Gone are Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are nowhere to be seen. Carl Peterson, Todd Haley, Herm Edwards, Tyler Palko, and Brodie Croyle are distant memories. It is a whole new era for the Kansas City Chiefs as camp opened Monday with the arrival of rookies and quarterbacks.
Chief fans are doing their best to erase the memory of last season’s 2-14 debacle, where nothing went right. Fans want to forget the fact the franchise only has 2 winning season in the past 7 since Dick Vermeil left, and that those 5 losing seasons were among the worst in franchise history.
In the two winning seasons, in which the Chiefs appeared in the playoffs both years, Kansas City was 19-13. In the other 5 seasons, the Chiefs went 19-61. Let that sink in a bit – 19-61 (24%). In the last 7 seasons combined, the Chiefs 38-74 (34%). That is a lot of bad memories to try to forget.
Enter new General Manager John Dorsey and new Head Coach Andy Reid. Pretty much the first thing they did was overhaul the quarterback position. Cassel and Quinn are gone, and Alex Smith and Chase Daniel are in.
The Reid/Smith combination seems an odd, mismatched one. Reid’s offenses are known for throwing the ball around quite a bit, and Smith has been more of a game manager throughout his career. In just the past 4 seasons, the Philadelpia Eagles under Reid, finished no lower than 13th in the league in pass attempts. The 49ers have not finished higher than 21st. In fact, in the past two years, when Smith has ranked high in quarterback ratings, San Francisco was 31st in pass attempts both years.
The only two times Smith has thrown more than 372 passes in a season were in 2006 and 2011, which were also the only two seasons he played all 16 games. For his career, Smith has averaged 27.2 passes a game. Compare that to Donovan McNabb as an Eagle. He averaged 32.1 passes a game under Reid. While 5 passes more a game doesn’t sound like much, that’s 80 passes over the course of a full season and that is significantly more passes.
The question is if Andy Reid will tailor his offense to suit the past performances of his quarterbacks and their styles, or will he re-shape the quarterbacks themselves? Can Smith be effective if asked to air it out a bit more? Can Daniel run a football team if called upon?
The hope is that with the new look Chiefs, the passing game will be efficient and that will open things up even more for running back Jamaal Charles. While it is yet to be seen if the Chiefs have a deep threat among their wide receivers, a more consistent passing game would surely help Charles, one of the more explosive backs in NFL history, find even more room to roam.
It would not be surprising at all if the Chiefs start relying on short, quick hitting passes under the coverage. They may not have the personnel to attack deep on a regular basis. Alex Smith is mobile; he doesn’t not have to remain in the pocket to be effective. We might see more roll outs than in recent years. Anything to create space for the offensive weapons to make plays. Daniel, in his college days at Missouri, was also creative.
It will be very interesting to see how the Chiefs offense will evolve with Reid calling the plays and Smith executing them. No one can really say for sure how this offense will look. Best guess is that Reid isn’t even sure, although he certainly has a vision in his head. The best thing though for Chiefs fans is that it should not be stagnant like the last few years. If we knew what was coming on most plays from our seats in the stands or from our living rooms, you can bet the defenses knew what was coming. Reid and Smith should change that element of predictability.
Just having something new and positive to look forward offensively is enough for now. In a couple of months, we will have a better idea how this Andy Reid/Alex Smith duo will work. One thing is for sure, it is nice to be positive about football again.