Chiefs Mailbag: Larger Role for Jason Avant?

Answering questions from Chiefs Kingdom

You asked, I answer:

James from Blue Springs: Will Jason Avant become a larger part of the Chiefs offense further down the road?

Considering Avant caught two passes in his first game, which came only a few days after signing with the Chiefs, it's hard to think we won't see more of him during these final four games of the regular season.

Also, as receiver Junior Hemingway continues to miss practice as he deals with a concussion, Avant, who spent the majority of his time with coach Reid in Philadelphia in the slot, should get more looks for that reason as well.

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K Jax from Kansas City: What are we missing in our O-line and D-line for Alex Smith to get sacked six times and for us to let Denver get over 150 yards in rushing?

I believe it was Marty Schottenheimer who used the phrase, "The other guys are on scholarship too."

Coach Reid will always point to execution as what needs to be better, but in all honesty, sometimes you just get beat and that's what happened last Sunday. The Broncos were the better team that night.

There's not always an easy to answer to why a team struggles in a certain area because the more you learn about the game, the more you realize that there is so much more that goes into it than meets the untrained eye.

Each sack is its own play and the issues aren't the same for each of them. Alex Smith took responsibility for hanging in the pocket in situations he should have left earlier, and each offensive lineman took responsibility for getting beat by his guy on a given play or not recognizing something fast enough.

But credit has to be given to the other side as well.

When considering Justin Houston's NFL-leading 14 sacks, sometimes he just beat his guy, and you can't discount that any more than you can for an opposing team making a play against the Chiefs as well.   

Aaron from Salt Lake City: Is it not in the Chiefs' offensive game plan to throw the ball deep?

Generally speaking, Andy Reid's offense is not a vertical passing offense.

The West Coast Offense is built upon stretching a defense horizontally with shallow crosses, scissor and out-breaking, inward-breaking routes. Most of the passing yards come via yards after the catch rather than the ball traveling through the air.

Alex Smith is risk-averse and that's not a bad thing. In the four games he's thrown interceptions, the Chiefs have lost three of them. You can take that stat and make it fit just about any narrative you want, but the fact is when Smith takes care of the ball, the Chiefs have a better chance at winning.

Sometimes that means not making that 50-50 throw down the field, and when the offense was leading the team to seven wins in eight games, there weren't many complaints about the offense's passing game.

The Chiefs need to be successful at whatever it is they determine is their strength on offense, and for Smith, that's proven to be converting third downs and not give an opposing offense a shorter field by attempting a pass that could result in a turnover.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 13 matchup against the Denver Broncos

Ron from Roeland Park: What is the single most important matchup on Sunday?

The Chiefs need to keep Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell from creating negative plays for the offense.

Campbell is big, fast and athletic. He can make a difference in this game and whether it's through the screen game or end-around or ghost-action with De'Anthony Thomas, the Chiefs will need to find a way to slow him down if they can.

Jeff from Harrisburg: I find myself somewhere between thinking the Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound (after Seattle game) & the sky is falling (after Denver) ... How many of the Chiefs problems the last two games are long-term issues?

"We will find out on Sunday" is the easy answer.

But the Chiefs team that beat the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks is the same team that lost the last two games to the Raiders and Broncos. It's just the swings of the NFL and sometimes you get beat.

The good news for fans is the team never got that down earlier in the season when many people had written them off, and then they never got too high after they went off for five straight victories. It's an even-keeled, veteran team who knows it controls its playoff chances, and that's what really matters at this point. To say something is a long-term issue, or unfixable, is to discount improvement or development from younger players, which the Chiefs have proven to be able to do this season.

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