Red Zone

Chiefs’ offense reminds Lions’ defensive coordinator of past

Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West (35) used a block by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 25, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won, 23-13.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West (35) used a block by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 25, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Chiefs won, 23-13. deulitt@kcstar.com

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has never coached under Andy Reid, but when he looks at the Chiefs' offense, he sees plenty that is familiar to him.

Austin spent four years under Reid's mentor, Mike Holmgren, as a coach with the Seattle Seahawks, and he says what the Chiefs currently run is one of the purer forms of the West Coast offense — which Holmgren and his mentor, Bill Walsh, made popular — remaining in the league.

“I see a lot more of that really straight-forward, West Coast offense and the principles involved,” Austin said. “Sometimes you see the smidgens of it (elsewhere), but I think you see more of it with his offense. It's a hard offense to stop if the timing is good and the quarterback is accurate.”

Austin said the Chiefs' offense is more reliant on tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Jeremy Maclin now that it is without Jamaal Charles, who is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“I think the big thing with losing Jamaal Charles is the big-play threat out of the backfield,” Austin said. “The other guy (Charcandrick West) is a good player, but Jamaal Charles is a proven big-play threat in this league and he can take a small touch and go a long way. So to me, that would be the one thing that they're missing."

West, however, is coming off a strong effort against the Steelers in which he rushed 22 times for 110 yards and a touchdown in a 23-13 win. The play of the offensive line had a lot to do with that, as the unit improved in pass protection as well after struggling for weeks.

“Because the Steelers gave them multiple looks and a lot of different things, they got to him a few times,” Austin said. “But I think overall, their pass protection has been good and I think a lot of it is a function of their offense. They're going to make sure they get the ball out quickly, there are a lot of timing routes. They do some screens and things like that, so I think the offensive line has performed admirably and we'll have our work cut out for us."

The Chiefs’ offense ranks 21st in total offense (346.1 yards per game), while the Lions’ defense ranks 27th (392.3).

Terez A. Paylor: 816-234-4489, @TerezPaylor. Tap here to download the new Red Zone Extra app for iOS and Android devices.

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