With the NFL getting set to enter its fifth week, there have been many surprise teams. The Tennessee Titans, a team that has struggled a bit over the past couple of seasons find themselves sitting at 3-1, currently in second place in the AFC South. Unfortunately, the surprises aren’t just positive ones. Teams such as the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers are both off to 0-4 starts.
In a season full of surprises, one of the biggest offenders are the Kansas City Chiefs. Coming into the season, the Chiefs had many questions. How fast will Andy Reid be able to change the culture of this team? Will Alex Smith have continued success in Kansas City? Is the defense going to be good enough to be able to keep them in the games?
Well, a quarter of the way through the season, some of these questions have already been answered. The answer to the first question is, quickly. Andy Reid has been able to change the culture of the Chiefs in just a matter of months. How about the second question? Well, so far, Alex Smith has thrown for seven touchdowns as opposed to just two interceptions, posting a quarterback rating of 89.9. But how about the last question? There is no way that a defense that was ranked 20th last season will be able to how such a quick turnaround, right? Wrong! This season the Chiefs defense has been a force to be reckon with. Through the first four games the Chiefs defense has recorded a league leading 18 sacks, while intercepting opposing quarterback five times.
It’s crazy to think that a team that finished last season with the worst record in football can turn it around so quickly. There 4-0 start is certainly impressive. But is it really as big of a surprise as people are making it out to be?
Despite being just a 2-14 team last season, the Chiefs were able to net six Pro Bowlers. Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Dustin Colquitt were all good enough to make the Pro Bowl roster. So how is it that a team with so much talent failed to have a winning season?
Well, for starters, they had a huge hole at the quarterback position. Both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are career backups. Last year, they were both the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart. Combined, Cassel and Quinn threw 8 touchdowns and 20 interceptions last season. Now, when you get that type of play from your quarterbacks, you aren’t going to win too many games. Since they were so mediocre at the quarterback position last year, play makers such as Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster and Steve Breaston were inefficient.
Another reason this team struggled last season was the coaching staff. Head coach Romeo Crennel has been around the game of football for a long time and has an excellent football. Crennel is an excellent coordinator, however, being the head man for the job isn’t exactly his forte. In his two terms as a head coach (one with Cleveland, one with Kansas City), Crennel has a dismal record of 28-55. Crennel played a huge role as to why the Chiefs were so ineffective offensively last season. On average, the Chiefs were outscored by 12 points per game last season, putting their offense dead last in the league.
Coming into this season, many Chiefs fans would have been content with having an average team. Well, fortunately for them, it hasn’t turned out that way. Instead, the Chiefs are one of the best teams in football. When Andy Reid came on board as the head coach, the offense almost instantly improved. In his 30 years of coaching, Coach Reid has always had a good offense. Shortly after the signing of Andy Reid, the Chiefs went out and traded for quarterback Alex Smith. Smith, isn’t exactly the best quarterback in terms of arm strength or accuracy. However, there are a couple of things that Smith does just about as good as anyone else; number one, manage a game and number two, win. Over the course of the past few years, Smith has really exerted himself as a top flight quarterback in this league. Unlike Cassel and Quinn, Alex Smith is very good with the football. He rarely turns the ball over and with a record of 23-5-1 since 2011, Smith brought something to the Chiefs that they desperately needed, stability.
Not only did the Chiefs tremendously upgrade their offense by adding Smith but they also added solid players on the defensive side of the ball. With the signing of corner backs such as Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, the Chiefs were able to bolster their secondary which already had Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers.
This was a team that had a ton of talent last season. And even with a poor record, they weren’t as bad as people thought they were. The only things that held them back was the instability at the quarterback position and poor coaching. The Chiefs front office did a tremendous job filling both of those holes this past offseason. The addition of Alex Smith has allowed other offensive players such as Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles get more integrated within the offense, which in turn increases their production. Much like Smith, Sean Smith and Robinson have helped transformed this secondary into one of the best in the league.
Another issue was coaching. Compared to Romeo Crennel, Andy Reid is like Vince Lombardi. In his 13 seasons as the Eagles head coach, Reid posted a record of 144-102-1. A winning coach was something that was desperately needed in Kansas City. But despite all the credit being given to Reid, it isn’t just him. Defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, has done an absolutely phenomenal job with this defense. They have really put an emphasis on creating turnovers and applying pressure to the quarterback. Last season, they only had seven interceptions and 27 sacks. Through four games this season, the Chiefs have already intercepted the ball five times, while recording 18 sacks.
So is it really such a huge surprise that the Chiefs are as good as they are? They weren’t exactly bad last season, they just had a two flaws. The Chiefs front office really did a great job this past offseason at filling those needs. The addition of Reid and Smith has really helped put this team over. The future is without a doubt looking bright in Kansas City.
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