Football Nation Preview: The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs
2012 Record: 2-14
Poor Quarterback Play
Matt Cassel (he of the $62M contract in 2009) and Brady Quinn (a first round pick among the barren quarterback class of 2007) combined for 8 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Each man went 1-7 as the starter, with Cassel throwing 6 of the 8 touchdowns.
The duo also combined (along with a Peyton Hillis incompletion) for a 63.8 passer rating, the second worst team rating in the league, ahead of only Arizona. Cassel was a far cry from his 2010 form that made the trade with New England look worthwhile.
According to Cold Hard Football Facts' "Offensive HOG Index", the Chiefs were also near the bottom of the league in two vital categories: percentage of passing plays ending in a sack or pick (11.48 percent, fourth worst in the NFL), and third down percentage (33.02 percent, fifth worst).
The Defense Crumbled
The 2011 Chiefs were in inconsistent team that actually had a strong defense. The offense did languish after Jamaal Charles bowed out for the year with an ACL injury, but it was Romeo Crennel's not-so-surprisingly stout defense that got the team to 7-9, including a win over the undefeated Packers after Crennel took over for the ousted Todd Haley.
With Crennel in full control over 2012, the defense went by the wayside.
In 2011, the Chiefs allowed 4.16 rushing yards a carry (fourteenth best in the league), but dropped to 4.50 yards a carry in 2012 (eighth worst in the league).
The defense that recorded a sack or an interception 10.14 percent of the time (sixth best) diminished soundly to 6.92 percent in 2012 (fourth worst). Their stoutness on third down also devalued, from 34.29 percent in 2011 (eighth best) to 39.11 percent (twelfth worst).
It becomes all the more clear how the defense that allowed 21.1 PPG in 2011 ballooned to 26.6 PPG a year later.
2013 Projected Wins: 6.5
Top 3 Rookies
-Eric Fisher, OT (1/1): Top pick in the draft replaces Eric Winston, and will help solidify the right side of the line with his powerful run blocking, and exceptional nimbleness for a man his size.
-Travis Kelce, TE (3/63): Andy Reid knows his brother Jason from Philadelphia, who has similar blocking credentials; little brother will come in handy downfield for Charles.
-Knile Davis, RB (3/96): Despite a battery of ankle injuries (one that caused him to miss the 2010 season at Arkansas), still possesses breakaway speed for a larger back.
Traded for QB Alex Smith while cutting Matt Cassel. Also traded for FB Anthony Sherman, sending CB Javier Arenas to Arizona. They replaced Arenas by signing Dunta Robinson from the Falcons, and Sean Smith from the Dolphins, to try and fix the defensive issues.
Reid set out to give Smith more offensive weapons, including wideout Donnie Avery (career high 781 yards last year), and veteran tight end Anthony Fasano (5 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons).
Key players like Dwayne Bowe and Brendan Albert were also retained; Bowe gives Reid his first playmaking receiver with considerable size and strength since Terrell Owens in the mid-2000s. Reid also adds familiar Philly faces in LB Akeem Jordan and S Quintin Demps.
Potential Starting Lineup
QB - Alex Smith
RB - Jamaal Charles
FB - Anthony Sherman
WR - Dwayne Bowe
WR - Jonathan Baldwin
TE - Tony Moeaki
LT - Branden Albert
LG - Geoff Schwartz
C - Rodney Hudson
RG - Jon Asamoah
RT - Eric Fisher
DE - Tyson Jackson
NT - Dontari Poe
DE - Mike Devito
OLB - Justin Houston
ILB - Akeem Jordan
ILB - Derrick Johnson
OLB - Tamba Hali
CB - Brandon Flowers
CB - Sean Smith
FS - Kendrick Lewis
SS - Eric Berry
K - Ryan Succop
P - Dustin Colquitt
LS - Thomas Gafford
2013 at a Glance
It's a new day for Andy Reid, as he takes his coaching smarts to the AFC for the first time. The mind behind six division titles, nine playoff appearances, and a conference championship in Philadelphia is tasked with turning around a team that seemed poised to break out at the start of this decade under Todd Haley.
Reid's brought with him a number of familiar coaches, including Brad Childress, Tommy Brasher, and Emmitt Thomas. New to his staff is defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who brings coordinating and coaching experience from the Jets, under both Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan.
With Crennel as coordinator, the defense was a reliable workhorse as mentioned in earlier. In fact, despite the breakdown in 2012, that side of the ball still boasts three Pro Bowlers: Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Eric Berry.
Robinson and Smith will look to aid Berry and Brandon Flowers, who combined for four of the team's miserably-low seven interceptions last season.
To help the defense, the offense has to not turn the ball over, which they did 37 times in 2012 (third worst total in the league). Alex Smith thrived the last two seasons under Jim Harbaugh's basic offense, throwing 10 interceptions in 25 games played (30 touchdowns).
Although Colin Kaepernick's emergence in San Francisco made Smith expendable, Smith's still fairly young (29). One problem he's faced is breaks in his growth, due to having eight offensive coordinators in eight years with the 49ers.
After flourishing under Greg Roman for two years, Smith is now paired with former quarterback Doug Pederson, which could be a downgrade.
2012 wasn't a good indicator due to the numerous injuries along the offensive line, but Reid has a good eye for protection.
Keeping Albert long-term was a must, and Reid saw world-class capabilities in Fisher, but center is going to be an issue. With Ryan Lilja retired, relatively inexperienced third-year player Rodney Hudson will try to fill his shoes.
Reid's offenses have been notoriously pass heavy, despite the presence of running backs like Duce Staley, LeSean McCoy, and Brian Westbrook. However, with Jamaal Charles still on top of his game (1509 yards last season), and Reid bringing Chris Ault, inventor of the "Pistol" offense, to consult, it seems as though Reid's finally realizing that many of his problems in Philadelphia were due to imbalance and predictability.
The last time Reid presided over a team that had an influx of name talent, and various coaching changes, was the doomed 2011 "Dream Team" in Philadelphia. Injuries, ill-fits, horrid playcalling, and a lack of cohesion would be his downfall.
Reid could eventually turn the Chiefs around, but it won't be in one year. There will be improvements, but it comes down to developing seamless play. Between a rebounding defense, and a revamped offensive line, those will take more than one season to hit their strides.