3 steps to success: Chiefs need answers from Alex Smith


After finishing with the worst record in the league last year, there is once again hope in Kansas City.

There wasn't a more disappointing team in the NFL last season than the Kansas City Chiefs.

After being pegged by many pundits to win the AFC West, the Chiefs won exactly two games and watched a nightmare of a season turn tragic with the suicide of Jovan Belcher after he murdered his girlfriend.

Once the campaign came to a close, owner Clark Hunt completely overhauled the franchise by firing head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. Hunt moved quickly to replace both, adding Andy Reid and John Dorsey to fill the roles, respectively.

After making those moves, four-year starter Matt Cassel was released and replaced by Alex Smith, who was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick following a concussion.

Dorsey then hit the free-agent market, signing corners Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, defensive end Mike DeVito, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and backup quarterback Chase Daniel while only losing Glenn Dorsey (no relation).

So what will constitute a successful season for the Chiefs in 2013? Let's dive in.

3 Steps To Success

1. Alex Smith needs to be above-average
Over the past two seasons, Smith has quietly been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league. Since Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco, Smith became very accurate with a 70.2 completion percentage in 2012 and led the 49ers to an NFC Championship Game in 2011. Smith needs to continue playing like this for Kansas City, and not the first five years of his career in San Francisco.

2. Sean Smith must be solid
Last year, the Chiefs tried to replace Brandon Carr with Stanford Routt. Needless to say, that was a disaster. Routt was released mid-season. Kansas City has a very good secondary with Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers. If Smith is good, it will be very tough to throw against Kansas City.

3. Winning road games
Outside of the AFC West, the Chiefs play the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars on the road. Kansas City needs to have a winning record away from home if it wants a playoff berth. Looking only at the rosters of the respective teams, only the Denver Broncos and Washington can hang with the Chiefs.

3 Feats Toward Failure

1. Blowing easy home games
Kansas City has the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns coming into Arrowhead Stadium. These are three games that the Chiefs can't lose. Kansas City finished 1-7 last year in a venue known as one of the toughest places to play in sports. If things are going to turn around, the Chiefs have to win the easy ones.

2. Andy Reid can't forget about running the ball
Jamaal Charles is arguably the best running back in football not named Adrian Peterson, and he needs to be treated as such. Charles was lost in the game plan in 2012 by one of the worst coaching staffs of all time. In five games last season, Charles had 12 carries or less.

3. Dwayne Bowe can't get injured
In football, everybody is a health risk. However the Chiefs can't afford for Bowe to miss anymore than a game or two. Kansas City has some depth, but the wide receiver position is thin with Jon Baldwin and Avery as the second and third receivers.

Ultimate answer

This season will be a success if the Chiefs make the playoffs and win a game. Despite having a 2-14 record last year, Kansas City is a very talented team on paper in a weak conference.

Only the New England Patriots and Broncos seem like surefire playoff teams. Plenty more squads are awful in the AFC. The Chiefs haven't won a postseason game since 1993. It's time to break that streak for the Arrowhead faithful.

Kansas City has players on the roster who can make a difference. The key is utilizing that talent to its optimum ability. Andy Reid has a history of doing that despite his past two seasons in Philadelphia.

All things considered, the Chiefs need to make a large, but reasonable jump in 2013.

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