Of all the offseason coaching moves, there is no greater philosophical change than that of Andy Reid taking over in Kansas City.
Last year the Chiefs ranked fifth in the league in rushing attempts and 29th in passing attempts; Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles were 19th in rushing attempts and seventh in passing attempts, throwing the ball almost two-thirds of the time.
Here’s the rub: Reid inherits a team with significant issues at quarterback and a franchise receiver entering free agency. On the bright side, he has a couple players who could fill roles similar to those Brian Westbrook and Desean Jackson handled in Philadelphia—and the first overall selection in April’s draft.
That pick gives Reid options for building his offense, allowing the Chiefs to look hard at Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson in the draft; you may recall his first move in Philly was to draft Donovan McNabb. Reid could also pursue Matt Flynn, who has plenty of experience as a backup in the WCO.
Reid also spent big on protection for his quarterback (tackle Jon Runyan became the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman on Reid’s watch), suggesting that if the Chiefs plan to keep free agent Branden Albert at left tackle he can expect a handsome payday.
So who’s going to catch all these passes from Reid’s shiny new QB? Good question. Dwayne Bowe has ideal size to be a WCO receiver, but his price tag and attitude may send Reid back to the days when he cobbled together receiving corps in Philadelphia. Who can forget guys like Torrance Small, James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and Reggie Brown—all of whom led the Eagles in receiving yardage during Reid’s tenure?
The 2013 draft is deep with receivers, so if Bowe doesn’t return the Chiefs could add to their pass-catchers that way. But don’t overlook holdover Steve Breaston or recent signee Mardy Gilyard, who spent part of last year in Philadelphia with Reid.
But easily the two most intriguing Chiefs with Reid at the helm are Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. Both have the speed and pass-catching ability to step into the role Brian Westbrook turned into serious fantasy productivity.
Charles is the more obvious fit, a true running back with receiving skills. But if you were frustrated by his 285 carries last season, you won’t be a fan of how he’ll be used under Reid; Westbrook’s busiest rushing season saw him top out at 278 carries.
Where Charles can make that up is as a receiver, though his personal best of 45 catches pales next to the 71 Westbrook averaged over a five-year run as Philly’s feature back. And he could also lose looks in that role to McCluster, a hybrid back/wideout who handled 114 carries in 2011 when Charles missed most of the year with a knee injury and has 98 catches the past two seasons.
Finally, it’s worth noting that like many WCOs Reid’s offense has meant solid numbers for the tight end position. Brent Celek posted a pair of top-10 (among TEs) fantasy seasons in Reid’s offense; so did L.J. Smith (2005-06) and Chad Lewis (2000-01). Go ahead and pencil Tony Moeaki in as a deep sleeper right now.
Reid has worked with similar pieces before, so there’s something of a track record to draw from when projecting Charles and other members of the Chiefs. The key will be who Reid tabs as his quarterback and just how he metes out roles to Charles, McCluster, and whatever other wide receivers open 2013 on the Kansas City roster.