The Chiefs are one of three remaining undefeated teams. Predictably, this success has bred a lot of skepticism. How good is the offense? How far can the offense take this team? Why can't Alex Smith connect with Dwayne Bowe?
We should all be asking questions of this nature. It does not take a slew of advanced statistics to tell you that the offense needs to play better. The Chiefs are, and this should be no revelation, very clearly the worst of the three unbeaten teams. They have (probably) the best defense and unquestionably the worst offense.
But remember the questions we were asking when the season started?
Can Smith sustain the success he had in 2011-12 without Harbaugh?
Does Reid have anything left in the tank?
Will Reid still blow games in the 4th quarter with stupid game management and timeout calling?
Will Smith develop the chemistry he had with V. Davis, with Dwayne Bowe?
Can Smith throw deep more?
Now, haven't the most important of these questions already been answered in the positive?
Through five weeks, Reid has showed us not only that he has a lot left in the tank, but also that Marty Morninwheg was at least partially responsible for some of the stupid time management decisions. The Chiefs have utterly dominated the 4th quarter this year. Reid has only started a season 5-0 once before. His Eagles, last year, were last in the league in turnover differential (ironically, tied with the Chiefs). The 2013 Chiefs are, as of now, 1st in the league in turnover differential. Reid went from coaching the most turnover-prone team in football, to inheriting the personnel of the other most turnover-prone team in football, to completely turning them over. Simply amazing.
Through five weeks, Smith has shown us he can keep winning without Jim Harbaugh. His attempts have gone from around 22 a game with Harbaugh to around 33 with Reid, yet he has found a way to keep winning and keep the ball out of the defenses hands. Smith has thrown 8 passes farther than 15 yards downfield in each of the last two games (9 of 16 257 yds); the most he threw in any game under Harbaugh was 6. Smith never led a 5, or even 4 game winning streak under Harbaugh.
These were the BIG, overbearing questions about the Chiefs this year that had serious implications for the future. After all, noone expected the Chiefs to be 5-0. This team was being built for long-term success, no one expected it immediately.
What are the problems that remain? There are, after all, still many.
Poor play on the offensive line, both in pass and run blocking. Offensive Penalties. Drops by wide receivers. Inconsistent QB play. Mental errors. And, the one we all should have expected, lack of consistency from the offensive unit as a whole. If you watched only the first drive of each game along with the 4th quarter, the Chiefs would have an elite offense. They simply cannot put 60 minutes, or even two consecutive drives, together.
But, think about how you felt before Week 1, with a new QB, a new HC, a new GM, and a new offensive system. If someone had asked you, "Would you be surprised if the offense still isn't clicking after five weeks?" would you have really said "yes?"
It is not surprising that the Chiefs are still struggling to get it together on the offensive side of the ball. You know what is surprising? The fact that a 5-0 team is still struggling to get it together on the offensive side of the ball.
You have to separate the two thoughts. Despite the record, this is still the same Chiefs franchise that had dramatic turnover at every one of the most important positions. The same Chiefs that finished 2-14 last year.
It would be a superhuman feat of miraculous proportions for either Smith or Reid to accomplish some of the expectations that come with being a 5-0 team after only 5 games of being together. Especially when that 5-0 team happens to be a franchise that had just suffered through one of their worst seasons in history.
Take a step back, and think about what we have learned about the offense.
Andy Reid isn't burnt out. (Honestly, this list could end here)
He can adapt. He hired outside of his own staff, with the brilliant additions of Dave Toub and Bob Sutton. He switched from his beloved 4-3 to the 3-4. He kept much of the talented personnel in place and built around them, rather than imposing his own ways on the team. He has proven he can win again. He has proven he can still be a head coach, and he is doing it at a level he has not displayed in a while.
Alex Smith's success wasn't tied solely to Jim Harbaugh. (Another doozy)
He can adapt. His attempts per game and deep attempts per game have gone up, yet he has continued playing mistake free and winning football. His numbers may have dropped off from last year, but last year was his second year in Harbaugh's system. I don't think anyone would argue he has reverted back to his 2010, or 2006, self.
There were legitimate questions about Reid's future as a Head Coach and Smith's future as a Franchise Quarterback. If the Chiefs were 0-5 right now, and Smith was throwing interceptions while dancing happy feet and Reid was calling timeouts while trying to squash a bug with the tip of his middle finger, it would not be some grand surprise. There would be a good number of people around to stand up and say "Told 'ya so." And not even the kool-aid drinkers could have hoped for, what has become, the greatest start after a 14 loss season in NFL history.
Will Dorsey, Reid & Smith still be together 5 years from now? I don't know, but I do know that, through 5 weeks, there is little else you could have reasonably expected to see from them. Smith and Reid have both been put in completely new situations. They had both been with only one franchise for their entire careers at their position. Dorsey is a first time GM. It is rare to see such a combo now-a-days.
If they are still together in five years, this will be remembered as one of the great turnarounds of the modern era. When you take the individual stories of the Chiefs franchise, Reid's career in PHI, Smith's career in SF, put them in one place and pepper in the fact that Dorsey is from GB (connected to the 05 Smith/Rodgers draft & Reid's past), this has awesome story written all over it.
5 weeks in, 5 years away looks pretty good. That much I can say.