There Are No Style Points In The NFL


Only wins.

As a professional journalist, I find the logic of NFL journalists and commentators constantly fascinating. For the most part, the job seems to boil down a series of cliches, star worship and guesses.

The Chiefs have a bad wide receiving corps, therefore they are not a good team.

The Chiefs don’t have a top 5 quarterback, therefore they are not a good team.

The Chiefs are two games out of the division race, just behind Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, whom they just beat, so lets talk about Manning and Rivers.

Oct 26, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) drops back to pass against the St. Louis Rams at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 34-7. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

After the Chiefs put the beat stick on the St. Louis Rams last week, ESPN dropped the Chiefs a spot in its power rankings with the note that “Alex Smith is the first starting quarterback since Ryan Tannehill in Week 8 of 2012 to win a game without attempting multiple passes deeper than 10 yards downfield.” Most national commentators have also noted that Smith has yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this year.

Interesting trivia, but what is that supposed to imply? That Smith is incapable of passing downfield? He’s already shown that he can when he wants to in other games.

If anything, I think the fact that the Chiefs beat a team by 27 points with just one downfield pass attempt (which was completed, by the way) is merely an indicator of just how completely they dominated the Rams. Had the Rams mounted a comeback, I’m sure you would have seen the Smith set his sights downfield. But, if you’re playing for ball control and have an 86.2% pass completion percentage, why stop chucking the easy throws?

If your tight ends and running backs are significantly better football players than your wide receivers, why throw to the wideouts rather than them? Because that’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do? Last year, RB Jamaal Charles led the team in receptions, which is odd for his position. But, if he were originally a wideout rather than a running back, I believe he would be the best wideout on this team. It would be a negligent misuse of this roster (see Week 1: Tennessee) to focus on throwing to the likes of Donnie Avery and Junior Hemingway rather than him, RB De’Anthony Thomas and TE Travis Kelce.

Actually the way that the Chiefs game plans often run counter to NFL orthodoxy is one of the reasons I really like the Andy Reid Chiefs. Reid has put together a team that knows its strengths (most of the time), knows how to win with them and will impose its will on you.

Oct 26, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is tackled by St. Louis Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald (25) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Over the summer I wrote a piece comparing the Chiefs 2013 passing stats to those of three of the four teams that appeared in the championship games last year. KC’s numbers basically compared favorably to all of them. (By the way, although the Chiefs have yet to play Seattle, the team has played the other three teams that made it to championship games last year and have a collective score of 75-60 against them for whoever is counting.)

Despite what conventional wisdom may tell you, the teams with the flashiest QB and WR stats aren’t always the ones that do the best in the postseason. In fact, we had a great example of this last year when a record-breaking offensive team went head-to-head in the Super Bowl with a solid defensive team that posted pedestrian offensive numbers all season.

The Seahawks had fewer receptions by WR’s in the 2013 regular season than even the supposedly anemic Chiefs, and, of course, they crushed the high-flying Broncos 43-8.

I’m not saying that KC will be this year’s Seattle, but I’m saying there’s no reason they can’t be. Unfortunately that sort of thinking just does not compute in the mind of an “NFL expert.”

The Chiefs will in all likelihood roll over the New York Jets this weekend at Arrowhead, and they will turn few heads in doing so because the Jets (once again) are such a smoldering disaster. They will then go to Buffalo to play a team that is currently 5-3, but everyone will shrug at a Chiefs win there since Buffalo is surely overrated itself, they’ll say.

The real test will be when Super Bowl champs come to town in what may be a bid to save their season as well.

The Chiefs may not have a lot of clips on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of the week each week, but I guarantee you no one in this league – not even Seattle – wants to face them.