Add yet another publication that expects the Kansas City Chiefs to be a much improved team from last year.
Pro-Football Focus released their season preview for the Chiefs and gave an optimistic view of the future, citing the regime changes and the roster as the main reasons for an improved result in 2013.
Andy Reid brings a strong leadership presence that the Chiefs have lacked in recent years. He is known for getting quarterbacks to succeed in the West Coast offense, and the addition of Alex Smith should be a good match for his system. Reid can get the ball to his playmakers without being as predictable as the Chiefs’ offense has been in the past. On the other side of the ball, he made a smart decision by sticking with a base 3-4 defense that best suits the Chiefs’ roster. New coordinator Bob Sutton has plenty of 3-4 experience, but will also use many different looks in sub-packages to get the most out of the Chiefs.
There is also a lot of love for Brandon Flowers in their breakdown of the 2013 Chiefs. PFF lists Flowers as being the third best cover cornerback in the league since 2008, behind only Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson. Their metrics also say Flowers has allowed only 50.9% of passes thrown his way to be completed. There is a lot of talk about how good the linebacking group is, Eric Berry, and the additions of Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, but there is a pretty good case that Brandon Flowers is the best player on this defense.
On the down side, PFF does not seem to be as high on Alex Smith as others have been. While they note Smith is a clear upgrade from Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn, they still have their doubts about how successful he can be in Kansas City.
[Smith] still has some limitations in passing and won’t have San Francisco’s top-ranked offensive line from last year blocking for him. His arm strength is below average and hinders his ability to stretch the field. His average depth of target was 8 yards or less the last two years, among the lowest of all quarterbacks. In addition, the 49ers’ offense had the fewest pass attempts in the league over the last two regular seasons. How will Smith adjust to taking control of a pass-first offensive approach and being the most important role on offense?
Alex Smith is one of the reasons (assuming health) why Kansas City should be done with sub-six win seasons for a while, but he is also one of the reasons why the Chiefs ceiling isn’t very high in the near-term. Kansas City’s offense is going to be defined by Smith not turning the ball over and players around him creating big plays. Right now the quantity of playmakers surrounding Smith are limited to Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. That’s just not enough for the Chiefs to be anything more than a slightly above average offense.
But, again, if the defense plays to their potential, the Chiefs won’t need more than above average offense to compete for a wild card spot. And as long as you can get to the playoffs then anything can happen.