K.C. Chiefs: Pass getting a pass

1 of 3

The Kansas City Chiefs have played two games so far. Both very exciting games (and he clears his throat). Following the victory over the Houston Texans much of the fan base went into a winner’s daze and perhaps were unable to see the team in front of them clearly. A second game, a tragedy of errors, has done little to clarify who this team really is (although one online service, NFL.com, now ranks them as high as #6). However, it’s been argued that these Chiefs don’t yet have an identity. That’s because of the pendulum swing in perception that comes from a big first weekend road win to a opening home franchise convulsing loss.

When you win… it can hide the zits.

When you lose (in shocking ways)… it can hide the same zits.

Either way, something has to be done or a bad complexion can keep you from an invitation to the ball… the big dance… a playoff game winning party… as well as February’s fabled festivities.

While Andy Reid’s recurring play calling crisis and Jamaal Charles momentary lapse in securing the ball have taken center stage for the plaintiff’s (the fans) case against the defendant (the team), the fact that the Chiefs are not being as successful in the passing game, as we were led to believe they would be in 2015, is obscuring hard evidence from the jury (everyone).

I’m ready to take the broad view (no wise cracks) of the Chiefs passing game for what it is… so far (heck, it’s only been a two game season but that’s enough to pass judgement on, right?). The production of the quarterback is a measuring stick for the effectiveness of the passing game but it’s not the whole picture.

Alex Smith may be passing at a 65.5% success rate but, it’s clear the passing game is not the tool it was designed to be for this year’s Chiefs. Have you ever used a shovel to pound a stake into the ground? No? Well I have, and it’s not the optimum tool for driving long pieces of metal into the earth.

I’ve always known that Andy Reid has used the short passing game, in part, as a substitute for the running game. However, the part of the passing game that is supposed to produce big plays, is almost completely absent. The word mirage comes to mind. I mean, if you were asleep since last season and then woke up to watch these two games, would you mistake Jeremy Maclin for Dwayne Bowe? I would. Absolutely.

Is that the number one reason for why Kansas City lost to Denver? I’d say it certainly could be. That’s part of my working hypothesis. Although there’s no science to back up my theoretical conclusions, the very fact that there are no explosions going on in Andy’s lab, gives my deductive assumptions all the proof that needs proof-i-fy-ing.

Also… I didn’t say the number one reason that “Denver beat Kansas City”… because I believe this was a game the Chiefs lost… and not a game that Denver won. When you consider that the fame induced Peyton Manning had two convincing drives all game long… it’s hard to give credit to the Broncos for reeling in a big fish. No, this was a story about the one that got away… from K.C.. You see, their defense is excellent, but even then, it appears to be more about what the Chiefs offense didn’t do… that lost the game for Kansas City.

So, what is it that the Chiefs passing offense isn’t producing that helped them lose that game? Or, better put, what could their offensive passing game have done to help the Chiefs win that contest?

Firstly, it was absolutely clear that the Denver defense was crowding the line of scrimmage so well that Andy Reid’s horizontal passing game wasn’t working either.

On the vertical side, Jeremy Maclin did have 4 catches for 57 yards with his longest going for 30 yards. That means his 3 other catches averaged less than 10 yards per catch. With only 4 out of 7 targets finding their way into Jmacs hands, none of this is exactly what we were dreaming of when Maclin came to town.

Travis Kelce had almost the exact same numbers except he caught 4 of his 5 targets.

James O’Shaughnessy has been a pleasant surprise and his ramble down the right sideline for 30 yards was an excellent play on his part. However, his effort produced the yards after catch and those were “the” reason that play gained so many yards. None of that was due to Alex Smith throwing the ball deep down the field.

Next: Can Alex Smith create explosive plays on his own?