The Chiefs just got very dangerous


There has been a lot to be excited about for Kansas City Chiefs fans in recent weeks.  The team is playing inspired football, and have been viewed by many as one of the best teams in the league during their current five game winning streak.  That isn’t an empty statement either.  Wins over playoff contenders Pittsburgh, Denver, and Buffalo, as well as blowout wins against San Diego and Detroit.  All that without the player that many of us would have called the most essential piece to our success, Jamaal Charles.  Plain and simple, the Chiefs are doing what good teams do.  They are beating other good teams, dominating bad teams, and not letting injuries slow them down.

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For the most part, it has been the formula that we all expected.  An aggressive defense paired with an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over.  It really is a recipe for success.  We know that the Chiefs will play a conservative offensive system, try and force turnovers, and essentially win the battle of field position in order to claim victory.  And truthfully, there really aren’t many teams in the NFL that can claim to be better at that than KC.  It’s a brand of football that built the strong Chiefs squads of the 90s, and it is proving to be effective again.

However, this past week against Buffalo, something happened to throw all of that out.  The Chiefs introduced a new wrinkle to their offense that will likely have teams reeling over the next few weeks, and could make Kansas City very tough to gameplan against in the playoffs…

The Kansas City Chiefs discovered the long ball.

The Chiefs surprised the Bills with a deep pass attack. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith has been oft-criticized by Chiefs fans for not throwing deep.  It has led to a number of heated debates all across the interwebz.  That is not without good reason.  Over the last several years, dating back to the Cassel Era, the Chiefs have been easy to gameplan against.  They didn’t throw the ball deep, so teams would simply put eight men in the box and leave just one safety deep.  There was no reason to do otherwise as the Chiefs would oblige that strategy.  Was that Alex Smith’s fault?  Andy Reid’s?  The offensive line?  The wide receivers?  Well, yes.  It was all of those factors.  But regardless of assigning blame, it stood clear that the Chiefs were not a threat to go downfield.

Imagine the Bills surprise when KC did just that on multiple occasions.  That’s right, I’m not simply referring to that one touchdown.  Nor just the deep ball that was actually a little short.  There was also another deep ball to Maclin down the right side.  There was the touchdown pass to Kelce (though statistically only 15 yards).  There was the deep shot attempt to Conley that I think will be an instant hook up if they keep working on it.  That is five shots down the field by a team that plays a conservative offensive system.

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Of course, there will be those who say it only happened because the Chiefs were losing (many of them ignoring their previous stance that Alex Smith could not lead a comeback).  That is besides the point.  The point is that the Chiefs just proved to the NFL that they can attack down the field if and when they need to.  Oh, and they did it against a pair of corners that a lot of pundits have been hyping as the top tandem in the league this year.  The rest of the league will take notice on that.  If Smith can pick on Gilmore and Darby (yes, you really did just read that), then he can pick on just about any cornerback tandem in the league.

The deep ball attack didn’t take away from the running game as Spencer Ware put up 116 yards and a TD on just 19 carries. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

But it wasn’t just the deep ball.  The real beauty of this new wrinkle is that the Chiefs showed everyone that it wouldn’t take away from the rest of their gameplan.  KC still ran the ball effectively with third string running back Spencer Ware racking up 116 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries.  And he did that behind a patchwork offensive line that had to be adjusted three times during the course of the game.  The Chiefs showcased a balanced and effective offensive attack, and did so after basically spotting the Bills 10 points.  The exact kind of offense Chiefs fans have been pining for finally appeared on the day when the defense and special teams got off to a rocky start.

With five games left on the schedule, all against teams in the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed, we should expect to see a little bit more of this deep attack.  It really is the perfect time to unveil this.  It gives the Chiefs time to perfect their attack, while also not giving their opponents much time to plan against it.  Having a reliable deep passing attack, on top of their strong defense, running game, and special teams play, will make the Chiefs one of the toughest teams to face in the playoffs.  It is certainly something that most defensive coordinators would not have anticipated having to plan for against KC.  And while the Chiefs certainly knew they had the ability to do it (just ask Alex Smith), I doubt they knew just how effective they could be at it.