NFL Wire News

Chiefs’ 2014 Analysis: Don’t blame the defense


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the Kansas City Chiefs begin the evaluation process of what was ultimately a disappointing 2014 season, the attention of general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid must focus on the team’s offense.

The Chiefs’ defense and special teams carried their share of the water during the 9-7 season. They finished second in the NFL in fewest points allowed (281) and they were the league’s only defense that did not allow a 300-yard passer or a play in the passing game of 50 yards or more.

There was a bend to coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense, but very little break. The kicking game was solid, with two return touchdowns and good punting, kicking and coverage.

But Reid’s offense had problems, and the biggest reason proved to be personnel. The Chiefs had major holes at wide receiver and along the offensive line.

The 2014 Chiefs were the first team since the 1950 Detroit Lions that did not have a single touchdown catch by a wide receiver. Quarterbacks were sacked 49 times, or a sack every 11 passing plays; that ranked 29th in the league.

Without a doubt, the Chiefs must find help at wide receiver and along the offensive line, specifically at left guard and right tackle.

Wide receiver is a position that needed help coming into the 2014 season, but the Chiefs did not add a single veteran free agent or college receiver of note to the roster.

“At the time, we thought we had some players that could help us,” Dorsey said. “But then as you go into the free agency process, (we) missed on a couple of guys. And then as the draft unfolded there were certain guys that you had pegged in certain situations that they may have peeled off a step or two before.

“I think that the stats speak for themselves and we’re going to have to do some work there.”

Veteran Dwayne Bowe led the wide receivers but not the team in receiving, catching 60 passes for 754 yards and no scores.

By the end of the season, undrafted rookie Albert Wilson rose to the No. 2 spot but still caught only 16 passes for 260 yards.

Donnie Avery, Jason Avant, Junior Hemingway, Frankie Hammond each had the chance during the season to hold down a starting job, but combined those four caught 44 passes for 481 yards. The group lacks speed and consistency.

Good receivers won’t be productive if the quarterback isn’t given enough protection to throw the ball, whether short, intermediate or down the field routes.

Quarterback Alex Smith got banged around all season, enough so that finally a hit by Pittsburgh linebacker Jason Worilds left him with a lacerated spleen and an early exit from the season.

The blocking unit was solid at center with Rodney Hudson, but he’s an impending free agent.

Eric Fisher made progress in his first season at left tackle.

“I thought Fish made big strides this year,” Reid said. “He played every game and took down the left tackle position. He did all that without having really any offseason.

“I think he’s looking forward to an offseason where he’s not rehabbing an injury (shoulder and sports hernia surgery after the 2013 season.) That will be important that he gets in and continues to increase his strength.”

Rookie Zach Fulton started all 16 games at right guard, but left guard Jeff Allen was lost in the first game because of a torn biceps muscle and right tackle Donald Stephenson missed the first four games on an NFL suspension, then did not earn back his spot with the first unit.

“He had to regain the trust of the coaching staff for the things that he did,” Dorsey said. “He has a big challenge this year … to regain trust with those coaches and he has to prove to them (he’s ready to play.)”

Dorsey and Reid have a big challenge ahead of them as well. They have a handful of potential free agents from their own locker room that they need to sign, topped by NFL sack leader Justin Houston, who figures to break the bank after his 22-sack season.

The Chiefs hope inside linebacker Derrick Johnson can come back after a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his season in week one. Same with defensive end Mike DeVito.

And there remains concern about safety Eric Berry and his future in dealing with lymphoma and his treatments.

“As I look at this season, did we lose some opportunities to go to the playoffs? Yeah, we lost some opportunities there,” Dorsey said. “There are some things here that you can build off of and be positive.

“If you look at our schedule, I think 11 of the teams we played this year were over .500. Was it challenging? You’re darn right it was challenging. I think it shows that to be competitive week-in and week-out, you have to be consistent.

“And that’s the thing that you build off of. Those are the little things that you build off of moving forward.”

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