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Chiefs installing more complex offensive system

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | 8:07 p.m. CDT
New coach Andy Reid has taken several steps to revamp the Chiefs offense. "We're messing around with a little bit of everything," Reid said after a recent practice.

KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Chiefs are putting together an offense that promises to be bold and dynamic, if not downright revolutionary, a blend of old and new under coach Andy Reid.

At least, that's what it looks like on paper.

Reid ran a version of the West Coast offense for years in Philadelphia, and the assumption is it will serve as the foundation for everything else in Kansas City. But already, the Chiefs are stacking plenty of wrinkles on top of it in what seems to be a more complex scheme.

For one thing, the Chiefs have hired former Vikings coach Brad Childress to be their "spread game analyst," and he'll be charged with helping to implement elements of the spread offense that has been sweeping through the NFL the past few years.

Then there was the recent news that Chris Ault, the longtime Nevada coach, had been hired as a consultant by the Chiefs. Ault has already visited their practice facility once to talk about the "pistol" offense that he helped to pioneer, and that the 49ers used successfully last season with quarterback Colin Kaepernick — one of Ault's former players.

"We're messing around with a little bit of everything," Reid said after a recent practice, as the Chiefs try to learn all the moving parts during voluntary offseason workouts.

It hasn't been easy, of course.

New quarterback Alex Smith has more than once turned around after a play to query his new coach about something that went awry. Wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin have been trying to learn their place in the system, along with running back Jamaal Charles.

"We're progressing, one day at a time," Bowe said. "Only time will tell."

Several players have given glimpses into what the offense aims to achieve.

Bowe thinks the Chiefs will throw the ball downfield more often than last season, when then-coordinator Brian Daboll implemented a system for Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn that almost seemed to hamstring the quarterbacks into throwing dump-offs and short crossing routes.

"I'm going to tire a lot of cornerbacks out," Bowe said with conviction, "because we're going hurry-up offense every day, practicing full speed, fast, and that's something that's going to catch a lot of defenses off guard."

Charles said that he plans to line up at wide receiver once in a while, and catch the ball out of the backfield more — things that Reid did with former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.

"We've got a lot of plays on there that you've got to learn and study every day," said Charles, who caught 35 passes for 236 yards last season. "Basically there is some install every day, so we just have to really study."

Backup quarterback Chase Daniel acknowledged that the offense has been taxing to learn, especially for quarterbacks, who have to know where everybody is on the field along with being able to make the proper reads and deliver the ball to the right spot.

"It reminds me a little of my Mizzou offense," said Daniel, who began his career in New Orleans and signed with the Chiefs as a free agent. "Nobody knows who's going to get the ball. We have five viable options on the field on any play."

While predictions on how successful it will be have been hard to come by — Bowe did say he expects to lead the NFL in receptions and Charles in rushing yards — one thing is almost certain: The new-look offense won't be much worse than the Chiefs' offense last season.

They finished last in the league in scoring at just over 13 points per game, last in passing offense at fewer than 170 yards, and in the bottom half of the league in yards and first downs.

"Every offense tries to be multi-faceted and give as many problems as they can to a defense," Smith said. "To a certain extent, throwing them all at us right away and being able to take them and run with them — that's what every offense is trying to do, and we're no different."


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