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Bob Lutz: Chiefs look for explanations amidst 1-5 collapse

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Bob Lutz
November 27, 2017 - 2:00 pm

There is, undoubtedly, a logical explanation for what has happened to the Kansas City Chiefs since their impressive 5-0 start to the 2017 season.

Somebody who knows football backward and forward can probably tell you why the Chiefs are 1-5 since and why every single offensive player has gone into a deep funk, no one deeper or funkier than quarterback Alex Smith.

Surely, Chiefs coach Andy Reid can tell us.

Andy?

What? You have nothing?

Mysteries of the football universe, that’s what the Chiefs are. This is a team that whipped New England on the road in the first game of the NFL season. This is a team that knocked off Philadelphia in Week 2, still the Eagles’ only loss of the season.

After five wins, Smith had a quarterback rating of 4 million. He had completed 76.6 percent of his pass attempts for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. At 33, he was having the season of his life.

People honestly couldn’t believe what they were seeing out of Smith, who has spent much of his career being maligned. Even so, it was difficult not to buy the goods he was delivering with a diverse group of play makers around him.

Then . . . you know. Then it all started to unravel. And in the past two weeks, the Chiefs have lost to the dysfunctional New York Giants, without even scoring a touchdown, and to the down-and-apparently-out Buffalo Bills, who had given up 101 points in their previous two games before giving up 10 to Kansas City on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City, meanwhile, has managed 16 points against the two teams from New York, with a third – the Jets – coming up Sunday.

The Chiefs are 6-5, just a game in front of the Chargers and Raiders in the AFC West. What looked like a potential journey to the Super Bowl has turned into a journey into darkness.

When Smith threw an interception with less than two minutes remaining Sunday against the Bills, during what looked like it could be a game-winning drive, what was left of the Arrowhead crowd couldn’t even muster must anger. Instead, there was sheer disappointment mixed with disbelief.

As fans were leaving the stadium, though, there were boos. People are mad. People are confused. People are ready for rookie Patrick Mahomes to get a shot at QB.

The only person that matters, though, is Reid. And he said after the game that Mahomes is not going to replace Smith. Which is the right call.

I think.

It’s so hard to know much of anything about the Chiefs at this point. They fooled us big time with the fast start. Go back and watch that performance at New England – it was phenomenal. And while we didn’t know it at the time, the win over the Eagles was special.

In those times, Smith was utilizing an array of weaponry. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt was chewing up yards and opposing defenses were often expecting one thing when the Chiefs threw something else at them.

Dare I say, Kansas City looked invincible.

But the NFL is a strange entity. What you see one week often doesn’t reappear the next. Defensive coaches notice things and they use those things against you. They scheme, they adjust, they take away. And it’s up to the offensive coaches to adjust, re-invent and create.

The same people who referred to Reid as an offensive genius early on are now calling him other things. And poor Alex Smith is catching it again from every angle.

Smith has completed only 63 percent of his passes during the Chiefs’ 1-5 stretch. After not throwing an interception in the first eight games, he’s thrown four in the previous three games. Still, Smith has the highest quarterback rating (104.5) of his career, which says a lot about just how good he was early.

In those days, the Chiefs had a running game. Remember rookie tailback Kareem Hunt? Yeah, the guy who rushed for 609 yards and four touchdowns during KC’s 5-0 start.

Let’s just say Hunt has cooled off, rushing for 281 yards and no touchdowns in the past six games. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since early October and after averaging 6.3 yards per carry when the Chiefs were hot, he’s averaged 3.3 yards per carry since the Chiefs turned cold.

Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill – the fastest man in the (AFC) West – has had only two 100-yard-plus receiving games and scored only four touchdowns.

The Chiefs’ offensive still ranks seventh in the NFL in points and ninth in yards, but it’s an offense that has gone flat.

And still – still – there remains hope. The Chiefs’ remaining schedule includes road games against the Jets and Broncos with consecutive home games against the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins sandwiched between.

I know, I know – the Chiefs just lost to the Giants and Bills. Nothing should be taken for granted.

But even a 3-2 run would get Kansas City to 9-7 and make it difficult for either the Chargers or Raiders to catch the Chiefs.

It does no good to play with the numbers, however. Numbers cannot be trusted.

And it turns out the Chiefs can’t be trusted, either. This season has hit the skids. Nobody can make a reasonable explanation. What’s good has gone bad and may never again become good again.


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