From the Truman Sports Complex
The progress of the Chiefs offense from last year to this one can be judged by how many times head coach Andy Reid blows his whistle.
The shrill noise signifies the end of the action for each play. Last year, Reid spent a lot of time blowing his whistle before the ball was even snapped. The Chiefs struggled in the early days of learning his version of the west coast offense and at least a half-dozen times per-practice, they were sent back to the huddle to re-group line up correctly and run the play.
During the current OTA sessions that continued Tuesday with an indoor practice at the team’s facility, players running with the first-team offense have given Reid an opportunity to save his breath. Even the No. 2 offense and the new faces on the roster are cruising through practice plan with a minimum amount of pre-snap mental errors involving alignment, movement and motion.
“Everyone is a lot further along in the playbook than we were last year at this time,” said fullback Anthony Sherman. “It makes these practices so much better because everyone is on the same page and knows what to do. We are much improved from last year.”
Sean Smith charged with DUI & careless driving/details at the end of the post
Over his head coaching career Reid has always put together offensive playbooks built on the foundation of diversity, whether in the run game or the passing attack. He stays pretty true to the west-coast offensive education he received as an assistant coach under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay. The key to the west-coast offense has always been an abundance of options in each game plan.
Reid’s desire to reach deep into the playbook at the start of last season was tempered by the newness of his situation and personnel he found in his first year with the Chiefs. Through the first 10 games on the 2013 schedule, the Chiefs had a 9-1 record, but the offense scored just 18 offensive touchdowns in those 10 games.
As the schedule wore on, the Chiefs offense improved and in the season’s final seven games (including the first-round loss in the playoffs to Indianapolis) the Chiefs offense scored 28 touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Smith and the offense really clicked in that postseason game against the Colts, as they scored five touchdowns and gave the Chiefs a 28-point lead with 28 minutes to play. They ended up losing thanks to a collapse from the Kansas City defense.
As the 2014 offseason program began the offensive coaching staff pushed the theme of picking up where they left off. There was no talk of going back and starting from square one. That has made installation quick and relatively painless.
“The second time around these guys really picked up right where we left off with the Indianapolis game,” said offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. “They understand what we are trying to teach and put in. We’ve focused on the things that we were successful with at the end of last season. They have responded really well.”
They will have to respond quickly when the 2014 season begins. The Chiefs face a much tougher schedule in September and October than they did a year ago. Among their first nine opponents in 2013 only Philadelphia made the playoffs. This year among their first five foes are Denver (September 14), New England (September 29) and San Francisco (October 5).
In Tuesday’s practice the Chiefs offense showed some plays that more than likely would not have been possible last year. Since the end of last season Reid, Pederson and the rest of the offensive coaching staff have been able to add more options to the scheme. Eligible receivers are lining up all over the field, including wide receivers in the backfield and running backs as wide receivers.
Plays in June sometimes never see the light of day in the fall; the off-season is a time for experimentation with plays and personnel. It’s likely that a few of the plays the offense ran Tuesday will be discarded, or moved to the back of the playbook. The fact the coaching staff has the confidence and time to experiment with the offense in June should only help in September, October and beyond.
OTA notes from Tuesday: Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith was charged with driving under the influence after he struck a light pole in downtown Kansas City early Monday morning. Smith was turning at the intersection of 12th and Grand when he swerved and hit the pole. The incident was observed by a Kansas City police officer. Smith was charged with DUI, careless driving and failure to provide proof of insurance. Smith was at the OTA practice on Tuesday, but he was demoted to the No. 2 defense. Marcus Cooper moved to right cornerback and Ron Parker came in and worked at left corner.
There were 81 players participating in the seventh OTA session. Running back DeAnthony Thomas is not allowed to practice because of NFL rules. Outside linebacker Justin Houston and cornerback Brandon Flowers continued their boycott of the option workouts. Wide receiver Junior Hemingway was not taking part on Tuesday. Dealing with injuries and out of the work were wide receivers A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and Kyle Williams (knee), tight end Travis Kelce (knee), linebacker Ben Johnson (hamstring) and cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring.) . . .¬† first-round draft pick Dee Ford continues to get significant opportunities with the No. 1 defense at outside linebacker, usually in place of Tamba Hali . . . Tuesday’s version of the No. 1 offensive line was Donald Stephenson at left tackle, Jeff Allen at left guard, Rodney Hudson at center, rookie Zach Fulton at right guard and Jeff Linkenbach at right tackle . . . subbing in on the right side were Rishaw Johnson (guard) and J’Marcus Webb (tackle) . . . very good catches were frequent in the offense coming from tight ends Anthony Fasano and Demetrius Harris and rookie wide receiver Darryl Sargent . . . safety Sanders Commings played the deep middle well and picked off a throw by quarterback Chase Daniel. On the next play, Commings reacted slowly on a throw to his right that was grabbed by Harris.