Hello Bills fans, and welcome to this week's cross-blogging weekly installment of Ask A Chiefs Fan. The Chiefs? The Kansas City Chiefs? Yeah, those Chiefs. The team that gave Buffalo one Chan Gailey a few years ago. The same team that ONE year ago was mired in a 2-14 debacle, along with a player suicide. Yeah ... THAT team. The same team that is NOW somehow sporting an 8-0 record, the last (and ostensibly worst ever) undefeated team in the NFL.
Who would have thought back in training camp that the Chiefs would be sitting at 8-0 at the halfway point of the season? Well ... nobody. At least, no one who hadn't been deemed to be clinically insane. But here they are: one team and one game away from entering the bye week (and a subsequent date with the Denver Broncos) undefeated, a week and a game from matching the best franchise start in team history. And that, my friends, is where the obstacle known as the Buffalo Bills comes into play. And that, folks, is actually a scary thought for most Chiefs fans, because playing in Buffalo has never been a good thing for our favorite football team.
To help you, the non-Chiefs fan, understand how the Chiefs have arrived at this point undefeated, allow me to toss out a (personal) "grade" if you will for various parts of the team as a whole, beginning with the guy at the top ...
Clark Hunt, the team's owner, spent an unheard of 10 hours luring Andy Reid out of Philadelphia after his dismissal there. There was little question at the time that Reid would be THE hottest commodity on the coaching carousel of the NFL, and Hunt simply made up his mind that he wanted Reid, and refused to go home without the guy. A 10 hour interview? Hiring the best guy available? Giving him whatever he needs to be successful? Clark Hunt: Grade A+
In Reid, Hunt found a soul who had gone through personal tragedy, much as the Chiefs did in 2012. Forget wins and losses, we're talking about the loss of a son for Reid, and loss of a player/teammate/friend for the Chiefs organization. Both men had lost someone close. Both men also had the same goals and passion. Both men wanted to build a winner. Reid came on board with his own system, his own ideas, his own way of dealing with players and it clicked. Not so much the offense, but the team as a whole. In order for his system to work, Reid needed his players to "buy in" to his system and "buy in" ti his style of leadership. The players believed from the beginning, and the result is team unity on an unheard of scale in professional sports. Every week the clubhouse quotes and tweets use the word "family" from everyone on the team, from every coach and player on the squad. Family. Faith in each other. Working hard for the team. The same core group of players as last year, the same group by and large that just lost 12 games, has now turned things around completely, and THAT friends, is a major accomplishment. Andy Reid: Grade A+
Of course, Reid couldn't do it alone, so the wise decision was made to dismiss former GM Scott Pioli and hire in his place one John Dorsey from the Packers organization. All Dorsey has done is revamp the bottom half of the roster to fill out a team that lacked depth, and turn it into a team with perhaps more depth than any other in the NFL. Top two TE's both get injured? No problem, waiver wire pickup and bearded wonder Sean McGrath has it covered. Need depth in the secondary? Got it made in the shade with Niners castoff and rookie Marcus Cooper. Brandon Flowers needs a running mate at CB? Sean Smith to save the day. FB an issue? Enter Anthony Sherman. And of course the biggest need any team can have is at QB, and the Chiefs had a MAJOR need there, along with the first overall pick of the draft, only to find the choices this year lacking in ... well, a lot, really. Relax, Dorsey swings a deal for Alex Smith. From number one draft pick Eric Fisher to WR Donnie Avery. There are more examples, but really it's obvious. John Dorsey: Grade A+
That said, perhaps no player has made more of an impact on a team than Alex Smith (awesome post by Arrowhead Pride fan RDOGuy). Confidence. Leadership. Yes, even the ability to scramble a bit. The guy simply doesn't lose for you. Oh, we've all heard that he's just a "game manager" and will never win a game for the team. He can't put the team on his back, he's no Peyton Manning (or Drew Brees). He's a stopgap, a temporary fix, the Chiefs will be lucky to win half their games. Needless to say, most Chiefs fans are thrilled right now, if nothing else than by the fact that Smith doesn't do what Matt Cassel did: take sack after sack and throw one INT after another. What Smith DOES do is make good choices and wise decisions. He knows when to eat the ball. He also knows when to take off and run, even scoring a TD on a broken draw play against the Texans a week ago. He's no Dan Marino or John Elway or Jim Kelly, but he does one thing well: he wins games, and in this league that counts more than anything. Alex Smith: Grade B
Yes, the Chiefs still rely heavily on Jamaal Charles for production, and Charles has responded well, with over 100 yards of all-purpose yardage in every game this year. Every. Single. Game. And yes, the Chiefs still have Dwayne Bowe at WR (links to a great read on Bowe by AP's Matt Verdame), but the erstwhile DBowe Show has been canceled, in favor of a player who goes out and throws blocks downfield for another player, so while Bowe doesn't have that many receptions or yards, what he DOES have is a team that has won its first 8 games, and a smile on his face. As for the rest of the offense: TE Sal Fasano is healthy and back, the OLine is beginning to come together as a unit and Andy Reid has been keeping other teams guessing each week just enough to be successful.. Offense: Grade C+
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs have been at the top of almost every statistical category all season long. Be it holdovers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Donatari Poe or Derrick Johnson ... or newcomers Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper or Akeem Jordan ... the Chiefs defense has gone from Romeo Crennel's "Bend But Don't Break" to Bob Sutton's "We're Gonna Bend You, Then We're Gonna Break You, Then We're Gonna Eat You For Breakfast" style, with Poe-Hali and Houston emerging as major forces up front. If you like watching a great defense do what it does best, you'll love this group. And new DC Bob Sutton has done nothing short of a remarkable job for this band of players. He's been described as "a librarian" and "soft spoken" ... think Vincent Price: mild mannered glee with a devious mind. Defense: Grade A
Finally, no mention can be made of the team as a whole without including Special Teams, units that are often overlooked ... until something goes wrong. Ryan Succop has quietly emerged as one of the best kickers in the game, and there may be nobody in the game better at pinning the other team's offense deep with a well-placed punt than Dustin Colquitt. The Chiefs are truly blessed to have both these players, and both have performed at a high level this season, which comes as no surprise to Chiefs fans. Slot guy Dexter McCluster is a more than capable returner, and has a TD runback already this year. Special Teams: Grade B+
And there you have it, folks. Mid-term grades from a completely unbiased (cough*choke) source. Here's to a clean, injury-free game on Sunday, my friends. Any questions you have about the Chiefs will be answered repeatedly by hundreds of Chiefs fans descending like a plague upon Buffalo Ramblings. Remember, suffering builds character. Just ask Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chiefs vs Bills. Are you ready for some football? I know I am.