Chief Takeaways: Lessons From The Turnaround

There were a few people who expected the Kansas City Chiefs to turn things around. I’ll freely admit I wasn’t one of them. At this point, I’m really not sure what to expect from them. Can they continue this level of play and become Super Bowl contenders again? Maybe. Are the last two games indicative of a true turn-around, or just an example of Reid being really good at division games? It’s hard to say. While there’s a lot that we don’t know, certain facts have been made obvious over the course of Chiefs last couple games. Lessons that Reid and company need to take to heart for this year and beyond. Here’s what, I believe, they learned.

#1. Well, Keep it Simple Stupid:

The Chiefs running game began the year as one of the most dynamic in the NFL. Then, it fizzled out overnight. Now all of a sudden it’s back. What happened? Did Chiefs use exotic motion to set things up? Are they scheming really clever blocking combinations to spring Hunt for big gains? Nope. They’re running the same basic zone runs over and over. Kansas City is doing what fans have long wished they would do. Instead of trying to out-think the opponent, they’re doing what they do best: daring the defense to stop them. Complex plays are great for installing in the off-season, but when you have to make adjustments in season, then keep it simple. Execution is always more important than scheme.

#2. Don’t Underestimate the Value

of Albert Wilson:

Few of us really understood what Wilson means to this team, until he went out with an injury. He may not have the greatest hands, or be much of red zone threat, but Wilson runs fantastic routes and blocks like a boss in the run game. The Chiefs offense has some absolutely brutal route combos, but they only work when your 3rd WR runs his route to the exact right spot. Wilson does this consistently, and has shown good enough hands, this year, to make teams pay if they don’t play the right coverage. Wilson will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Last year most of us would have said, “good riddance.” This year, I think most of us will be surprised if he doesn’t get re-signed. Wilson may not be one of the big three, but he’s an integral part of this offense, and the Chiefs are far better with him than without him.

#3. Attitude is Everything… Everything:

What was the difference between the Marcus Peters who forced three turnovers in one game and the Peters who forced fans to pull their hair out when he wouldn’t tackle? Attitude. What makes a pass rush go from bad to good? Attitude. What turns a losing streak into a winning streak? Attitude. What is the core identity of a player friendly team whose motto is family? Attitude. Why is Eric Berry the most important player on Chiefs roster? Attitude. What changes an OL from a sieve to brick wall? Attitude. Change your attitude… and change the game. This is a lesson Chiefs players should never forget and the main reason they’ve never tried to replace Charcandrick West. He may not ever be an elite RB, but his heart and his smile lift other players on a consistent basis. Attitude makes this team tick, it’s their championship formula, as long as they stick to it.

#4. Reid is Good Head Coach…

When He Acts Like One:

A head coach doesn’t need to be a great play-caller, he doesn’t need a phenomenal defensive mind. A great head coach needs to do two things: identify talent, and maximize it. Reid was able to identify Nagy’s talent this year and had the humility to let Nagy call the plays. That decision seems to have paid off big time for the Chiefs. The underrated part of the Nagy move, is that it has allowed Reid to be much more involved with other aspects of the game. Where Reid has ordinarily left Sutton alone, he’s become much more vocal, with Nagy calling plays. In the absence of one responsibility, Reid has been able to take on others. Don’t underestimate Reid’s role in the defensive turn-around. Bob Sutton is a pretty milk toast guy and the massive boost in enthusiasm didn’t come from him. Sutton calls some good schemes, but Reid’s influence in challenging Sutton and motivating his players, is an undervalued part of the freedom he gained, by giving up play calling. Reid has always been able to build a solid coaching staff. Now, he has more time to maximize their talents. That’s huge for the Chiefs on game day.

#5. The Red Zone Offense Needs Work:

We’ve seen some progress in recent weeks, but the Chiefs are still turning entirely too many touchdown drives, into field-goal drives. They seem to have figured out that you need to throw the ball into the end zone, but, for some reason, they’re still targeting Demetrius Harris there. What‘s more, the outside zone runs, that make the offense great from 20 to 20, are not viable options in the red zone, and they don’t seem to run the ball with consistency up the middle. K.C. has had some success with Smith throwing to Hunt on roll-outs, but I think they still need to get back to red zone basics. Put big WRs in and throw it to them. Reid and Nagy need to get Chesson into the mix with goal to go. They could probably stand to get another big WR too, maybe Marcus Kemp off the practice squad.

No one knows for sure what the Chiefs will do next. It seems likely that they beat Miami and then play back-ups against Denver. Regardless of the final record, we won’t know much about this team until they get to the playoffs. With the Chiefs likely to lose a coach or two to other teams next year, Reid needs to take the lessons he learned from the turn-around to heart. Hopefully, when Nagy leaves, Reid can find another OC he trusts enough to call plays. In the meantime, sit back relax, and enjoy the rest of the season. Go Chiefs.

