This Could Be The Best Chiefs Team In Recent Memory


Since the 1999-2000 season, I can say I’ve been an avid Chiefs fan. That year happened to be Gunther Cunningham’s first as head coach and Derrick Thomas’ last as a player. Through the years I’ve seen great Dick Vermeil offenses let down by offensive defense, Herm Edwards and the end of the Carl Peterson era, and the catastrophe of Scott Pioli’s tenure.

I’ve never witnessed a Chiefs playoff win, but there’s a different feeling with John Dorsey and Andy Reid’s leadership – a feeling of legitimacy that has been absent since Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Montana. This team and organization have the makings of the best I’ve yet witnessed as a fan.

At 5-3, this season’s squad is ahead of what it was at 8-0 last year. The Chiefs were undefeated halfway through 2013 because of a stout defense and a soft schedule. There were concerns about the offensive production and if it could win games against playoff-caliber opponents. After a 9-0 start, the defense took a step back while the offense stepped up, but it wasn’t enough to win late-season games against quality competition.

This season, Kansas City already is 3-2 against the likes of Miami, San Diego, New England, Denver, and San Francisco, and seem to be improving with each game. The wins aren’t being left to the defense anymore. Alex Smith led a game-winning drive against San Diego. Last week, St. Louis jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, only to be shut out 34-0 the rest of the way. Sunday it was the Chiefs jumping on the Jets early, and never allowing them back into the game.

The group Dorsey has brought together has only improved under Reid and staff, while developing a winning mentality.

Forming an Identity

Slowly but surely, this is becoming a franchise that will compete, regardless of who plays. Injuries have sidelined important players, but each backup that has filled a role has done so without too much dropoff. They play the game week in and out with the same amount of toughness, regardless of the opponent.

Nov 2, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) scores a touchdown against the New York Jets in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The offense is a power offense, because the explosive playmakers  are running backs rather than receivers. Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, and De’Anthony Thomas each have the ability to outrun defenses provided enough space, they don’t shy away from contact, and are elusive (maybe not as much in Davis’ case) in the open field. All three are home-grown, and each has played a role in the return game at some point.

Leading receivers Travis Kelce and Dwayne Bowe feed further into the power concept. Both are large and tough to bring down with arm-tackles. If they are able to shake off the first tackle, big things can happen. Donnie Avery is the one proven vertical threat outside, but injuries have kept him off the field.

Not to be lost is the offensive line, which has better protected Smith lately, even against tough defensive fronts like St. Louis and New York. Often times players like Eric Fisher and Rodney Hudson are seen hustling downfield throwing important blocks for runners. It is somewhat of a random group for sure – Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson were projected starters in the preseason – but Chris Simms at least thinks they’re currently second best in the league (link can be found on my Twitter account @mister_wri6ht).

They have weapons, just not in the traditional sense. Reid gets a high amount of potential out of the offense, utilizing his players in the best way to keep the defense guessing. Whether it’s Dwayne Bowe on a slant or hitch, Kelce or Tony Fasano over the middle, DAT on the jet sweep, Charles on the screen, or downhill running by Davis, it’s hard to guess what they’ll do next. It’s effective and fun to watch.

Nov 2, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Josh Mauga (90) and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (94) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The defense again is effective rushing the passer this year, if not more consistent. The unit leads the league in opponent passing yardage at 199 yards per game, is fifth in total defense, and second in points allowed per game. They are 19th against the run, which has been evident in most games, especially on early down runs.

The D hasn’t created many turnovers to be so highly ranked, but it almost makes sense. They are only allowing a touchdown in the red zone 50 percent of the time this season, and 43 percent of the last three games. Regardless of how they get put in that position, they are keeping teams from scoring seven almost the majority of the time. The score Sunday was 24-10 with 5:06 left in the third quarter. The Jets had first-and-goal at the Kansas City 3 by the end of the quarter, but would not score in four tries. They are simply playing on a superior level right now.

“Kill! Kill! Kill!”

We often like to compartmentalize and label things, and NFL quarterbacks are no exception. Before the telecast Sunday, the announcers spoke about how Alex Smith had broken the franchise single-game mark for completion percentage, after completing 86.2 percent of his passes against St. Louis. This is the type of record he would set, yet he is called a game manager like it is a negative thing.

He is an efficient player that makes what he feels is the best decision each play. Currently he heads the Chiefs’ all-time passing list (of those who have started a full season) in completion percentage and quarterback rating. Since the Tennessee game, he’s thrown 10 touchdowns to one interception. He is right in the upper echelon of completion percentage in the league this year and the team is sixth in time of possession.

He does not have flashy yardage numbers and probably won’t ever. He is on pace this season for a career-high 3,384 yards. With the way the receiving corps is, not many quarterbacks would come to KC throwing for 4,000 yards anyway. He is the ideal fit with Reid and the West-Coast offense, which is successful through the run and short passes. When there’s nowhere to throw the ball, he can run. At 16-7 as the Chiefs starter, he can manage the game as well as anyone.

If Smith is going to be labeled a game manager, we may want to start considering him on an elite-level in that tier, or lose the label altogether.


It’s not a big deal that there hasn’t yet been a touchdown reception by a receiver. If a slant meant for Bowe doesn’t get tipped to Anthony Fasano, or AJ Jenkins doesn’t fall down before reaching the endzone, that stat loses relevancy. It’s a lot like the “defense hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown yet” stat – we all know it will come to an end, and usually it’s overblown in the first place.

Nov 2, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs former running back Priest Holmes on the sidelines before the game against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So does that make Trent Green 1-0 in Chiefs CBS broadcasts? With Priest Holmes also going into the Ring of Honor, Sunday was just meant to be a good day for KC.

Man I root for AJ Jenkins to finally have that breakthrough game/moment. He has the talent to be good, but it’s like he’s not getting enough looks or he’s just not getting open at all.

Phil Gaines has looked good so far when he’s played in the No. 2 corner spot. Being that he’s a rookie, it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually became the team’s top corner. He’s looked faster than the other corners, and outside of Ron Parker is the most physical tackler.

It felt really good watching Eric Decker lose in Arrowhead, even though he scored.

I would rather Cairo Santos throw his legs out and get a tripping call instead of using his whole body to get crushed or juked. He prevented what might have been a touchdown, and the Chiefs need him to kick. Might as well keep kicking.

Sometimes I wonder what the offense would look like with a little more Albert Wilson here and there.

Next: A review of the keys to the season’s second quarter, and a look ahead to the third quarter of the schedule.