Here are some thoughts and observations from the Chiefs’ loss to the Packers.
1. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Can the Chiefs win the big one with Alex Smith?
Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith will always be linked, because Smith went 23 spots higher than Rodgers did in the 2005 NFL Draft. And yes, with the two sharing the same field Monday, it was probably tough for Chiefs fans to watch Rodgers — a bona fide, elite Super Bowl-winning quarterback — play the position the way he does, zipping passes all over the field. Smith has some positive qualities, but if the Chiefs are ever going to make a deep playoff run with him, he’ll have to deliver some of the plays in the playoffs that Rodgers consistently made Monday. Whether or not you think he will depends on your confidence in Andy Reid’s playcalling, and Monday’s effort didn’t do much to buoy that kind of optimism. Speaking of Reid...
2. Why did the offense struggle so much on Monday?
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He got out-coached. Period. The execution wasn’t great, either. Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers is one of the best in the league, and to the naked eye, he seemed to get a bead on all the Chiefs’ passing stuff in the first half. Even Reid’s packaged plays — which featured some of the zone-read stuff the Seahawks tortured Green Bay with a week ago — didn’t really work. The Chiefs’ running game managed to get some stuff going, but without a passing game to speak of, it didn’t even matter.
3. Well, the good news is that Sean Smith returns this week, right?
Yessir. The return of Smith will be huge, especially with the Chiefs scheduled to face Cincinnati this week. The Bengals boast one of the league’s best receivers in A.J. Green, whose combination of size (6-4, 207), speed (4.5 40-yard dash) and ball skills make him one of the league’s toughest matchups. The trio of Smith, Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines was actually pretty promising, at least until Gaines’ knee injury Monday. Smith and Peters will need to show their wares against the league’s second-ranked passing offense this week, but look for the Bengals — like the Broncos and Packers — to try to exploit the Chiefs’ third corner, whether it’s Jamell Fleming or Marcus Cooper.
4. Any idea what the Chiefs will do to create room on the roster for Smith?
Remember, the Chiefs placed Smith on the reserve/suspended list at the 53-man roster cutdown in early September, which means he is not a part of the 53-man roster. That means someone will need to be released, traded or placed on injured reserve to create a roster spot for him. One area to keep an eye on is tight end, where the Chiefs are currently carrying four players, which is a bit of an abnormality in the NFL. Someone could always go on IR, depending on who got hurt Monday, but if Reid truly values his tight end depth, someone else — perhaps a defensive back — could get cut.
5. So where does this leave the Chiefs heading into their next road test against Cincinnati?
Not in a great place, though they showed some fight late. The Bengals are good. Like, really good. At 3-0, they are also coming off a nice victory against Baltimore, their AFC North rivals. What’s more, the Bengals have been to the playoffs four years in a row. Bottom line, that’s a quality team, and going into Cincinnati and winning will not be easy. Especially with their backs now against the wall.