After less than impressive offensive performances in the first two preseason games, a renewed effort was good enough for a 26-20 overtime win for the Kansas City Chiefs over the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
“This was really the first time we actually game-planned,” Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith explained. The Chiefs’ “dress-rehearsal” third preseason game proclaimed to Kansas City fans loudly one thing: the offensive game plan in 2013 is going to be simple as ABC: Donnie Avery, Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles.
Charles led Kansas City in touches with nine (seven rushes, two receptions). Avery and Bowe both had six catches. Those combined 21 touches helped the Chiefs to ten first half points which included Alex Smith’s first touchdown pass as a Chief, to Junior Hemingway.
Smith’s comment plus the numbers should be taken as a succinct statement of what the offensive game plan for the Chiefs will be in 2013. That is simply getting the ball into the hands of Kansas City’s three best playmakers. It makes sense to try to involve your best players as often as possible. However, recent history suggests that only having a triumvirate of effective targets is about as effective for winning championships as Congress is at taking quick action.
The last five Super Bowl champions all had at least four offensive weapons who got at least 50 touches through the regular season. What that says for the Chiefs is that eventually, if they want to compete for Super Bowl titles, someone else besides the triumvirate will have to make a significant contribution.
On the defensive side, things aren’t much more complicated. The plan as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has shown thus far through three preseason games is lots of pressure up front with the front seven and relies on the coverage skills of the secondary. The hope is to plug up running lanes like mucus clogs up my sinuses this time of year and to harass quarterbacks in a way that would make the most avid Facebook stalker jealous.
However, we saw a weakness in the 34-yard touchdown pass from Steelers’ quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to rookie receiver Markus Wheaton. If the opposing offense picks up the blitz, that defense is vulnerable to big plays downfield. If the offense only scores 10 points a half, three of those big plays would mean the Chiefs are in the same shape as someone selling Velveeta at an organic market.
To give Kansas City a chance to win games, big plays are going to have to be made by the defensive front seven and the offensive triumvirate. Victory in 2013 will depend on the execution of a game plan that is as easy as ABC.