 games, Fasano only missed 4 games total. And he’s reportedly having an excellent spring too.

No one will be more responsible for the Chiefs offense “cruising” this year than Dwayne Bowe.

Following OTAs head coach Andy Reid was interviewed about the Chiefs #1 wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Reid went further to point out the importance of familiarity,

"“I think it’s two things. He’s (Alex Smith) more familiar with all of his receivers… Dwayne included. And then um, he’s more familiar with the offense, uh they all are. And so you hope that that’s the next step that takes place there that they can all pick their game up even a little better than last year.”"

Everyone recognizes that Dwayne Bowe is cruising this off season. Alex Smith spoke about Dwayne Bowe on Radio 810, The Border Patrol program this past week. He said,

"“I think if you look at Dwayne’s numbers over the last 6 or 8 games of the season period, I think they stack up with the best in the league. And I know early on, he wasn’t getting as many touches as he probably would have liked. And the thing I think I respect the most about Dwayne is… I’ve been around a lot of receivers and he is absolutely the most team-first receiver I’ve ever played with. Umm, the most selfless receiver, I mean he more concerned about whether we’re winning than how many catches he gets. Uh, it’s fun to be around as a quarterback, cause I’ve been around a lot of other guys and it’s been the other way.”"

“The most selfless receiver.”

Wow. How many of you have that perception of Bowe? In any case what should be taken away from Alex Smith’s comments is that Bowe is likely to have his best year yet.

Smith goes on to talk about how Bowe will be used,

"“…you know Dwayne was put in a lot of different situations… we were putting him in the slot, putting him outside, moving him around, finding matchups for him and he was handling it and doing such a great job with it, and I think that’s what you saw at the end of the season and then in the playoffs and if you happen to watch the OTAs you’re seeing the same thing, that he’s a guy that can do so many different things… he can match up against a corner, a linebacker and a safety and he’s going to win all those battles because of his size and strength and speed.”"

Smith also gave credit to Andy Reid and the coaching staff,

"“I think its more having to do just with the entire offense kind of getting a feel for each other, but mainly I think coach Reid and the offensive staff really feel and understand what were good at.”"

Maybe that includes knowing their own players well enough to “not” draft a WR when everyone outside of the organization was clamoring for them to do just that.

You can do that when… you know and have confidence in what you’ve got.

When you’ve got confidence… you’re cruising.

Totally dude.

What do you think Addict fans? Ready to see some cruisin’ at Arrowhead?