After a conservative win over the Jets this weekend, the Chiefs are 5-3 (where I expected them to be) and would currently make the playoffs if the season ended today. Their slow start to the season is all but forgotten at this point as Andy Reid has adjusted his game plan each week to maximize his players’ strengths. It is time to take a look at some midseason grades for the team, starting with the offense. I will post defensive grades later this week.
QB: Alex Smith has performed as expected, playing conservative and generally mistake-free football. He has thrown 11 touchdowns (16th best in the NFL) and only 4 interceptions. His QB rating (94.8) is 13th best in the NFL. He only averages 212 yards per game, and his longest completion is only 34 yards but he has been very consistent and is on pace to set the record for highest completion rate ever for a Chiefs QB, especially after he set the franchise record for completion % in one game (86.7%, versus St. Louis). His is currently on pace to set a new career high for total passing yards, and he has 162 rushing yards that have kept several drives alive, and which ranks #6 for QB’s in the NFL. The only thing he could do better is reduce the number of sacks he takes and throw some touchdowns to his wide receivers, both of which involve other factors out of his control. Grade: A-
RB: Despite getting fewer touches this season than was expected, Jamaal Charles is still having a nice season, with 7 total touchdowns and 435 rushing yards. He averages 62.1 rush yards per game, which would be the third lowest of his career. Charles is now the leading rusher in franchise history, having passed Priest Holmes’s 6,070 yards when the Chiefs played in San Diego a few weeks ago. Knile Davis has proven to be a capable backup, with 410 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. In limited action this season, rookie De’Anthony Thomas has 48 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards with 1 touchdown. Grade: A
Fullback: Anthony Sherman is bringing back the days of Kimble Anders and Tony Richardson when the Chiefs always had fullbacks paving the way for their running backs. Sherman only has 2 rushes for 8 yards and 5 catches for 49 yards and 1 touchdown, but more importantly, he has been a bodyguard and safety net for Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith. Sherman consistently ranks as one of the better run blocking fullbacks in the NFL with a great pair of hands for catching the ball. Grade: A
WR: Dwayne Bowe is having a better season than last year, with 398 yards on 31 receptions, but those numbers are below his career averages. Donnie Avery did not produce much before being injured, AJ Jenkins only has 66 receiving yards on 8 catches, Junior Hemingway has 98 yards on 10 catches, and perhaps more importantly, none of the wide receivers have caught a touchdown. The Chiefs’ receivers have the third most dropped passes in the NFL. They have a lot of room to improve in the second half of the season. Grade: D+
TE: Travis Kelce has emerged as a big-play threat (32 catches for 419 yards and 4 touchdowns) and Anthony Fasano is having a quiet but solid year with 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the now famous “Butt Touchdown” against the Jets. Both are good at blocking and their production has helped the Chiefs offense immensely this season. Grade: A
Offensive line: Pro Football Focus has ranked the Chiefs O-line at #30 in the NFL, ahead of only the Bills and Chargers. Losing 3 starters from last year’s team has seemed to be almost too much to overcome for this unit, who are the youngest in the NFL based on average age. Center Rodney Hudson has been the best player and Eric Fisher has been the worst. The unit is beginning to see some signs of consistency now that they have played several games together. Overall, they have allowed 19 sacks, which ranks in the middle of the NFL. However, 13 of those sacks came in the first 4 games of the season. They have plenty of room to get better and develop more consistency in the second half. Grade: C-
What do you think of the 2014 Chiefs so far? Have they earned their grades, and will they improve in the second half of the season?