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Reid’s Chiefs seem to be in decline

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KANSAS CITY — In three years leading the Kansas City Chiefs, coach Andy Reid’s early season record has taken a nosedive.

After losing 36-21 to Cincinnati on Sunday, Reid’s team is 1-3 in the first quarter of the 2015 schedule thanks to a three-game losing streak

That’s quite a change from the team’s first two starts under Reid:

–2013, 4-0, with a point differential of plus 61.

–2014, 2-2, point differential of plus 23.

–2015, 1-3, point differential of minus 25.

“We’re moving backward and we have got to take care of that,” Reid said after the game. “We are going to do that.”

Reid was speaking specifically about the problems his offense has with negative plays, penalties, quarterback sacks and mental mistakes that dogged the Chiefs against the Bengals.

But those words describe both sides of the ball for the Chiefs after four games. The offense is mistake prone, but the defense is the biggest disappointment in the season’s first quarter.

In all of the 2014 season, coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense did not give up a 300-yard passing game to any opposing quarterback. The Chiefs gave up two in six days, as Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and Andy Dalton finished with 321 yards.

Four games into the schedule, the Chiefs are getting a sack once in every 17.8 passing plays, have forced only three turnovers and gave up an average of 397 yards per game. They allowed 11 touchdown passes. Help arrived on Sunday with the return of cornerback Sean Smith, who served a three-game NFL suspension because of a DUI arrest and auto accident last year. Smith was able to handle the talents of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (7 catches for 82 yards), but Cincinnati still had seven pass completions of 20 yards or more, and two of more than 50 yards.

“For us, it was about giving up big plays,” Smith said. “If you check out the stats, they’re pretty equal on both sides. The difference was, when it counted they stood up and forced us to kick field goals. And we just gave up way too many big plays.”

With K.C.’s offensive line struggling in pass protection, Reid needs his defense to step up and provide some stops in the battle for field position and momentum.

That did not happen against Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati. They have another chance this coming Sunday when they return to Arrowhead Stadium to host the Chicago Bears.

“In the National Football League, it’s not as bad as you think and not as good as you think,” Reid said. “There is a small margin between winning and losing, and we’ve got to tighten that up … we’ve got to keep getting better and that’s the bottom line.

“This team has great character and they’re willing to work … I like this football team. We’ve got to stick together and we’ll be OK.”

But the locker room feels the effect of the season’s ticking clock.

“If we don’t get this figured out,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said, “we are going to be in for a long season.”

REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C. For the Chiefs, with quarterback Alex Smith passing for 386 yards is highly unusual. It was the best yardage day of Smith’s 11-season NFL career. However, he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and Cincinnati sacked Smith five times. The Chiefs have allowed 19 sacks in four games. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was targeted 13 times, caught 11 for 148 yards, his second big receiving day. Tight end Travis Kelce however, had only five catches for 49 yards and lost a fumble.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D. Take away Alex Smith’s five runs for 25 yards while scrambling away from the pass rush, and the Chiefs ran for only 88 yards on 18 carries. Jamaal Charles was a contributor as a runner and receiver, including a 24-yard run. But that left only 64 yards on the other 17 carries for the Chiefs, just 3.8 yards per carry. Going down 14-3 in the first quarter took coach Andy Reid’s offense out of the running game in the first half, but they fought back to trail by only two points at halftime

–PASS DEFENSE: D. In the previous two games, the Chiefs gave up eight touchdown passes to Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. They kept Andy Dalton out of the end zone, but they weren’t able to keep him from hurting them with plenty of big plays in his 321 passing yards. Dalton completed six passes of 20 yards or more. The Chiefs did not force an interception and did not pick up a sack against Cincinnati.

–RUN DEFENSE: D. After not allowing a rushing touchdown in the season’s first three games, the Chiefs gave up four to the Bengals, including three by Jeremy Hill. The duo of Hill and Giovanni Bernard combined for 102 yards on 22 carries and the running game produced eight of Cincinnati’s 18 first downs

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Other than two bad penalties, the kicking game was all the Chiefs had when it came to putting points on the scoreboard. Kicker Cairo Santos was seven-of-seven on field goals, with two from 51 yards. Those seven set a franchise record for successful field goals in a game. Kansas City lost a 70-yard kickoff return when the Chiefs were called for an illegal block, and late in the game Santos knocked a kickoff out of bounds, allowing Cincinnati to start its possession at their 40-yard line.

–COACHING: D. On defense, the Chiefs had no idea what the Bengals were up to as they gave up two touchdowns on matching seven-play, 80-yard drives. Eventually, they figured out what was going on and slowed down the Cincinnati offense. The offensive attack struggled with mistakes, especially after crossing the 50-yard line. All seven of Kansas City’s field goals can be attributed to negative plays, penalties and other mistakes by the offense.


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