Photo: Justin Olson / Warpaint Illustrated
The Kansas City Chiefs certainly don’t make perfection look easy. In what has been the rule during their improbable 8-0 start, they continue to make it harder on themselves to win more comfortably. Is this a trend they can change in house or do they have to look elsewhere?
On Sunday, against the Cleveland Browns the Chiefs did what they had to do to remain the NFL’s only unbeaten franchise. With their 23-17 victory, they stay one game up on the Denver Broncos but that lead may shrink if KC’s offense can’t manage better results in the red zone.
I know I shouldn’t pile on Chiefs Quarterback, Alex Smith. Yes he threw a pair of touchdowns, completed 24 of 36 passes for a respectable 225 yards. But he continues to struggle throwing the deep ball down the sidelines.
BR>In the first quarter, he threw a poor pass to a wide open Anthony Fasano in the corner of the end zone. With the outcome still teetering and the Chiefs backed up near their goal line in the fourth quarter, Smith’s deep pass to wide receiver, Donnie Avery sailed over his head. Had he thrown the rock on the money, the Chiefs fastest receiver may have scored a touchdown.
Simply put the Chiefs offense is missing something. I’m not sure if the quarterback does not trust his receivers, the coaching staff doesn’t trust the quarterback or this team is waiting to add another offensive weapon before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
But if the Chiefs want to keep winning and put pressure on the Broncos, they need to shore up their down field passing game. That means being bold and acquiring either Atlanta Falcons Tight End Tony Gonzalez, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, (who torched the Chiefs secondary on Sunday) or Jacksonville Jaguars Receiver, Justin Blackmon.
I don’t care which player they get but the Chiefs current receiving group is struggling. Dwayne Bowe was nowhere to be found on Sunday. Even worse he was hardly double-teamed by Browns defenders on Sunday.
To date, Dexter McCluster has been the star of the offense the last two weeks but he’s a slot guy. At some point, the Chiefs can’t count on running back, Jamaal Charles to save the day. Nor can they just work the middle of the field with their tight ends.
If this offense is going to get into the 21st century vertically, they need an another threat that Smith can count on when he the middle of the field is clogged down with defenders.
But the offense isn’t alone in making me feel uneasy about the Chiefs lofty 8-0 record.
The defense has to shore up its secondary woes. For the second straight week, cornerback, Sean Smith, was beaten badly for long touchdowns. He’s less than physical style of play, poor closing speed and his reliance for safety help over the top, has already forced the Chiefs to adjust their secondary.
After Gordon torched the Chiefs in the second and third quarter; rookie Marcus Cooper shut him down the remainder of the game. Smith took on a lesser receiver and the results were better in the fourth quarter.
Even more perplexing was the fact the Chiefs rarely blitzed against Browns Quarterback, Jason Campbell. Defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, seemed intent on sitting back in passing situations instead of attacking another quarterback who had yet to start a game this season.
However, credit needs to be given to the Browns. They are anything but a bad football team. Their two-win season can be centered on the play of quarterback, Brandon Weeden, who simply isn’t a talented offensive performer. It’s clear the Browns have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. They probably should have beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead on Sunday
I know I should be jumping for joy because the Chiefs are 8-0 but this team won’t win next Sunday at Buffalo unless it shakes up their offense and goes back to their attacking style defense.
The Chiefs offense is built to be patient and then try to strike for a big play. So far it’s worked well. But it won’t work against the Broncos, Chargers and Colts in November and December.
Even though the Broncos defeated the Washington Redskins they too have their issues. They’re turning the ball over at an alarming rate in the red zone and against better competition; they too have their issues to iron out before their schedule turns tougher.
However, unlike the Chiefs, they can score points in the red zone.
So can the Chiefs fix it before they face Denver? It’s not going to be easy. Granted the Chiefs will have two weeks to prepare for the Broncos. But first they need to get past a pesky Buffalo Bills team that was embarrassed at home Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
The Chiefs may not realize it but this franchise is at a crossroads. They have to decide to move a draft pick or two in order to grab some offensive help or dance with the players who have worked incredibly hard since training camp. If they do stand pat, then Head Coach, Andy Reid, needs to solve the woes of its red zone offense with the deck he’s been dealt.
So what will Reid and General Manager, John Dorsey, do before Tuesday’s trade deadline? I have no idea but I don’t think standing pat is the answer to win the AFC West.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Should the Chiefs stand pat with their 53-man roster?
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