Realistic Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Andy Reid's First Year with Chiefs
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:
From @mortreport and me: Andy Reid has reached agreement to become next HC of Chiefs, pending review of contract by each side's attorneys.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 4, 2013
This is not surprising, because Reid was among the most appealing coaches available, and the Chiefs needed a more proven head coach than their past couple leading men.
Having led the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC Championship Games during his tenure, Reid now takes over a Kansas City team that only qualified for the postseason three times in that same time span. Finishing 2012 with an abysmal 2-14 record, the Chiefs don't have anywhere to go but up.
As for Reid, consider Kansas City a great starting point for a fresh start. There's no pressure, and the rebuilding process can now begin.
The end result of what to expect for the 2013 season gives way to best- and worst-case scenarios for Reid come next fall.
Best Case: Chiefs Finish 9-7
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Obviously, the remaining six contests take place within the AFC West.
Given the Chiefs' opportunity to improve this offseason through the NFL draft—as well as the fact that they lost five games by 10 points or less this season—there is good reason to believe that 2013 will turn out better. The toughest opponents that Kansas City will have to play are the Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos (twice).
As for the remaining opponents, they are all winnable games. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders may have swept the Chiefs in 2012—and the Chiefs lost to the Browns and Bills as well—but with a new coach and a solid ground game, Kansas City gives itself a chance.
Provided the defense improves at stopping the run as well, Andy Reid's new team possesses winning-record potential next season.
Worst Case: Chiefs Finish 5-11
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Even if Kansas City fails to reach .500, it will finish better than 2-14.
For one, Andy Reid is too good of a coach for that kind of record. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles went 4-12 this season with Reid as their head coach, but they also went through an abundance of key injuries and actually fumbled more than Kansas City.
Second, the most winnable games that Chiefs fans can have confidence in are against the Chargers and Raiders, who they should be able to split their respective season series with. Thereafter, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are rightfully expected victories as well.
San Diego and Oakland regressed in 2012, just like Kansas City. Jacksonville and Tennessee are even worse defensively and are not on a Jamaal Charles rushing level with regards to consistency.
Other realistic wins will come against the Eagles and/or Dallas Cowboys. Philly continues to underachieve in every facet, and Dallas is vulnerable against the run.
In terms of how the Chiefs' 2013 campaign can really finish, it will revolve around Charles' production.
Best Case: Jamaal Charles Accounts for 2,000 Total Yards
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In 2010, Jamaal Charles compiled 1,935 total yards, and the Chiefs finished 10-6.
Along with the production and record, Kansas City won the AFC West and hosted the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round.
Although the Chiefs lost to Baltimore in that game, Charles' impact proved that he could carry this offense. Interestingly enough, despite Charles missing basically all of 2011, the Chiefs were still in the postseason hunt without their best player.
Upon his return this season, Kansas City had every reason to expect a better season. Unfortunately, Charles didn't get any help elsewhere, and the Chiefs suffered. With Reid's play-calling in 2013, though, Charles is once again capable of impressive numbers.
One big difference will be in the form of Charles getting more opportunities to catch the ball, as Reid has utilized running backs such as Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy for screens and checkdowns in the past.
Charles possesses that same ability and will once again be the main weapon in Kansas City's offense.
Worst Case: Jamaal Charles Accounts for Fewer Than 1,000 Total Yards
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The flip side to Jamaal Charles remaining Kansas City's impact player is that defenses will be keying in on him.
Opponents can easily stack the box and play man coverage to isolate Charles, which would then force Kansas City into more passing situations.
This is what defenses must do against the Chiefs anyway, because the passing game was atrocious throughout 2012. Also, when you include Andy Reid using a balanced passing attack, Charles won't receive as many carries on early downs either.
Regardless of who is quarterbacking the Chiefs in 2013, no defense will respect their passing game until it is actually thwarted downfield. Unless Reid gets Kansas City to occasionally stretch defenses and get defensive backs on their heels, Charles' production could get completely shut down next season.
Best Case: Chiefs Select Geno Smith at No. 1 Overall and He Produces
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Anytime a franchise takes a quarterback at No. 1 overall, it is, without question, a substantial risk.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who went No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the 2012 draft, are turning out to be the exceptions to the rule.
The Chiefs can definitely hit it big with West Virginia's Geno Smith if they decide to take him with the first pick, though, because he is this draft's best quarterback. Considering that the West Virginia Mountaineers were ranked No. 10 in passing offense while averaging nearly 40 points per game, Smith's high-powered attack is what Kansas City needs.
Smith brings a strong arm, solid mobility and great accuracy to the position, because he finished with 42 touchdowns to only six picks with a 71.2 completion percentage. Plus, in only one game (against Kansas State) did Smith throw more picks than touchdowns.
