From the FanPosts -Joel
The Kansas City Chiefs have started the season 3-0. It's the only the eighth time in franchise history that this has happened, and it is definitely a reason to feel good about the Chiefs. Whatever else may be true about this team, it now seems clear that it is capable of being competitive against any team in the NFL.
It's been a long time since Chiefs fans have been able to say that, and it's OK to be happy about it. It fact, after a 2-14 record last year, it's OK to even be a little delirious about it!
Before last night's victory, I knew that Andy Reid had been a very successful coach for the Eagles. I knew that in his 14 seasons there, he had taken the team to six division titles, five conference championships and even a Super Bowl. Chiefs fans have been thrilled that Clark Hunt has hired a coach with such a record of success.
But after seeing the banners celebrating those achievements hanging over Lincoln Financial Field while the Chiefs defense dominated - and the Chiefs offense struggled - a question began forming in my mind: is history repeating itself?
We've been here before, folks.
Marty Shottenheimer came to the Chiefs in 1989. After taking over the Cleveland Browns during the 1984 season, Marty had been to the playoffs in four straight seasons. He took the Browns to three division championships and two conference championship games during those years. Chiefs fans were thrilled that new GM Carl Peterson had hired a coach with such a record of success.
And that success continued. During his ten seasons as the Chiefs head coach, Marty took the Chiefs to the playoffs seven times, winning three division championships and appearing in a conference championship game.
But if you ask any Chiefs fan from those years about Marty Shottenheimer's stewardship of the team, one of the first words you're going to hear is "Martyball." During Marty's early years, the term had positive connotations. It referred to a dominating, suffocating, opportunistic defense coupled with a ball control offense based on rushing - one that only needed to put enough points on the board to win. But by the time Marty resigned following the 1998 season, the term had become negative - not because Shottenheimer had been unsuccessful, but because that success had never resulted in a championship.
Is any of this starting to sound familiar?
We all knew Andy Reid was going to bring a West Coast offensive philosophy to the Kansas City Chiefs. We suspected that with proper coaching, our existing talent could be molded into a good defense, too. After three games, we have discovered that we were right about the offense, and spectacularly right about the defense; the success of the Chiefs D is surpassing just about everybody's expectations.
With this defense, Andy Reid's West Coast offense has been good enough to win three games - against teams that I believe the season will reveal to be anywhere from bad to average - but the question remains: is it good enough to win against good teams through the playoffs?
In 1993, Marty Shottenheimer brought in Joe Montana, Paul Hackett and the West Coast offensive scheme to give the Chiefs what Marty called "chunks" of yardage - in addition to the very solid running game already in place. At the time, I gave Shottenheimer a lot of credit for looking past his own preconceived notions about an NFL offense, and the change did pay benefits - just not enough of them. On paper it looked great, but Marty failed to realize that the West Coast scheme depended not only on an efficient, intelligent quarterback, but also on quality receivers. Joe Montana made Chiefs wideouts and tight ends look better than they were, but they just weren't good enough.
Today, we have an efficient, intelligent quarterback, and plenty of talented wideouts and tight ends. So why isn't Andy Reid's West Coast offense working better?
It's because Andy Reid is the Anti-Marty.
His heart was in the running game, so Marty Shottenheimer didn't need anyone's encouragement to run the ball while he was operating a West Coast offense. But because Andy Reid has been brought up in the West Coast scheme, he believes that the key to success lies in substituting most of the running game for short, accurate passes. This is also fine on paper, but in practice, it simply encourages defenses to drop eight men into coverage - just as the Eagles defense did against the Chiefs.
Andy Reid needs to realize that in Jamaal Charles, he has a running back who can keep those defenses honest. Charles has proven it in the last two games, when his best runs have come late in the game. If Jamaal can do it late in the game - when everybody knows he's going to run the ball to protect a lead - he can certainly do it early in the game, and open up the short and intermediate passing routes for Alex Smith and his receivers.
Andy, I love what you're doing - just as I loved what Marty was doing. But please... please... PLEASE... expand your thinking. Please realize that you can hand Jamaal Charles the ball, and make your West Coast offense the envy of every other WCO. Marty had the right idea, but he just didn't have the tools he needed. You have the tools. Use them.
Because ten years from now, I don't want to be talking about how Andyball broke my heart.