Sunday saw the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs take a loss for the first time this season, losing 17-27 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Denver. This should be a wake-up call for the Chiefs. They have six games left in the regular NFL season, and they also have the opportunity to do much better than they did against the Broncos. They will face off against another division rival, the San Diego Chargers, on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, and the following Sunday will meet the Broncos again, also at Arrowhead.
Much has been said and made of the fact that the Chiefs had an easy schedule this year, and how they’re not really that good, how they’ve relied on the defense and too heavily on running back Jamaal Charles, etc. Their loss to the Broncos Sunday doesn’t define them, and doesn’t validate all of the criticisms. They haven’t necessarily been “exposed,” as some have claimed.
Consider the fact that the Chiefs’ inconsistency may have more to do with underutilized resources. Like wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, for instance.
There is still room for improvement, however, and fortunately for the Chiefs, they still have time to correct and move forward, starting with the Chargers.
Kansas City did manage the Broncos’ scoring effectively, keeping them well beneath their 41.2 points per game average, but still had a shaky showing, at best. They will need to tighten things up and refocus, especially their offensive game, if they really want the AFC West division title; and also if they want to have a good showing in the playoffs, and ultimately, in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has been a super-conservative quarterback throughout his career, especially this season. The crazy thing is, no one knows why, exactly. He has a good arm, and can fire downfield with the best of them. With more support from his offensive players, they can really get the ball moving, and take much of the pressure off of Charles, who has essentially carried much of the offense this season.
In the game against Denver, potentially lethal passes were thrown to wide receivers Bowe and Donnie Avery, and to tight end Sean McGrath at different points. They didn’t connect for one reason or another, but that wasn’t Smith’s fault. He showed again that he has an effective passing game.
Smith has, however, seemed reluctant to throw to wide receivers who are being closely covered, and that is a prudent decision in avoiding turnovers. In the case of Bowe, Smith might want to consider taking some more chances, because of Bowe’s large build, good hands and overall athletic prowess.
Bowe doesn’t perform much magic with his route running and he isn’t very fast at all, but he uses his size to his advantage. Bowe’s touchdown grab in the game against the Broncos is a perfect case-in-point of the kind of excellence he is capable of.
The last time Kansas City saw the playoffs was in 2010 and Bowe was sporting 1,162 receiving yards, 72 receptions and 15 touchdowns. As of now, for this season, he is currently heading toward only 59 receptions for 682 yards and five touchdowns — that will have to improve drastically.
Bowe needs to pick up his game quite a bit, but he needs Smith to trust him and give him more of those opportunities, rather than falling back and relying on Charles so much.
Smith needs to realize that Bowe is his ace up the sleeve, especially for third downs, as Bowe is effectively evasive on the field and in many ways shuns being covered closely, and he does that well.
More of a Smith-Bowe connection could really help the Chiefs up their offensive game in time for the looming playoffs.