Flanagan: Time is now for Chiefs' offense to open it up
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Five observations on the current state of the Chiefs.
TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
OK, we're pounding this subject to death, but the fact remains that the Chiefs, to compete with Denver and any other playoff team, simply must find a way to get more offensive production.
Coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson are doing all they can to protect quarterback Alex Smith from criticism, but the truth is, Smith will have to take a few more chances if the Chiefs are to have any success moving forward.
And that may mean a turnover or two more, but it is worth the gamble.
Consider this stat: In the entire NFL, only two teams have scored fewer offensive touchdowns than the Chiefs, who have just 18. The Jets have 15 and the lowly Jags have 11.
Not great company.
When asked if Smith indeed needed to take more chances downfield rather than check down, Pederson again defended his quarterback (as you would expect).
"Again, you don't want to put those thoughts into your quarterback's head, you know what I'm saying?" Pederson said. "You can't say, 'You've got to do this; you've got to do that.' It handcuffs the quarterback.
"You still have to go and just execute the play, execute the offense, be patient with the offense. When the opportunity presents itself, then you take advantage of it, you pull the trigger and shoot the ball down the field."
But the Chiefs seem content, game after game, letting the defense do the dirty work. And to be fair, that formula has produced a 9-1 record and more excitement in Kansas City than we've seen in years. No complaints whatsoever there.
But the goals have changed. Yes, this is a thrilling turnaround from a 2-14 team. But now that we're teased, we have to wonder just how deep into the playoffs the Chiefs can go with a pedestrian offense and a superb defense.
Pederson thinks it's possible.
"I would like to say yes," he said. "You look at the history and some of the great defenses with teams that have won the Super Bowl."
Hey, I hope he's right. But last Sunday night provided evidence that the Chiefs' defense may not be great enough to carry the offense.
CHANCE AT HISTORY
Don't think kicker Ryan Succop didn't know he had a chance at immortality at the end of the first half Sunday when the Chiefs were in a position to kick a 64-yard field goal, which would have put him in the record books.
"Oh, yeah, I did the math pretty quick as I saw where the ball was lined up," Succop told me Friday. "I was thinking this was divine intervention -- if you're ever going to get a chance at the record, kicking there in the altitude, that was it.
"But I understand why we didn't. I mean, if I don't get all of it, and it comes up short, and they start running it back, we got eight offensive linemen trying to chase down a speedy guy. Not good."
TOUGH BREAK FOR WILLIAMS
Wide receiver Kyle Williams wasn't even here two weeks and already he is gone for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Coach Andy Reid told us that Williams, whom the Chiefs claimed off waivers last week, was practicing Thursday, tweaked the knee, and then continued to practice. Later Williams found out that he had torn the ACL. It is the same ligament in the same knee that he injured last year, ending his season early.
"It's such a tough break because the kid worked so hard on building that knee back up so he could play," Reid said.
It's a tough break for the Chiefs, too, who were hoping Williams would eventually become a weapon on special teams and for the offense, which is sorely lacking playmakers.
The Chiefs have five players -- Jamaal Charles, Branden Albert, Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali and Dustin Colquitt -- who are leading Pro Bowl voting at their respective positions.
And guard Jeff Allen is actually second in the voting at guard. But I don't think he's impressed.
"No, I really could (not) care less about that right now," he said. "I'm really focused on San Diego and getting this win, getting this bitter taste out of my mouth."
The forecast for Sunday's game at Arrowhead calls for a high of only 34 degrees.
But you won't see Chiefs offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz out there with bare arms trying to be macho.
"I'm a big fan of sleeves and thermal tights," he said. "I don't think it makes any less of a player. You see a lot of guys now and they're wearing sleeves when it's hot. I think that's more of an old-school thing. Last game I wore my thermal tights and I wore them the game before that. I don't like being cold. I have no shame in that."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at email@example.com.