Dec 8, 2013, 6:32 AM EDT
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 8, the day the Washington Redskins host the Kansas City Chiefs.
Do the Chiefs give a blueprint?
A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were just about where the Redskins are now. At 2-10 after 12 games, they had been eliminated from realistic playoff contention for quite some time. They lost their last four games to finish 2-14.
With Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn sharing the quarterback duties—the each had a 1-7 record as a starter), the Chifs scored 211 points (13.2/game), last in the NFL and 39 fewer points than the next-worst team.
The defense had four members selected to the Pro Bowl but it wasn’t much better than the offense. They allowed 425 points, (26.6/game), 26th in the league.
If you do the math you’ll see that Kansas City was outscored by a margin of more than two to one. That cost head coach Romeo Crennel his job after just one full season in charge (he was the interim coach there for the last three games in 2011).
Andy Reid was hired and things are very much looking up with the Chiefs at 9-3 and close to wrapping up a playoff spot. There were no wholesale lineup changes. The most important change came with Alex Smith at quarterback. The Cassel-Quinn duo threw 8 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. Smith’s TD-INT is 16-6.
With just a few new starters on defense, the Chiefs have flipped the script under coordinator Bob Sutton. They have gone from 20th to fourth in yards allowed and from 25th to fourth in points allowed.
I’m sure you can see the point here. A team does not necessarily need a massive infusion of new talent in order to turn its record around. A key fix here and there can do wonders for team chemistry and results on the scoreboard.
A new head coach is not a necessity for dramatic improvement; the Lions have gone from 4-12 last year to 7-5 by staying steady under head coach Jim Schwartz. But others like Reid’s old team the Eagles have found regime change to be a very positive action.
We also see other teams that were hoping to build on 2012 playoff success struggling this season. One of those teams, the Texans, has already moved on from Gary Kubiak. The Falcons are unlikely to get rid of Mike Smith, who took them to the NFC title game last year. We don’t know about the ultimate fate of Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings made the postseason at 10-6 last year but are now struggling at 3-8-1.
Mike Shanahan may survive the Redskins’ rocky season. He may not. But either way the team does not necessarily face a massive, lengthy rebuilding project. Washington fans need look no further than the sideline opposite the Redskins’ today for proof.
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