You can’t rush Alex Smith. Actually, let’s clarify that a bit. If you’re lined up against the Kansas City Chiefs, you CAN rush Smith, which has been part of the problem. A big, steaming, incredibly smelly part.
And if you don’t believe us, check this set of digits out:
At Houston, Week 1: Five quarterback hurries allowed.
Vs. Denver, Week 2: Seven quarterback hurries allowed.
At Green Bay, Week 3: 18 quarterback hurries allowed.
At Cincinnati, Week 4: 11 quarterback hurries allowed.
Vs. Chicago, Week 5: 12 quarterback hurries allowed.
At Minnesota, Week 6: 15 quarterback hurries allowed.
Vs. Pittsburgh, Week 7: Eight quarterback hurries allowed.
So let’s see: Win, Shoulda-Been-A-Win, Ugly, More Ugly, Really Ugly, Beyond Ugly, Win.
Your 2015 Chiefs offense, post-Jamaal Charles, in half a nutshell: When No. 11 trusts — trusts the call, trusts the pocket, trusts his targets to find space — funny how it all kind of comes together. Usually.
After a 2-5 start on this side of the planet, The Andy Gang on Sunday will try to go 1-0 on another hemisphere, “hosting” the 1-6 Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium in London in a game the NFL is (probably) secretly thrilled to have out of the way before noon central time.
Which is not to say it won’t be amusing, or offer up more than a few critical questions going in. Namely:
1. Chris Conley and Albert Wilson: Was the Steelers surge a fluke, or are y’all here to stay?
2. Charcandrick West: Same query, more or less.
3. Travis Kelce: Where ya been?
4. Takeaway City: Was it Landry Jones being Landry Jones or is the Tao of Sutton getting its collective groove back?
5. Arriving late to Britain (later than the Lions, anyway): Savvy move by Andy Reid, or will the jetlag cobwebs still show come Sunday? (Probably a non-factor, but it might also be worth noting that the last eight AFC squads to play against an NFC squad in the UK are 2-6, although a third of those losses are on the shoulders of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Lions are 1-0 all-time in the NFL International Series, having beaten the Falcons at Wembley last October, 22-21.)
6. A relatively clean pocket: Can it continue? WILL it continue?
More fun with numbers: Last weekend, for the first time since that win over much-much-much worse-than-we-thought Houston in the opener, the Chiefs had only one starting offensive lineman — left tackle Eric Fisher — receive a game grade from ProFootballFocus.com worse than -1.0. And Fisher’s -2.4 was hardly a mark of shame.
After mixing and matching and patching to try and finally get the right combination on the offensive line — your winning lotto numbers against Pittsburgh: 72-66-61-76-71 — even that sliver of positive mojo got squashed a bit this week with word that veteran left guard Ben Grubbs, who reportedly had been battling a sore neck, is a scratch for Sunday’s tilt.
Doctor Death, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, had a strong enough showing against the Steelers at right guard to figure into the mix again. Ditto Jeff Allen at right tackle, although the guy’s held his own as a starting guard, too. Zach Fulton? Donald Stephenson? None of the above?
It’s not insignificant: Detroit hits the UK with a hot pass-rusher in Ezekiel Ansah (three sacks over his last four contests); the Lions’ team sack percentage of 7.14 percent ranks 10th in the NFL (Denver is first, at 10.53; the Chiefs 18th, at 5.54).
If Week 7 reminded us of anything, it’s that when 3rd down-and-more-than-6 means the only safe options are Jeremy Maclin and Kelce, defenses have a tendency to sniff things out pretty quick. But a viable third target — or fourth — gives the other guy something to think about, assuming Smith can stay upright long enough to search them out. Upright being the operative word.
And here we are, London calling. Now: Who answers?