Enemy Intel: Chiefs

Enemy Intel: Chiefs
July 18, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Eyes on Richmond: How healthy is RG3?

Over the past four months, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2013 schedule. 

We’ve tracked their free agent signings. We’ve examined their drafts. Now, in our final edition of Enemy Intel, we’re taking a look at three storylines that will dominate each team’s preseason.

Up today …

Opponent/Week: Chiefs/14 

2012 record: 2-14

Key acquisitions: QB Alex Smith, CB Sean Smith, CB Dunta Robinson, TE Anthony Fasano, WR Donnie Avery, DE Mike DeVito, OG Geoff Schwartz, FB Antony Sherman, LB Akeem Jordan, S Husain Abdullah

Draft picks: OT Eric Fisher, TE Travis Kelce, RB Knile Davis, LB Nico Johnson, CB Sanders Commings

Storyline No. 1: After last season’s debacle, few teams were as active this offseason as the Chiefs, a talented but underachieving outfit that was in dire need of a jolt.

Well, they got one. The most significant additions were, of course, quarterback Alex Smith and coach Andy Reid.

Smith, acquired from the 49ers via trade after being displaced by Colin Kaepernick, isn’t a franchise quarterback. But the 29-year-old represents an improvement over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn.

Reid, meantime, had simply reached his expiration date in Philly after 14 mostly successful seasons there. He's one of the NFL’s most respected coaches and, if his track record is any indication, he'll get the Chiefs headed in the right direction sooner rather than later.

Smith and Reid can't turn things around all by themselves. But add them to a team that features Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tackles Branden Albert and Eric Fisher and you’ve got an offense that’s certainly capable of producing more than the league-worst 13.2 points per game it averaged a year ago. 

Storyline No. 2: Will the Chiefs incorporate the pistol offense in their playbook? Perhaps.

In May, the team hired former Nevada coach Chris Ault, the godfather of the scheme the Redskins, Seahawks and 49ers used with great success in 2012.

Smith was exposed to the pistol in San Francisco last season. Meantime, Charles played in the pistol alongside quarterback Tyler Thigpen in 2008 when Chan Gailey was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. Both Smith and Charles have said they’re excited about the possibilities.

“I see Frank Gore had success with [the pistol] with the 49ers,” Charles said on NFL Network last month. “If he can have success, I hope I can have success as well.”

It’s unclear to what extent Reid plans to implement the pistol, but it’s becoming clear that it’s going to be in the playbook.

Storyline No. 3: While the Chiefs' offense was historically bad last season, the defense was just plain bad. The unit ranked 25th in points yielded per game (26.6) and 20th in average yards allowed (356.5).

The changes began up front, where defensive end Mike DeVito should aid a run defense that ranked 27th last season. The former Jet graded out as the 10th best 3-4 end in 2012, according to ProFootballFocus.com’s rankings.

GM John Dorsey also bolstered his secondary by adding Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to a cornerback lineup that already features standout Brandon Flowers. A year ago, the Chiefs surrendered 29 passing touchdowns. Only five teams (including the Redskins) allowed more, but that number should decrease in '13.

How it all fits together remains to be seen. But, on paper, the Chiefs are a much-improved team – and the Redskins would be wise to approach them as such.