Examining the Chiefs Offense
By Eric Paolini
In the debut of their new regime, the Kansas City Chiefs handled the Jaguars for four quarters. The defense pitched a shutout, and on the offense tallied three touchdowns, a number uncommon for the Chiefs of 2012. With the game in hand early, and with Jamaal Charles dealing with a quad injury, Kansas City kept things simple on offense.
It turns out, simple appears to be the Chiefs’ offense, at least to a certain extent. Against Jacksonville, Alex Smith dinked and dunked and didn’t look that impressive. Although, why would you tip your hand more than you have to? It doesn’t take much to beat the Jags, so it would be a better option to keep things slightly hidden and the game film light. Except that in Week 2, playing Dallas, the Chiefs kept things simple once again.
All game long, Smith -- and the entire offense -- nibbled on the edges. Throughout his career, Smith has had a low yards-per-attempt average. He has never been confused with Peyton Manning as a quarterback who can drop back 35 or so times a game and make every imaginable pass. An offense built around Smith is naturally going to be a bit more controlled. But through two games, the offense is: Sporadically give the ball to Charles and throw it short and quick.
Entering Andy Reid’s homecoming game tonight against the Eagles in Philadelphia, it appears the Chiefs have a mind-set of playing with the lead. There is no evidence as to what this team would be able to do if it had to gain yards quickly. The Chiefs are clock bleeders via both the run and pass. Granted it’s been only two games, but through those matchups the Chiefs are 27th as a team in yards per attempt (5.29). Even if you disregarded the Jaguars game as offensively irrelevant (which I think you can somewhat), Smith’s 6.19 average against the Cowboys is still subpar. These are the types of numbers that Smith was putting up during his bad years in San Francisco.
I don't want to overreact because it has been only two games, but the offense seems to be built around check downs. The Chiefs have athletic playmakers on offense, and getting them the ball in space isn't necessarily a bad option. But if that’s the majority of the offense, that could very easily be trouble when Kansas City needs to come from behind.
Throughout his time in San Francisco, Smith often turned to his tight end (Vernon Davis) and running back (Frank Gore). Now in Kansas City, Smith can turn to Charles. This is an aspect of the offense that should work really well. Nearly half of Charles’ touches against the Cowboys were in the passing game. His eight receptions against Dallas were twice the output of any other Chief.