The Chiefs have put together a nice season after last years debauchery. The success they have had, while not consistent at times has given Chiefs fans across the country a reason for optimism. With optimism comes higher expectations. Enter last week: Enter overeactions.
Bob Sutton had taken a defense that has largely underachieved over the past few seasons while showing flashes of greatness and turned it into an early season juggernaut during a 9-0 start that left apposing quarterbacks strewn about in its path. Then Mike DeVito and Justin Houston got hurt, Dontari Poe started to wear down and....well you know, things went south after playing some really good teams. The truth here is that its the first year he has been here and losing a couple good players, especially one who might be the best player on your team not names Jamaal Charles, is going to affect your performance on the field. He's not getting fired. This is an overall improvement on defense that needs to be tweaked for continued success.
The whole crossing route thing has caused quite an uproar as well. The truth on this topic is that the game has changed. Whats the best way to stop the previously unstoppable approach of bombing the ball all over the field and rarely running the ball? Press coverage and hit the quarterback. Ask Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and Tony Romo about how things are going for them lately. So now the best offenses take advantage of rule changes that favor the offense. Pick defensive players. Block them early. Run crossing routes that use scheme and finesse to neutralize physicality. No call...touchdown Peyton Manning to Eric Decker...you get the idea. The Chiefs have fallen victim to many a crossing route (some of them on illegal pick plays) but giving up the deep ball while having to compensate for the former has been a bigger issue. Bad angles by safeties and blown coverages are to blame but the bigger picture on film will show defensive backs who simply are not used to covering receivers deep down the field when the defense is getting pressure and is ticking. The Chiefs were forced to change just when things were going their way. It hasn't been easy and its still a work in progress.
Some stats lie. The truth here is that PFF ratings and other similar nerdery is being accepted more than Discover cards lately. Heres where many people are wrong: Brandon Flowers didn't suddenly forget how to shut down a wide receiver. One year ago everyone on AP universally accepted him as a true shutdown corner at extremely high value for the Chiefs. He made DeSean Jackson, one of the leagues most explosive weapons, a non factor in a huge game on primetime television. We've seen it before. Enter Marcus Cooper. Coop made some people believe he was so good that Flowers became disposable. What if we moved B-Flo to the slot and then we have all these great corners on the field (don't get me started on people suggesting a trade for draft picks)...How many elite corners would be asked to do this? Aren't shutdown corners supposed to take away the offenses best weapon? Cooper eventually showed some soft spots and the secondary has struggled against top competition. Flowers different role on the defense has more to do with this than meets the eye. A secondary's performance is organic. Each piece affects another on any given play. There is clearly an issue of some players trying to do too much and ending up out of position. There are issues that can't be quantified by PFF or any other resource, but in the fantasy football age, thats a hard truth to swallow. (Dude I pay $xxxx a month to get these stats, that pretty much makes them stone tablets)
The quarterback thing. Ugh.... Chiefs fans. So obsessed with the drafting a quarterback thing...and why shouldn't they be. Its been a long hard road out of hell for the most part. The truth here is that Alex Smith is the right guy, right now. Its safe to say that even after a bad performance, fans are starting to appreciate Smiths abilities as the Chiefs offense improves and shows different facets and wrinkles along the way. The Chiefs won 2 games a year ago. I don't care what your schedule looks like, nobody wins 9 games in a row in the NFL on accident. The 2 biggest reasons the Chiefs have won 11 are Andy Reid and his hand picked signal caller Alex Smith. Smith has brought a steady hand to the Chiefs and a confidence and toughness they needed badly on offense. Being initially prone to a conservative style early in the season to keep the Chiefs from beating themselves, he has made plays every week that contribute to success in a big way. He has won in the playoffs and can win with this team, this year. The Chiefs are suddenly a dangerous force on the road in the playoffs and Smith brings that attitude that makes all the difference. Take emotion out of it and look at it objectively. #11 is the right fit right now. I feel safe saying the Chiefs can do it, but WILL they? We will find out.
I suppose I could think of more truths but its time to put Santa's gifts under the tree. Go Chiefs!