Chiefs: The Turnover Problems of 2012


It’s no secret, the Chiefs were terrible last season. Game in and game out, we would sit through some of the most miserable and pathetic performances from what was supposed to be a professional football team. The only things consistent about our offense, other than Jamaal Charles, were untimely penalties and turnovers.

Mar 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (right), quarterback Alex Smith (center), and head coach Andy Reid pose for photos during the press conference at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ahhh, there it is, that magic word: turnovers. The word that will always be used when talking about the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, who turned the ball over 37 times.

Thirty-seven times last season the Chiefs gave the ball to the opposing team. Twenty of them were interceptions, the other 17 were fumbles. That number tied them with the Eagles and Jets for the most in the NFL. That also tied them with the Eagles in giveaway/takeaway differential with -24.

In the week 6 match-up against San Diego, the Chiefs turned the ball over six times. SIX times. That was clearly the difference in that game. In the previous week against Baltimore, the Chiefs fumbled the snap on 1st and goal on the 1 yard line. On first down and ONE!! Later in that same game, Dwayne Bowe caught what would’ve been the go ahead touchdown, but the play was called back because of an offensive pass interference penalty. In a game where neither team scored a touchdown, those two boneheaded plays were the difference.

The Chiefs were plagued with horrible coaching and even worse quarterback play in 2012. In today’s NFL, you have to have a decent quarterback to even compete. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn did not play like decent quarterbacks last season. Cassel alone threw 12 interceptions and had 8 fumbles. He only appeared in 9 games, 8 of which he started. Cassel had 20 turnovers in just 9 games. That’s an average of 2.2 turnovers a game. Sounds about right when you reflect on when Cassel did start or play.

His late season replacement, Brady Quinn, stepped in and really wasn’t any better. Quinn threw 8 interceptions and had one fumble through just 8 games. So that means Quinn was good for at least one turnover a game, which also sounds about right.

May 15, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass during organized team activities at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the Chiefs had a problem at quarterback last season. The new regime made significant improvements at the position this off season with the additions of Alex Smith and Chase Daniel. When anyone speaks of Smith, the first thing they bring up is how “efficient” he is with the football. How he had a 70% completion rating and a 13-5 touchdown to interception ratio.

So when you have the worst, Cassel and Quinn, you go get the best. Well maybe not the best, but the one who has been the best at protecting the football the last few seasons. Having Alex Smith should help the Chiefs offense improve drastically in the turnover category.

Why did the Chiefs turn the ball over so much? That’s a question I’ve been pondering since the start of the 2012 season. Other than the interceptions and fumbles, one of the biggest problems they had was winning in the first down category. The Chiefs finished 28th in the league last season in first downs per game. They only averaged 17.9 per game where New England, who finished first, finished with an average of 27.6 per game. It makes sense, if your converting first downs you’re keeping your defense rested and likely going to score more points. Another huge issue the Chiefs had last season, was completions per game.

The Chiefs were 30th in pass completions per game last season. They only averaged 17.1 completions per game. That is just terrible, especially in today’s NFL. When opposing defenses knew that they couldn’t pass the ball, they sold out on stopping the run and forced the Chiefs bad quarterbacks to try and make plays. The offense was way too simple last season.

Smith will be the key in preventing the Chiefs from falling behind early in games. Andy Reid is designing this offense around it’s strengths which will be high percentage throws and being creative in the running game. When I say high percentage throws, I mean slant routes, go routes up the seams and quick hitches to wide outs. All the throws that Alex Smith has become a master of. Plays that should be very effective on first and second down, helping the Chiefs out in the first down category.

High percentage throws should also up the completions per game as well. The additions of tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce, will help open up the middle of the field for Smith. I look for Jamaal Charles to see a lot more catches this season too.

As we approach camp this week, we have a high optimism and expectation for this up-coming season. If Alex Smith can continue to improve like he has the past two seasons, the Chiefs have potential to be one of the best teams when it comes to turnovers. The potential points that were lost from the Chiefs and their turnovers last season is too hard to predict, but the additions of this off season will help to improve the Chiefs in almost every offensive category. So lets hope the word that we remember most with 2013, is improvement, and the number is in wins.