Any shred of success the Kansas City Chiefs experienced in 2012, and there wasn’t much, was due to their defense. The Kansas City defense sent four players to the Pro Bowl and was actually quite impressive. The biggest problem the Chiefs had on defense was that their offense couldn’t stay on the field for very long, putting too much pressure on the defense to carry the team. If the Chiefs expect to turn things around in 2013 and compete for a playoff spot, the pressure is on the team’s offense to give the defense a lot more support than they did a year ago.
The Chiefs took two big steps towards improving their offense early this offseason by naming Andy Reid their head coach and trading for Alex Smith to be their quarterback. Reid has a keen offensive mind and is an experienced and proven play caller while Smith is a veteran quarterback who has proven he can win with the right pieces around him. Drafting Eric Fisher first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft should bolster the offensive line as well, but it’s going to take more than Reid, Smith, and Fisher to turn around the Kansas City offense.
The Chiefs have only two reliable skill players entering the season: running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Charles carried much of the offense last year in a Pro Bowl season, but it may be asking too much to expect him to repeat that production again this season. In addition, the Chiefs don’t have another running back on the roster that they can depend upon. They drafted Knile Davis in the third round hoping that he could help right away, but Davis hasn’t had a productive season in college since 2010, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be a productive backup to Charles.
Bowe was held back last season by ineffective quarterback play, and he should be more successful with Smith throwing the ball to him. But the Chiefs need more receiving threats than just Bowe, and Reid has said that he would like to get Dexter McCluster more involved offensively while the addition of Donnie Avery should help as well. Also, the combination of Tony Moeaki and rookie Travis Kelce should give Kansas City good options at tight end, but the Chiefs need more threats on the outside to have a more potent passing attack. Kansas City didn’t draft any wide receivers this year, so they must rely on Jon Baldwin and several other young players to step up and become reliable receiving targets.
The presence of Reid and Smith in Kansas City should help the Chiefs on offense, but only if there are enough playmakers for Reid and Smith to utilize. Charles and Bowe will do what they can, but the Chiefs are going to need help from other players. It’s with those other players that this season rests because the Chiefs will be solid on defense. The pressure is on the offense to be better, and that requires the ancillary skill players being better. It’s that group of players that will determine how good the Chiefs are in 2013.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.