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Ransom Hawthorne

Ransom Hawthorne

Ransom Hawthorne is an electrician living in central KS. He's married and has two young boys. Born in KS, and raised in Tucson, Ransom spent his middle school years in southern Mexico.
Ransom Hawthorne

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  • larry mckinney

    As good an analysis of our lads as can be found anywhere. Many, many kudos to you Hawthorne. Long may you Chop.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Thanks. 🙂

  • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

    I believe Wilson getting re signed will lie entirely on how much he feels he is worth, if he feels he is worth #2 kind of money, they will let him walk………I think the Chiefs want him back, but whether they agree on terms will come down to Wilson and his agent.
    The Chiefs will agree to a modest deal imho.

    • tm1946

      More a question of being the big frog in a puddle or bass bait in a lake. He fits here with this team as the current roster stands. Next, money, unless some guys take cuts or move on – very limited cash left to spread around. Just starting to appreciate his contributions…. would hate to lose him so soon.

      • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

        I am beginning to like Wilson, but we better hope we are never in the position of him being the big frog in our puddle….lol
        He is a gadget guy that has become an asset to our offense……but I guarantee you he would fade away fast anywhere else but this system.
        He isn’t talented enough…….big heart, I will give him that, just not busting out with talent.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      I think 4m a year is money well spent on Wilson, much more than that, and you start to wonder if it’s worth it.

  • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

    Peters had a great game, I’m not knocking him in any way shape or form……but, the difference between last weeks Peters and the previous Peters was Philip Rivers.
    Rivers missed his targets so bad that his receivers didn’t even have a chance to fight for the ball………lots of under thrown balls.

    • berttheclock

      But, but, but, Rivers is a Pro Bowler.

      Roll Blue Tide

      • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

        Smith got jobbed on that decision….. another example of how a really great quarterback is under appreciated.
        I hope for Smith sake, that he goes somewhere and is truly appreciated for the quarterback he is, I don’t think he ever receive that here.
        I will be rooting for him.

        • Ol’ KR

          Unless he goes to donksville

    • PaulFromNorthMo

      But isn’t that how most interceptions happen, poorly thrown balls. Peters tracking skill are top notch, maybe even better than Hills, plus he keeps his eyes on the QB. Peters second pick wasn’t even thrown to his guy, he just reacted so fast to the pass he was running the opposite way with the ball before anyone else on the field knew what happened.

      • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

        For sure, I agree, that’s why I said he had a great game, the guy is one of the best at taking advantage of mistakes by quarterbacks.

        • PaulFromNorthMo

          Having the ball thrown to his side of the field didn’t hurt!!

    • Chiefly Bacon

      I don’t have any proof of this, but I suspect that Chiefs know Chargers routes as well as their WRs do. Peters knows where Rivers is gonna throw it before he does. Ron Parker mentioned that, on one of Peters’ interceptions, Peters wasn’t even responsible for covering that guy, fell off his WR when he figured out that Rivers was gonna throw to Parker’s guy.

      • PaulFromNorthMo

        And if Peters is good enough to do that, we sure don’t need to be trading him away.

  • tm1946

    For the holiday season…. sure seems a lot of meanness written on this article….and more truth than fans or the Chiefs will probably accept.

    Me? Bad mouthed A. Wilson to much. When this offense is hitting on all cylinders, a goodly share is his efforts… got to work on that (me, not him).

    Reid – if anyone could email him this and shove it in his Christmas stocking, would appreciate it. Not my guy but if he could just adjust what he has been doing for over 17 years… sky would be the limit, IMO.

    Rest were good points but I can only absorb so much… someone else can step up and take a swing.

    Good read.

    • berttheclock

      Used to be a joke at Dee’s Bar whenever Wilson would do something right. I would yell, “But, I cut him”. Yes, I tried to cut him many times, but, this season, he, finally, has played with his head on very straight and has become an important element of the offense, in running out routes, in adjusting to the ball, in blocking and in being very effective as a decoy on misdirection plays.

      BTW, I cut Harris often, also. Now, whether or not he should remain with this team is another question.

      Roll Blue Tide.

    • This item I simply cannot agree with. Bert knows the route tree, intricately. OTOH? Last year he quit on routes, didn’t hustle, didn’t make himself available for throws on a Smith Scramble. In short? This is his contract year. I see no reason to keep him. I agree with the fact that this season he is doing what he should do and it is meaningful. That said? If not too much money, I would keep him as a #4 WR. But Conley will be back, Robinson continues to improve, Chesson is out there and we have Hill. Where I can see Wilson, is using his speed in conjunction with Hill. He does have speed… that should clear the underneath if both Hill and Wilson go deep enough and both can be a threat that way, which would give you a Kelce 1 on 1 with a LB etc. Nah, bad mouthing Wilson last year was appropriate criticism in 2016. What usually happens is the next year, if given a contract, his production will fall off. I think we go with tall, fast, powerful guys because we have Hill and there will be 1 more year of Conley, Robinson and now Chesson developing. — that’s my take on that one.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Thanks.

  • ladner morse

    Excellent piece Ransom. I love reading your stuff!

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Thanks.

