Did anyone see this coming?
Remember what you thought about the Kansas City Chiefs after the first couple weeks? If you’re like the rest of us, you probably thought the strengths of this team were the defense and special teams. Many just hoped that this apparently meager offense would be just good enough to not lose them games, maybe get a couple of touchdowns on the board.
Turns out we were wrong. The offense is by far the best thing the Chiefs have going for them. Surprisingly, the Chiefs are 6th in the NFL in yards per game.
One thing that, at least in my opinion, is exceeding expectations is the running game. Yes, this was perceived as the strength of this unit going into the season, but did anyone think they would be dominating this much? Going into the year, I thought this had the potential to be a top 5 rushing team. They are 1st in the NFL, and it isn’t even close. With 174.3 yards per game on the ground, the next closest team is the New York Jets with 148.1. Thomas Jones is a solid back and Jamaal Charles is, in my opinion, playing better than anyone in the NFL at the running back position right now.
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But the shocker is not the dominance of the running game. Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe have gone from being viewed as the definite weaknesses of the team to being among the best in the NFL at their respective positions.
Early in the year, I had many arguments with Chiefs Command’s own Jason Tarwater about whether Cassel was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Although I still don’t see any signs in hindsight of Cassel being good all along, I am happy to admit that it looks as if I was wrong about him. The turnaround is remarkable. Instead of throwing the ball at receivers’ feet or over their heads, Cassel is throwing with remarkable accuracy lately. Instead of only throwing to his first read, he actually is making progressions and finding the open man. But the most remarkable difference in Cassel’s performance to me has been his pocket presence. Last year, he had perhaps the worst pocket presence I have ever seen in a quarterback. This year he is sidestepping pass rushers with ease, tucking the ball and running when appropriate, and getting rid of the ball at the right time. Last year, he was sacked many times and fumbled the ball a lot. That is not the case now, and that is as much a testament to Cassel as it is to this improved offensive line.
But finally, Dwayne Bowe is playing out of his mind. He is hot on a 7-game stretch that is the best by any human wide receiver in history (Jerry Rice does not count). He is getting open and making clutch plays. Even when he doesn’t get separation, he goes up and makes a play. He set the franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a season, and he has 5 games to go.
We may never know how much of the turnaround goes to Todd Haley, Charlie Weis, Cassel, Bowe, or the offensive line. But what we do know is that the Chiefs now have an element that they have not had in a long time: a good passing game.
Oh, and by the way: the Chiefs will have another big-time playmaker back this week that they have not had in a long time. Enter Dexter McCluster.
This might not be quite the offense that it was in 2002 and 2003, but it sure is fun to have one that can put a lot of points on the board.