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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