Chiefs Offense Finds Its Groove in Win Over Titans

Led by QB Alex Smith, the Chiefs offense exploded during their 34-10 win on Friday night

They were like a well-oiled machine on Friday night.

The Kansas City Chiefs offense found success through the air, on the ground and the two guys working under center didn't even get hit.

That's a recipe for a successful evening.

"The bottom line was we executed," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "I think you take that and you build on it, and when things are working right, that's the way it should operate."

The Chiefs offense was fully operational against the Tennessee Titans defense, racking up 432 yards of total offense with an average of 7.9 yards per play.

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One of the reasons the offense may have looked different on Friday was because of the preparation throughout the week leading up to the game.

For the first time this preseason, the Chiefs prepared as if it were a regular season week, at least as much as the NFL will allow.

They watched film of their opponent and repped against the defensive looks they'd see in the game. From a play-calling standpoint, they weren't necessarily trying to force something that wasn't there just to try and get a proper evaluation, which is different than the past two games.

"This was probably more of what we kind of do," Reid said. "Those other two games, we were just trying to force a ball down the field. There were some things I wanted to look at there.

"In the second game, we forced a screen game in because I wanted to make sure we got a look at that with the new linemen. This was a little bit more of kind of the rhythm that we play and the plays that we run."

So when the team treated the week like they will when the regular season begins, the offense executed and performed at a level that all Chiefs fans would appreciate.

Alex Smith finished the game 16 of 18 for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

After the game, Smith admitted that the normal, regular season-like week of preparation made him more comfortable as the plays were called.  

"Just having physically repped the plays versus the different looks helps," Smith said. "Then you spend a week watching film, so you're much more prepared with the plays that are called."

One of Smith's best attributes is his cerebral approach to the game, which, for the first time this preseason, was allowed to manifest itself with plays on the field against looks he was comfortable with, all because he had the opportunity to rep against them throughout the week.

Smith's favorite target on Friday night was receiver Jeremy Maclin, who finished the game with seven receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.

The 29-yard touchdown strike from Smith to Maclin to finish off the first offensive drive was simply a thing of beauty.

It was third-and-5 from the 29-yard line and Smith rolled out to his left off the snap. With a guy in his face, he delivered a perfect pass to Maclin on the outside.

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"It was good coverage and I had to kind of pull up and do a bit of a jump throw there," Smith said after the game. "I've talked about, especially, with the defenders backs turned, I feel good with [Maclin].

"He's so competitive with the ball in the air. He's always one of those guys you feel good letting it go. Worst case scenario – it's an incomplete pass."

It was a trust in Maclin that allowed Smith the comfort to let that ball go before Maclin had even made his break to get open on the outside.

Maclin spoke after the game about Smith.

"For starters, he's talented," Maclin noted. "Obviously, that's what it takes to play in this league at a very high level – which he does. Number two, he's a very intelligent person. When you combine those two things, plus my ability to be able to talk to him, and vice versa, it makes everything a lot easier.

"We have everything we need to do the things we need to achieve this year. It all starts with the guy behind the center. We have all the faith in the world in him."

When Smith wasn't under center on Friday night, it was second-year quarterback Aaron Murray's turn to run the offense, which got off to a shaky start as his third pass resulted in an interception.

"I was way too juiced up," Murray said after the game about the interception, which was the result of him trying to do a little too much. "Had to calm down a little bit. I came to the sideline and the guys were like, 'Don't worry about it.'

"I'm like, 'Hey, I'm fine. I got it out of my system, I'm ready to rock and roll now.'"

Murray bounced back in a big way, as he completed 14 of his next 19 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to receiver Fred Williams.

"I thought he did a great job bouncing back to make some really nice plays," Smith said of Murray.

Murray's best play of the night might have come on his 29-yard touchdown pass to Williams in the fourth quarter, during which he escaped out of the pocket to the right as the Titans brought six on the blitz.

Photos from the Chiefs third preseason game against the Titans

He bought some time with his legs and then found a streaking Williams down the right sideline with a perfectly placed ball that landed right in stride with Williams in the end zone.

"It was fun," Murray said. "I just have to keep building on it, keep working, go back and watch the film. Definitely still have a lot to work on."

But the most encouraging sign of the night may have come from the guys up front, who didn't allow either Smith or Murray to get hit once during the game.

"I thought they were a positive today," Reid said of the offensive line. "Quarterbacks stayed upright and the running game was working, so those are positive things. I thought they had good communication, I mean, you're going against a Dick LeBeau defense, a [Ray] Horton defense—those are two creative minds right there.

"They were bringing a few people, and I thought our guys handled it pretty well."

The Chiefs averaged 6.8 yards per rush, completed 82 percent of their passes and converted 80 percent of their third downs on Friday night. This well-oiled machine looks ready for that Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 13.

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