Lessons learned from the Chiefs “Close but no cigar Super Bowl run” season

January 28, 2016; Kahuku, HI, USA; Team Rice head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs instructs during the 2016 Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 28, 2016; Kahuku, HI, USA; Team Rice head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs instructs during the 2016 Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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1 Feature From The Bleachers
1 Feature From The Bleachers /

Lessons learned are like bridges burned,

You only need to cross them but once.

~ Dan Fogelberg, 1977

If we were young parents we’d be proud but protective right now. We’d want everyone on our Facebook page to notice how truly close we came, but also be embarrassed by some of our early weekly postings. Now we tell ourselves that following the second birth, we’ll be much better prepared to to deal with the tremendous demands.

Okay, enough of the simplistic similes or mortifying metaphors: the question is… have the Chiefs learned their lessons?

So, what are the takeaways from the Kansas City Chiefs 2015 season? Did the team learn anything from advancing to the brink of an AFC championship game?

Let’s take a look at a few we hope they learned from.

Are there lessons to be learned from…

… losing to New England while quarterback Alex Smith throws the ball 50 times but only produces 246 yards and 1 touchdown?

The Chiefs team ran the ball for 135 yards that day but 44 of those yards came from the quarterback position, on nine carries. That leaves 91 yards for all other rushers on the team combined. Also, adding the 9 running plays by quarterback Alex Smith means he was the primary producer on 59 out of 82 total offensive plays, or 72%. When one person becomes three-fourths of your offense… there is likely to be a problem.

So, what was that problem? Did the Chiefs run out of enough other dynamic offensive weapons?

The answer to that may come from the Chiefs leading receiver that day who happened to be there 4th receiver on the depth chart, the soon to be 33 years old, Jason Avant. Avant, who had 15 total receptions all season long, but had 4 catches that day, said in a post game interview, “I give 100% all the time, every time I step out there. I just don’t get the opportunity.

Isn’t that the way it’s designed? Not to have the leading receiver be your 4th receiver… but to have your #1, #2, or #3 guy… be the one to step up. Your #4 guy shouldn’t get many “opportunities” if #2 and #3 are quality receivers… in the case your #1 WR goes down. When your 4th receiver on the depth chart is the one attempting to pull the team from the ashes… it’s probably not going to work. And, it didn’t.

Lesson Learned #1: Make sure your roster is stocked with more than one #1 wideout who is taxing opposing defenses. Otherwise, you’ll be asking too much of those who have too little to give, especially when everything is on the line.

Will the Chiefs learn the lesson this off-season? I believe so. I’d be surprised if the WR corp doesn’t have a new member in 2016 when opening day arrives. Maybe two. After all, there are many, many talented wide outs in this year’s draft.

Are there lessons to be learned from…

… the two teams who made the Super Bowl who both have exceptional defenses but only one of their offenses is exceptional?

Perhaps it’s a tired maxim to say that “Defense wins championships” but this year it’s true that defense is what has propelled these two teams all the way to the last game of the season.

So, what is to be learned from this? Does that mean the Chiefs should do more to keep an excellent defense together more than they should fix their offense?


And… no.

First of all, the Kansas City Chiefs must continue to secure the services of players… and/or prospects… who they believe can win a championship.  Without a defense that is at least “as good” as the defense they fielded in 2015, the Kansas City Chiefs will not be competing for the Lombardi next year.

Many will disagree on how to approach “fixing the defense” or, “keeping the defense together”… but if you look at the two offenses in the Super Bowl you may believe, as I do, that the Chiefs offense is better than the Broncos. Consequently, if the Chiefs defense takes a step backwards in 2016, the offense that was just unable to produce a win in New England will likely be in the same position again simply because they will be forced to produce more than they are capable of producing.

The big financial challenges come on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, so those need to be addressed… first.

There also seem to be a greater number of positions in question on the defensive side of the ball. Whereas, with the offense, not to state things too simplistically, come down to needing a first rate, good hands, excellent route running, speedy wide out… plus an excellent starting offensive lineman on the right side, albeit a right guard or a right tackle will do.

In any event, molding the offense appears to be a one or two local artist’s job… while rendering the defense looks like a job for a Rembrandt or possibly a Van Gogh. One will cost a few draft picks but the other will cost an ear and a leg.

Certainly, John Dorsey and Andy Reid have outlined their off-season plan by now. While I’m convinced they are aware of the plethora of high quality defensive tackles in this draft I’m hoping they realize a bird in the hand is worth… enough to keep Jaye Howard in red & gold.

I have no desire to turn this into a Jaye Howard vs. Dontari Poe debate… but given a choice, I believe I’d go with Howard. While Poe typically pushes the pocket backwards… Howard penetrates the pocket. Also, I believe Howard’s lateral quickness is better against the run. Both players require a double team to be stopped so for me this gets down to who can be afforded best as the team attempts to put together a championship roster who’s budget can be lived with. Since I believe Howard can be had for less… especially with the potential for continued back issues with Poe…. if it comes down to Howard or Poe… I’m going with Howard.

Also, a top defensive tackle drafted this year can be developed and be ready to step in in 2017 if Poe is gone by then.

Lesson learned #2: Make sure you fix what is the most broken… first. The defense needs to be addressed first and foremost or it won’t matter how much you spend fixing the offense.

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