  • berttheclock

    As to “Reid has always been able to assemble a good solid coaching staff”, may I suggest you go back in time and review how Reid threw Juan Castillo, his great offensive line coach, under the bus by moving him to DC which really hurt the career of Castillo. Castillo resented the move so much he refused to come to KC with Reid. So, Reid had to hire Heck from the Jags. Plus, look at how quickly Reid hired Greg Lewis, the so-called wide out coach who had been fired by Philly for not being able to develop Algohor and others. What has Lewis proven with the Chiefs except for continuing to bad mouth Seantavious Jones, of whom he had ridiculed with the Eagles?

    Be all of that as it may, but, I will be be changing my long held moniker. The new one which will come up in a few days will be “Roll Blue Tide”. You figure it out.

    • berttheclock

      BTW, Chung is doing an excellent offensive line coaching job with the Eagles at present. Far better than when he had to endure working under Heck.

      Roll Blue Tide

    • Chiefly Bacon

      No coach’s staff is perfect. Look around and the league and see how many head coaches used to be on Reid’s staff. You can cherry pick to make Reid look bad, but there’s a reason other teams keep calling for Chiefs’ coaches.

  • freshmeat62

    I too would like to see a big WR get some action.I haven’t noticed Chesson on any offensive plays. Wondering if it’s just because of the offense complexity? But the guy is johnny on the spot when it comes to covering punts. He’s almost always the first one down covering the receiver.

    • freshmeat62

      Chesson must be faster than was reported. I don’t remember what was reported, but it didn’t stick out as impressive, but the guy is always beating the ball to the punt receiver.

      • PaulFromNorthMo

        I think Kareem Hunt is also faster than advertised, and Conley is the opposite. Conley was supposed to be real fast but it just doesn’t seem to show.

        • berttheclock

          Conley ran the 3rd fastest time at the Combine. He had one of 4.41, then, blazed a 4.35.

          Roll Blue Tide

          • PaulFromNorthMo

            I remember the 4.35, it just doesn’t seem to show up on the field.

          • think route tree and which routes Conley gets. We have what I think is a good 1-2-3: Hill, Conley, Robinson. I think Chesson gets his routes in 2018. At least from what I have seen of Robinson, is good stuff. I think they need to call his primary route and get him the ball on those to freeze up the defense — so they can’t ignore him. Use him to hurt the lighter coverage in other words. I also want to see Chesson getting in, and getting a route that he can be successful with.

          • PaulFromNorthMo

            That’s kinda my question, if Conley can run a 4.35, it doesn’t seem to be utilized. We send Wilson on deep routes and with the exception of one great catch against the Raiders, he doesn’t track the ball that well. I’ve never seen Conley go deep.

      • berttheclock

        What set Chesson back in college and dropped him in the draft was a knee injury in 2015. He had to really work hard to get back into top shape. He ran two 40s at his Pro Day at Michigan. The first was 4.53, but, his second was 4.47. Now, a year later, it looks as though he has regained his speed prior to the knee injury.

        • freshmeat62

          I didn’t realize he had times that fast. He must have some moves also as he gets by the blockers on punts.

          • Chiefly Bacon

            You don’t play for Jim Harbaugh without picking up some STs skills.

      • xactly. 2018? Wilson can be superceded. I remain unconvinced that rewarding Bert with a contract due to Reid’s favor or knowing the route tree will continue to be a true value with the young guys moving up. His 2016 season really pissed me off.

        • PaulFromNorthMo

          I agree, I think Wilson’s most valuable because Smith is comfortable with him. Assuming Smith is not our QB in 2018, Wilsons value decreases.
          Now, if AS11 is here one more season, that changes things.

    • PaulFromNorthMo

      I doubt we see him in on offense. I don’t believe Smith will look to throw to guys he isn’t familiar with. That’s why DR14 doesn’t get targets and why Wilson and Harris do, even though they drop a lot.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Watching him play STs, he reminds me so much of Conely when he was a rookie.

    • Laurels and limitations

      Not sure how much I can buy in to the whole “offense complexity” thingy. Kelce, Hill, Hunt and several others have played significant snaps in their respective 1st years under Reid. If Chesson is not getting starter’s reps it because at this point he has not beaten out anyone in front of him for their spot, imho.

  • PaulFromNorthMo

    Good write up Ransom, our offense has been looking pretty good for three straight games now. Kinda hitting on 5 out of 6 cylinders, just sputtering out and bogging down in the red zone, and I agree, why we’re still using Harris is bordering on stupidiculous.
    If the offense keeps it up and the defense keeps playing the way they have these past two games, we should be able to watch our Chiefs play at least four more games, and here’s hoping for 6.

  • PaulFromNorthMo

    You mentioned our losing streak coinciding with Wilson missing time, but during that same time, wasn’t Sutton starting Gaines and Acker, instead of Mitchell, opposite Peters?
    I don’t think it’s coincidence that our pass D has improved with Revis and Mitchell playing instead of Acker and Gaines. Although I do recall Acker getting some garbage time snaps Saturday.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Defense was bad too, but offense was undeniably terrible for stretches, and seemed to get a lot better once Wilson got back.