KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Are these the new-look Chiefs? A once offensively challenged team now capable of lighting up the scoreboard?
Some evidence suggests that is the case.
After putting up five touchdowns and 38 points in a loss to San Diego eight days ago, the Chiefs’ offense came right back Sunday and put up 28 more points against Denver.
Granted, both offensive efforts were in a losing cause. But this newfound offensive firepower could serve the Chiefs well in January.
The Chiefs hit Denver with 452 yards of offense Sunday.
And while it looks like the Chiefs are opening up their attack, coach Andy Reid doesn’t believe he is being any more aggressive in his play-calling than he was two months ago.
“I don’t think so,” Reid said. “We’re just running the (same) offense and trying to stay aggressive. Am I more aggressive? I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.”
Instead, Reid points to the continued improvement of quarterback Alex Smith, who has thrown for 294 and 293 yards in back-to-back weeks. Those are his two highest passing yardage totals of the season.
“He’s gotten more familiar with his receivers, through practice, and knowing where they’re going to be,” Reid said. “He’s been able then to throw it in tighter spots. I just think he handles all the situations very well.”
That probably wasn’t the case earlier this season, when the offense struggled to move the ball. But as the Chiefs now come down the stretch, they know they have a quarterback on a roll.
That doesn’t mean Reid has suddenly discovered anything new about Smith.
“I don’t know that I’ve learned anything about him,” Reid said. “He’s a good football player. He’s a gutsy player, but I knew that.
“He handles this football team very well. He handles the offense. He’s gotten good at it.”
And accurate. Even with all the receiver drops in the last two weeks, Smith still is hitting 65 percent of his passes, many of them downfield.
Yes, there are still some glitches. Smith threw a bad interception against the Chargers in his own territory, and he took points off the board Sunday on the opening drive when he threw an end-zone pick on first-and-goal.
After the game, Smith was defiant about the mistake, saying it was a good decision to throw, but simply bad execution.
On Monday, Reid tended to agree. Sort of.
“The guy was open,” Reid said. “Alex just has to put it in the back of the end zone. He’s got to put it up and over. I think that’s what he meant.”
Reid did concede, though, that perhaps Smith should have thrown it away considering where Smith’s body position was.
“You can’t throw back across your body low like that, not down there,” Reid said.
But Reid continues to be Smith’s biggest supporter, and that faith appears to be paying off.
“Most of the offenses in this league go as their quarterback goes,” Reid said. “That’s fair to say. He’s handled the passing game part of it, has such a good feel for it. He knows when to pinpoint (the ball) and when to stay away from it. He handles that as well as anyone in the league.
“As far as confidence, I feel that the minute he walked into this building, the guys have had confidence in him, on both sides of the ball. The good quarterbacks in this league tend to make everyone around them better, on both sides of the ball. And you see that with us. There’s confidence he brings to the team.
“Does he have room to improve? Yes, sure. We all do.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.