Kansas City Chiefs: Stock Up!
In full disclosure, I am a big Andy Reid fan. I love his pedigree and philosophy on all things football. In my opinion, he is the best quarterbacks coach in the NFL. He moved the likes of AJ Feeley, Jeff Garcia and to a lesser degree – Michael Vick – into relevancy. Quick question; How many QB’s had success after moving on from the Philadelphia Eagles during Andy Reid’s tenure? Think about it….Let it marinate….NONE! Feeley (Miami), Kevin Kolb (Arizona), Donovan McNabb (Washington/Minnesota) all flamed out pretty quickly on new teams. But all had good season(s) under Reid’s watch. Including last year’s 3rd round pick in Nick Foles who looked to be a possible franchise QB at times. Andy Reid is the “QB Whisperer”….
The Andy Reid offensive system is very QB friendly and is not necessarily based on big time arm strength. It’s a rhythm and timing offense based off West Coast principles. A quick study of game film will reveal a lot of three and five step drops that allows the receivers to catch the ball quickly and break tackles. I believe his move to the Kansas City Chiefs will pay dividends in the not so distant future.
The first domino to fall in what I expect to be a rapid turnaround for the Chiefs was the acquisition of Alex Smith from the 49ers. A former number one overall selection, Alex Smith has been maligned for much of his career. His team has gone through coach after coach and offensive system after offensive system. Just when it seems as though both Smith and the 49ers were finally building something special, he had the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath him.
In 2011, after posting the best stats of his career under new head coach Jim Harbaugh (Possibly the new “QB Whisperer”) 17 touchdowns as opposed to only 5 interceptions, a 61.3% completion percentage for a 90.7 rating. The 49ers finished with a 13-3 record, and the first playoff win in over a decade. This culminated with a trip to the NFC championship game. Needless to say with such a quick turn of evens in San Francisco, the team looked every bit the part of a budding dynasty. Led by a mad scientist at coach, an innovative offensive and defensive staff, the best defense in the league, and a reformed quarterback in Alex Smith. But we found out quickly that the NFL stands for “Not for long”.
Smith was replaced halfway through the 2012 season by 2nd year phenom, Colin Kaepernick, who proceeded to take the Niners one step further to the Super Bowl. Smith wasn’t replaced due to poor play. In-fact, after 7 games he posted 13 TD’s with 5 INT’s and a whopping 70.1% completion rate. As a matter of fact, his 104.1 QB rating was leading the league at the time of his demotion. Smith was a victim of circumstance. A concussion incurred in a game against the division rival St. Louis Rams signifying the beginning of the end for Smith’s tenure in the Bay.
Usually when new coaches are hired, they tend to lean towards new players they feel will fit their system. Coaches hate to hear they’ve won with another coach’s players (Which I always thought was weird. That coach couldn’t win with his own players, why would it even matter?!). Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL QB and known QB guru had drafted Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft, his first draft as an NFL head coach. Kaepernick has a cannon for an arm and Lamborghini wheels for legs. Those aforementioned attributes allow for an explosive run based, down-field passing offensive system. Alex Smith on the other hand has good but not great mobility. An average arm as far as the aptitude to achieve maximum velocity on his throws. He’s seen as more of a game manager than a game breaker. A QB who needs to be in a system based on rhythm, timing and accuracy. Sound familiar?
Andy Reid and Alex Smith are a perfect combination to lead the Kansas City Chiefs back to prominence. He is a perfect fit in Reid’s West Coast offense.
The Chiefs coming off a horrible season record wise, still managed to have six players in the Pro Bowl! They are a talented team on defense with some major pieces on offense. They have a budding superstar at running back, Jamaal Charles, who is entering his 5th season of play and is only 25 years old. Charles who missed 99% of the 2011 season with a torn ACL, bounced back in 2012 to the tune of 1,509 yards gained with 5 TD’s. If not for the Adrian Peterson’s record-breaking season coming off his own ACL injury – Charles would have garnered more national attention for such a great comeback season.
Reid made it his first order of business to re-sign impeding free agent Dwayne Bowe. Bowe will be undoubtedly be a star in Reid’s offense. His size (6’2 – 225 lbs) and tenacity makes for lethal combination in Reid’s quick strike offense. Bowe is one of the best tackle breakers in the league at the receiver position. Which matches the description required for this offense. Bowe arguably might be the best receiver Reid has coached since Terrell Owens, who’s first season in Philly in 2004 produced 1200 yards, 14 TD’s and trip to the Super Bowl. Throw in talented 6’4 – 230 lb, Jon Baldwin at the the 2nd receiver spot – and you can see that Reid is working with two monsters! The position of slot receiver can be filled by new acquired speedster, Donnie Avery. He of the 4.27 fourty yard speed. One of the fastest players in NFL history. Another intriguing offensive piece is part time slot receiver, running back and kick returner Dexter McCluster. Reid will have fun using him in the myriad of ways he used former pro bowler Brian Westbrook with the Eagles.
The Chiefs are loaded with talent. And can add another centerpiece in this upcoming draft as they hold the first overall selection. Draft specialists project the Chiefs to select an offensive tackle. This move would help compensate for the recently released Eric Winston, and add to one of the best lines in all of football. This could be the move that brings it all together offensively in 2013 for Kansas City.
The Chiefs possess many of the qualities of the two participants in this past Super Bowl. Both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers have superior offensive and defensive line play. The Chiefs can lay claim to that as well. Rush linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali spearhead a potentially dominant defensive front. Both Houston and Hali had 10 and 9 sacks respectively. With progression from 2nd year nose tackle, Dontari Poe, I expect those numbers to be at the very least replicated and even surpassed. Five-technique Mike Devito, formerly of the New York Jets, will be a key addition as well in the run game.
Owning one of the worst secondaries in the league last season, the Chiefs made a splash in signing Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson formerly of the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons respectively. These two corners are major upgrades over the players from last season. They will assist incumbent starter, Brandon Flowers, in anchoring perhaps the most improved secondary in the NFL. Possibly the most physical as well. Safety Eric Berry is a budding superstar in his own right.
The difference from being the worst team in the league as the Chiefs were to the best as the Ravens are, can be formulated by who’s coaching and who’s quarterbacking their respective teams. With the combination of a veteran QB who seems to be hitting his stride along with a seasoned coach who is known to get the best out of veteran QB’s. I see no reason why the Kansas City Chiefs won’t contend for a playoff spot next season. Who knows, maybe they will mimic the success of the 49ers…With Andy Reid in fold, I’ll bank on it!