The Kansas City Chiefs had gone their first nine games undefeated, essentially driven by their top-ranked defense, until Sunday when they lost 27-17 in Denver to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who are currently sporting the NFL‘s top-ranked offense. Though the Kansas City defense machine managed to keep Denver well below their 41.2 P/PG average, they couldn’t do it all themselves, and the Chiefs, particularly the offense, showed some definite chinks in their armor.
Up next for the Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers. Will Kansas City be able to continue their winning streak of keeping their opposing teams’ scores beneath 17 points? And what about the following Sunday when the Chiefs meet the Broncos again, this time in Kansas City at Arrowhead?
As well as the Chiefs did in managing the Broncos’ scoring tightly, they still made a weak showing and will need to up their offensive game considerably if they are serious about the playoffs, the AFC West division title, or better yet, the Super Bowl.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has trusted quarterback Alex Smith so far, and Smith has delivered, for the first nine games, anyway. However, he’ll have to deliver more, and deliver it more consistently.
Certainly, the Kansas City defense will still be a heavily relied upon resource in regard to winning games, but it’s difficult enough doing well in the playoffs, let alone doing so with either an offense or defense that is huffing and puffing along behind the rest of the squad.
The Chiefs have six games remaining in the regular season, and they can improve if they stay focused. For starters, Smith needs to be less conservative with the passing and open up the throttle on his throwing arm.
In the game against Denver, passes were botched to wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery, and to tight end Sean McGrath, but that had less to do with Smith’s throwing arm than with other factors.
He doesn’t need to get crazy with vertical, deep passes, but he needs to start throwing more of them. He’s been incredibly risk-averse this season, tossing mostly short, shallow passes, and ironically, he has a much better, much more accurate arm than the one he’s used so far. And he did use more vertical passes against the Broncos than previously this season, so it looks like he’s starting to stretch himself a bit.
Smith and the Chiefs probably realize they need to use more high and deep throws, or at least more intermediate throws. It will certainly help if the offense creates more opportunities for him to do so, rather than rely so heavily on Jamaal Charles.
Smith is certainly capable of getting the ball where it needs to go. Go high and go long, boys.