Buccaneers-Chiefs preview: Dee Ford, Alex Smith and the Chiefs passing game
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, which means it’s time for questions with the enemy. Thanks to Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride for answering our questions!
1. How has Alex Smith turned into a consistently solid starting quarterback? Am I the only one who remembers when he was a horrible bust?
Nope you’re not the only one! We have plenty that remember. He started completing passes, however short they were, and he didn’t turn it over. Do you realize how far that gets you in the NFL? It seems lame to use that as one of your quarterback’s strengths but turnovers are one of the predictive factors of wins and losses. His skill set is a good fit with Andy Reid and what he asks Alex to do. He can hit shorter passes, make the right read, stay accurate and don’t blow it for one of the best defenses in the league. Alex isn’t the type of quarterback whose style could work on 32 other teams like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers but he’s a good fit for what they do in Kansas City.
2. The Chiefs have suffered so many injuries, it’s actually worse than the Bucs’ list of injured players. And yet, Kansas City keeps winning games. Is that just quality depth or is something else going on?
It’s surprising me too. If you asked me a year ago the Chiefs chances of winning games without Jamaal Charles I would have said very low. They’ve only won 17 of their last 19 mostly without him. Same with Justin Houston. I never thought the Chiefs defense could survive without him. But they kept winning. Jeremy Maclin, Alex Smith, Spencer Ware … if you’re a good player on the Chiefs, you’ve probably been injured this year. I credit the depth on the team. The Chiefs are much deeper, it’s something we’ve noticed the past couple of years. Additionally, this is a great coaching staff. They coach them up. It’s a veteran staff that’s been doing this a long time. They know injuries happen and they have the next man up prepared. I haven’t been around a team with a coaching staff like this and a roster like this before. It feels unique with the way they handle so many injuries.
3. Tight end Travis Kelce is the Chiefs’ leading receiver, and no one has topped 500 receiving yards. How has Andy Reid coped?
I mean, I watch all the games and I know they win but you step back and hit me with a stat like that and I’m like, wait a minute, how have they been doing this? First, any credit needs to go to the defense for creating the most turnovers and giving the Chiefs a short field. That’s part of the reason you may not have gaudier numbers. Next, the Chiefs running game was very good for a few weeks there Spencer Ware got a concussion a few weeks ago, missed a game and only had 61 yards last week so that’s three games with little production. Don’t let the season numbers fool you because the Chiefs can run the ball when Ware is up and healthy. To get to your question, the passing game. The first thing is that they’re not as good in the passing game as other teams. The other thing is that they spread it out quite a bit. For example, the Chiefs have five players with at least 300 yards receiving; the Bucs have three. The Chiefs are missing that No. 1 receiver production, which they haven’t gotten out of Jeremy Maclin this year due to injuries and other factors (other factors = the Chiefs passing game has not been very good).
4. So ehm, it seems Dee Ford might actually be pretty good? 10 sacks in nine games after two disappointing seasons is fairly amazing. What clicked this season?
Yeah I totally saw this coming. Never doubted him for a minute! That’s a lie. Most in KC called him a bust entering this season. Do a twitter search for “dee ford bust” and you’ll see. The thing that I noticed in his first couple years is that he didn’t seem very big. Like you put him next to Justin Houston, who is a monster, and it’s a noticeable size difference. So I would say that a couple years in an NFL weight room has helped. It’s allowed him to develop secondary pass rush moves. The reason he was a first round pick is his first step and his speed around the corner. That’s always been there. But if you don’t have a second move, teams can prepare for that speed move as good as it is. He got stronger, he can use his hands better (learned from the master Tamba Hali) and you’ll see other pass rush moves. He’ll spin inside. He’ll club you with a swim move. It’s been fun to watch him this year. To be fair, he’s played twice as many snaps this year as he did in his first two years combined. He’s showing out with his first legit opportunity.
5. Is there an unknown Chiefs player who could have a big impact on the game?
Tyreek Hill. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him but you’ll notice him because he might be the fastest player in the NFL. He will return punts and was recently returning kicks too but with an increased role on offense that may go back to Knile Davis. He plays receiver on offense. Last week with Jeremy Maclin out he saw 13 targets and caught 10 passes. The Chiefs will do a couple of things with him on offense. First, the screens. He’s not a huge guy so he doesn’t break many tackles but if he could break one tackle he would have a few more touchdowns off of the screens this year. Gotta watch him there. It’s fun watching him go from 0 to 60 to quickly. The other thing they’ll do is a vertical route. For only being 5’10 he actually has some decent ball skills. I bet they try at least one of those on Sunday.. He leads the Chiefs in receiving touchdowns so he’s been a surprise in KC.
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