By Curt Macysyn
The Kansas City Chiefs have scuffled through the past 17 seasons; going through seven head coaches and seven different quarterbacks since 1996. During that time period, KC has made the playoffs only four times, after a successful string of six straight playoff appearances in the early 1990s under Marty Schottenheimer. KC has had a revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks for most of the past two decades.
Clearly the franchise was looking for stability, as well as a quick fix, and the team acted quickly to hire Andy Reid after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Then team owner, Clark Hunt, plucked his new general manager, John Dorsey, from the front office of the Green Bay Packers, hoping to create a “winning atmosphere” in western Missouri. So far the plan has worked, as Kansas City has started out with a 3-0 record for the first time since 2010, and just the eighth time in franchise history.
Previously, in the seven seasons where the Chiefs started out 3-0, they have made the playoffs in six of those seasons, so a fast start is clearly in KC’s favor.
West Coast Offense
If you are the Kansas City Chiefs, where would you look first for your starting quarterback? The answer is out west and the roster of the San Francisco 49ers. Alex Smith is the former number one overall draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers from the 2005 NFL draft, the same draft that produced Aaron Rodgers. Previously, the Chiefs acquired starting quarterbacks Joe Montana, Elvis Grbac and Steve Bono from the 49ers as well.
Smith lost his starting job in San Francisco to Colin Kaepernick, who took the gold and red to the Super Bowl last year. The eighth year signal caller from Utah can be described as a game manager, as he does not boast the strongest throwing arm. But Smith’s high football IQ meshes well with Andy Reid’s West Coast offensive philosophy. A case in point is the fact that KC has not committed a turnover in three games thus far, while the New York Giants have committed 13 turnovers in three contests. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown eight interceptions in three games, and the team has a (-9) turnover ratio. That number is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for dead last in the NFL, and coincidentally both the Steelers and Giants are 0-3.
While the Chiefs have not coughed up the football in three games, their defense has forced nine turnovers, giving them a (+9) turnover ratio, good for the NFL lead.
The Chiefs are perfectly suited for the West Coast offense. Reid’s offenses have relied upon a mobile quarterback and running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Alex Smith is second on the team in rushing with 114 yards. Meanwhile, running back Jamaal Charles has 224 yards on the ground and 18 catches in three games. Slot receiver Donnie Avery leads the team with 190 receiving yards
Big play receiver Dwayne Bowe has not gotten on the same page with Smith, with only one touchdown catch and less than 100 receiving yards. Bowe may be licking his chops about facing a Giants secondary that has given up seven touchdown catches in just three games.
Looking at the Kansas City defensive statistics, it is not difficult to see why the team is 3-0. Gaining notice throughout the league is linebacker Justin Houston. Houston has 7.5 sacks already this season, including 4.5 sacks in the team’s previous game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants gave up seven sacks to the Carolina Panthers in their last game, and the offensive line has been the focus of negative attention by media and fans alike after the game. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin will most likely try to see if his veterans can work their way into a groove, but he may be forced into changes, if the unit repeats its poor performance against the Chiefs.
While Houston gets the notoriety, the anchor of KC’s defense remains Derrick Johnson. The nine-year veteran from Texas has 21 tackles in three games, which leads the team. Cornerback Brandon Flowers has 17 career interceptions, while returning three for touchdowns. And play-making safety Eric Berry already has an interception return for a touchdown this season. Berry will be moved around the defensive scheme in order to find the opponent’s area of weakness.
The Chiefs number one draft pick, Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), starts at right tackle for KC. The Giants first round pick, Justin Pugh (Syracuse), starts at right tackle for the G-men. Fisher was the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, and Pugh was selected with the 18th pick.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.