Andy blames himself, not Alex, for Chiefs’ sputtering offense
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When you’re 6-0 and coming off a 2-14 season, there really shouldn’t be any complaining.
There can’t be a football fan or scout or executive anywhere on the planet who could have forecast the amazing turnaround general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid have conducted with the Chiefs — certainly not to the extent of a 6-0 start.
But — and isn’t there always a but? — there is one small area of concern that even Reid himself continues to address: a sluggish offense.
The Chiefs are 25th in the NFL in offense, chugging along at just 326 yards per game, a remarkably low figure for a team unbeaten this far into the season.
No one is more aware of the offense’s struggles than Reid. The offense is his baby.
“Listen, I’m never going to make excuses,” Reid said Monday. “That’s not how we roll here. But the reality of it is we’re a little young, but we have to get better.
“I see some phases we’re getting better at. But I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys in the right position to succeed. We’ve all got a little piece of the pie to get things right. We’re learning on the fly, but we’re going to get better.”
The Chiefs likely will have to. Fans in this area have seen this script before. They’ve seen the Chiefs’ teams of the 1990s soar through the regular season on the strength of their overpowering defenses and elite special teams.
Then those fans saw the same teams misfire in the postseason, mainly because the offense couldn’t step up and contribute when it had to.
To avoid revisiting that script, the Chiefs must get more production out of quarterback Alex Smith, whose numbers keep sinking.
Smith is 26th in the league in passing yards at just 221.7 per game. He’s also 20th in the league with a passer rating of 79.8.
But if you’re looking for Reid to point any fingers toward Smith, you’ll have a long wait.
Reid knows what kind of team he has. He knows, outside of Jamaal Charles and at times Dwayne Bowe, he doesn’t have an explosive offense.
Reid also knows you can win in this league simply by not messing up, and letting the opponent beat itself. The Chiefs are No. 1 in the league in turnover ratio at plus-12, and don’t have the appearance of a team that will beat itself anytime soon.
“Not turning the ball over is very important to us,” Reid said, “especially when you have a solid defense like we have and the kicking game we have, both from our punter and our kicker.”
In that respect, Smith is giving Reid all he needs, even if the offense has that familiar conservative look of the ’90s. After all, there is a fine line between wanting more offensive production, and opening the offense up so much that more turnovers occur. Reid isn’t likely to stand for that.
“You want to always start off by protecting the ball,” Reid said. “There’s no fine line there for me. …
“Alex is doing that. And we need to point out the way Alex continues to manage this offense.”
And that is the key in Reid’s mind: He simply wants Smith to manage the game, which also includes managing the different personalities in the huddle.
“We’ve got a guy at quarterback, this kid, he’s a stud,” Reid said. “The things he does for this team is unbelievable. He’s making people around him better. He takes the blame for things — that’s what good leaders do.
“At the same time, he’s able to teach and explain to other guys with a clear head. Those are valuable things for us as coaches to see. I’m very pleased with the job (Smith) is doing.”
In Reid’s mind, let the other quarterbacks around the league possess the pretty passing numbers; Reid will take the ultimate one that counts. That is, for now, 6-0.
Still, Reid also has been around long enough to know that his offense will have to improve as the season wears on, even if it’s just incrementally.
And that will be up to Reid himself as the play-caller and architect of the offense, something Reid has mentioned almost every week.
“I think we have done some good things, but we have plenty to work on,” Reid said. “I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of putting guys in position to make plays. That has been obvious at times. I have to do a better job.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email email@example.com.