Chiefs things I think – 3rd quarter edition

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Nov 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley (17) cannot make the catch as Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) defends during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Inside vertical passing game shows trust in WRs

A lot of people have taken notice of Alex Smith’s forays into passing downfield over the past few games. I am certainly one of them. Its an important development for Smith and the team. He’s playing as well as he ever has in Kansas City, in my opinion and many others. That’s critical, but its only part of the picture.

On the receiving end, there has been progress as well. particularly, the young receivers have been getting a chance to use their advantages against the defense. Albert Wilson and Chris Conley have speed and Reid/Smith are taking game-changing shots with it right down the middle. The skinny post route was hard to find in the first half of the season, but has appeared recently. While it hasn’t scored yet, the deep pattern shows Smith trust in these two young receivers to win one-on-one battles in the heart of the defense. A very encouraging sign.

Pass rush will be in question in 2016

Tamba Hali has had a surprising season. Many questioned if he could still play following 2014. He’s producing more by practicing less and that is a good plan.  Can it work in 2016 too? I am not too sure of that. Dee Ford has gotten a start in relief of Justin Houston. He applied some pressure, but is not yet ready to step into Hali’s role in 2016. He has his first step, but hasn’t developed beyond that aspect. So where does that leave John Dorsey?

It leaves Dorsey scouting for an edge rusher. Without Ford becoming a legitimate threat on every down, the team needs another rusher in this draft. Tamba could return in 2016 and contribute. For my money, a pass rush 3-4 OLB likely has to be selected in the first two days of the 2016 draft.

Bob Sutton was slow to adjust.  Is he ready to adapt again?

Bob Sutton was stubborn. Early this season, his head was in the sand. At one point, it looked likely he would not be the defensive coordinator in 2016. Luckily, he was able to adapt. He began mixing things up at both the front and the back of the defense. The success has been consistent over the last 6 weeks of the team’s current winning streak. They have given up an average of 13.5 points per game in that stretch. That is likely to continue over the next four games, although teams with nothing to lose can be dangerous.

The real test will come in the post season if the team maintains its wildcard status. Indy will have Andrew Luck back in the lineup if the Chiefs finish as the fifth seed. If they slip to the sixth seed, they’ll likely face Tom Brady. Either QB will attack the Sutton defense in new ways.  Instead of five games to adjust, he’ll have 15 minutes to adapt. I think he’s ready for that.

Next: Sean Smith and Knile Davis are questions