His consistency is impressive, and getting 11.5 yards per completion will get defenses to sink more into coverage. As a result, Charles will face fewer defenders in the box, and the Chiefs will develop some offensive balance.
Worst Case: Chiefs Lose Years from Geno Smith Not Developing
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Time and time again, we've seen a quarterback taken as the No. 1 overall selection and flop during the early stages of his career.
Guys such as JaMarcus Russell, David Carr and Tim Couch easily come to mind, as each of them face-planted in the years after being drafted.
Smith doesn't come from a pro-style offense, and he struggled in key games during 2012. The Kansas State game obviously stands out, but even against much weaker defenses such as Texas Tech and Oklahoma, Smith failed to dominate.
Against the Red Raiders, Smith completed just 53.6 percent of his passes, and West Virginia lost 49-14. Texas Tech finished as the No. 92-ranked defense, allowing an average of 31.8 points per game.
Hosting the Sooners in mid-November, Smith did throw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw two picks and completed only 57.1 percent of his passes on 35 attempts. Oklahoma ranks No. 40 in points allowed per game (24.2).
Smith's major downside is his inability to perform in big-game situations. He simply didn't lead consistently enough in 2012.
Best Case: Chiefs Trade Down in Draft to Stock Up on Picks
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Trading down and loading up on draft picks wouldn't be the worst of ideas for the Chiefs.
Just look back at the 2012 NFL draft to see how the St. Louis Rams made out well for trading back—and that was from the No. 2 spot.
Slipping back from No. 1 could get Kansas City at least two or three first-round picks after swapping first-rounders in the 2013 draft. Additionally, a second- or third-rounder in 2013 could be in the mix.
This is simply the massive value of a No. 1 overall pick.
Kansas City is in an interesting position too, because this draft is not as stellar for quarterbacks. Therefore, the trade partner is important regarding future drafts.
Ideally, the Chiefs would have to dance with a team that they feel is not going to finish 2013 with a winning record. Pulling off a trade and then getting fortunate only makes for better draft positions as the years pass.
Worst Case: Chiefs Trade Down, Miss on Geno Smith and Select Another QB
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This worst-case scenario is actually not all that bad.
Trading down and still hoping to land Geno Smith will happen in a perfect world.
Kansas City, though, is not the only NFL team in desperate need of a quarterback. The Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets are among the group in dire need of a new signal-caller.
If the Chiefs were to trade down, depending on how far back they go, they could potentially miss on Smith.
It's still not a bad situation, however. Other quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray are viable options.
Regardless, Kansas City has to select a quarterback to come in and challenge for the starting role. Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel haven't been the answer, and a fresh start at the position with a new coach will go over nicely.
Best Case: Chiefs Average 21 Points Per Game
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Kansas City lost 14 games because the offense mustered an average of just 13.2 points per game, which was good for dead last in the league.
That's not ever going to get it done in the NFL, especially in a pass-happy league.
At some point, the offense must begin to help out the defense. Andy Reid brings the offensive mindset to produce more consistently; his Eagles averaged 354 total yards per contest, which ranked No. 15 overall.
Had Philadelphia not turned the rock over so many times, the Eagles certainly would have scored more often. The Chiefs, on the contrary, ranked No. 24 in total offense, and if it weren't for Jamaal Charles, Kansas City may not have scored all season.
Combine the elements of what potential is added via the draft, and Reid's best hope for the offense is 21 points per game. Will that result in a bunch of wins? No, but it is an improvement.
With a solid ground game in place, Reid's play-calling will feature more balance and won't generate as many turnovers. Philly constantly saw fumbles because Michael Vick simply tried to do too much; hopefully that will not happen with Kansas City's quarterback.
Worst Case: Chiefs Average 14 Points Per Game
The 2012 season could not have been much worse for Kansas City's offense.
From the lack of red zone efficiency to the turnovers and paltry third-down conversion rate, the fact that they were still able to average 13.2 points per game is actually rather surprising.
Not once did Kansas City score over 30 points, and only four times did the Chiefs score 20 or more points in a game. Andy Reid will easily get Kansas City to an average of 14 per game, though.
The worst of it comes from red-zone scoring percentage (27 percent), which was by far the lowest in the league. Factor in an offensive coach like Reid, Jamaal Charles' potential impact on the ground and a prospective rookie quarterback, and the Chiefs will marginally improve—at the very least.
Include a schedule that features vulnerable defenses such as the Raiders, Chargers, Browns, Jaguars, Titans, Eagles and Bills, and 2013 will be better. The next step is maintaining balance and ball control because Kansas City possesses a distinct competitive advantage with its rushing attack.
Properly building around that will result in increased efficiency for more points and, more importantly, more wins.