NFL Wire News

Hunt kept faith as Chiefs, Reid rebounded

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The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs head into their bye weekend on a modest two-game winning streak and a first-half record of 3-5, far less than what was expected from this year’s club during the run-up to the start of the 2015 season.

They survived a five-game losing streak and are coming out of the other side with side with back-to-back victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. They now have a week off before tough divisional road games at Denver and San Diego and four of their next five against the AFC West.

“Clearly during the five-game losing streak, we were all very disappointed; it’s not what any of us expected going into the season,” said Chiefs chairman and lead owner Clark Hunt. “I was glad to see the guys get it turned around last week (victory over Pittsburgh) and play a solid four quarters of football.”

Hunt’s team built on that winning effort against the Steelers with the 45-10 drubbing of Detroit at London’s Wembley Stadium in the NFL’s final international game of the season. The Chiefs trailed 3-0 early in the first quarter and then ran away from the Lions, putting up 38 unanswered points.

So how could a team capable of that – even against a struggling Lions club – go out and lose five consecutive games? What happened with the five-game losing streak?

“I don’t think there was a good explanation for it, and there wasn’t just one thing,” Hunt said. “We lost as a team. Until last week when we played better across all three phases of the game and played a full four quarters, we just hadn’t done what we needed to, to win a football game.”

Hunt, son of AFL icon Lamar Hunt and grandson of American tycoon H.L. Hunt, is the ultimate authority in the organization. He says there was no consideration of making any changes in team leadership during the five consecutive losses.

It’s not that Hunt is afraid of change – Reid is the fourth head coach and John Dorsey the third general manager he’s employed since taking control of the team in 2008 after the death of his father and team founder Lamar Hunt.

Just maybe he has matured and is now better able to weather the football storms.

“I have full confidence in Andy and John Dorsey; I think they’re the right people to lead our football team,” Hunt said. “They’re as disappointed as I am, but I think they’re the right guys … they’re both extremely talented, they do a great job. They have very good staffs, they do a good job of leading their staffs, so they’re the right guys for the Kansas City Chiefs.”

The trip to London was one factor in what so far has been an unusual schedule for the Chiefs. With the game against Detroit in England followed by a bye week and then division road trips to Denver and San Diego, the Chiefs will not play their fourth game at Arrowhead Stadium until the 12th week of the season on November 29 against Buffalo.

“Yeah, this (London game) was one issue that clogged the scheduling up,” Hunt said. “Every year, we make a point of asking the league for as many home games in September and October as they can give us. They’ll listen to us and I think the fact that we had such an unusual year this year, where we’ve played so few home games, I do think that they might take that into consideration and help us with that issue.”

REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C. Once again a shuffled offensive line had trouble providing consistent protection for quarterback Alex Smith, who was sacked three times in 29 passing plays and was forced to run five times when the pocket was collapsing. Still, Smith threw a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions. There were no big plays (longest passing play was 23 yards) and Smith averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A. The Chiefs running game is starting to show signs of life, coming off its production against Pittsburgh last week and running for 206 yards on 32 carries against the Lions. Now, 78 yards came from the scrambling feet of quarterback Alex Smith, including a 49-yard run. But Charcandrick West ran for 97 yards on 20 carries, including a 32-yard run. Spencer Ware, De’Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis also had positive yardage. That this came with an offensive line that was patchwork at left guard and right tackle, it was the club’s best performance of the season.

–PASS DEFENSE: A. Throwing the ball is what Detroit does on offense and the Chiefs responded with a very good performance against Matthew Stafford. They grabbed a pair of interceptions and they sacked Stafford six times, including two by safety Ron Parker. The longest completion they allowed was 30 yards. Stafford got a late TD pass to wide receiver Lance Moore, while wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught only five passes, picking up 85 yards.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B. The Chiefs gave up 32 yards on the first running play by the Lions offense, and after that allowed only 24 yards on the next 13 rushing plays. Since the Chiefs offense jumped out to a big lead in the first half, Detroit was not in the mind or mood to run the ball, using the ground game only eight times in the game’s last three quarters and picking up just 31 yards. Good, not great effort by the run defense due to the 32-yarder they allowed off the bat.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B. In search of a touchdown return in the kicking game, the Chiefs were shut out, but they did produce a 50-yard kickoff return by Knile Davis and a 37-yard punt return by De’Anthony Thomas. Those are two of the three longest returns in the first half of the season for Kansas City. Punter Dustin Colquitt was once again a dominator in field position, averaging 41 yards on four punts, but knocking three of those down inside the 20-yard line. On kickoffs, Cairo Santos knocked all eight of his kicks into the end zone and Detroit brought six of them out, but averaged 25.2 yards a return. Solid performance from the Chiefs.

–COACHING: A. It may have taken eight games, but the victory over Detroit was the Chiefs best overall performance of the season. Certainly beating up the Lions is not an unusual event and Kansas City outhustled the struggling team from Motown. But it wasn’t easy for Andy Reid and his staff, as they had to field another patchwork offensive line and had to handle the nine-hour flight east for the trip to London. Reid decided to arrive as late as allowed by the NFL, with the Chiefs not touching down until late Friday morning, a full three days after the Lions checked in. Reid stressed that this was a business trip, and the Chiefs certainly took care of their business on this Sunday.


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