AFC West: Andy Reid

The Kansas City Chiefs didn't select quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia in the fifth round of the NFL draft because they fear losing starter Alex Smith to free agency next year. The sides still have 10 months left to reach a deal and if Smith winds up hitting the free-agent market his successor is probably going to be someone else and not Murray.

That doesn't make the drafting of Murray, the first of a quarterback by the Chiefs with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their coach, any less intriguing. That Murray doesn't have classic size (the Chiefs list him at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds) and a huge arm suggests Dorsey and Reid believe Murray can succeed in the NFL without those qualities.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/Mike StewartFor Chiefs GM John Dorsey, there's one trait about former Georgia QB Aaron Murray that stands out. "He's a winner," Dorsey said.
Dorsey and Reid have a history of drafting and developing quarterbacks in previous jobs, Dorsey with the Green Bay Packers and Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. When they like a quarterback, it's probably wise to listen. That alone makes Murray worth a fifth-round draft pick.

“He’s a winner," Dorsey said. "He’s been a winner at every stage that he’s played between high school and college. [He’s] ultracompetitive and smart. What I like about him is when there are big drives to be made late in the game, this guy made those drives. He didn’t always win them, but he made those big drives at the end when it really counted. If you want to put some statistics in there, he’s got multiple records in the SEC, which is as good a conference as there is in today’s football. He performed at a very high level.”

If winning was all the Chiefs wanted from their quarterback, they would have drafted Alabama's AJ McCarron instead. McCarron was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals the pick after Murray.

Murray has a little more to him.

“His accuracy is the No. 1 thing,'' Chiefs assistant scouting director Dom Green said. "I want to say he’s [completed] 67 percent on all of his throws throughout his whole career.’’

Murray actually completed slightly better than 62 percent of his passes at Georgia. But Murray's ball finds its target far more frequently than it does for a lot of quarterbacks of his size.

“Most of the shorter quarterbacks have a lot of batted balls and that type of thing but I didn’t see that with Aaron," Green said. "He did a nice job hitting the lanes and getting the ball to receivers."

In explaining the reasons for that, Murray already sounded like an NFL veteran.

“All quarterbacks, you have to be able to move around the pocket, you have to be able to find those throwing lanes," Murray said. "It’s just working drills, working footwork, being able to stay active in the pocket. It’s also knowing where you need to go [with the ball]. When you know where you need to go as a quarterback based on the coverage and what the defense is giving you, you will put your body in position to make an accurate throw and find those open receivers."

Murray tore his ACL late last season and is still in the rehab stage of his recovery. He said he's been cleared for full participation in two weeks when the Chiefs start offseason practice with a three-day rookie camp. Dorsey is more cautious and said it may not be until training camp until Murray is fully unleashed.

Either way, this is a player worth watching. The Chiefs and Murray could be the right mix, something even the rookie quarterback already understands.

“It’s a great fit," Murray said. "I’m not complaining one bit. It’s an incredible fit. They do a heck of a job preparing quarterbacks."
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A wrap-up of the Kansas City Chiefs' draft. Click here for a full list of Chiefs draftees.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriThe addition of De'Anthony Thomas should help out the Chiefs offense, as well as special teams.
Best move: Though they had only six picks, the Chiefs covered a lot of ground. They selected a pass-rusher, a cornerback, a combination slot receiver/running back/kick returner, a quarterback and two developmental offensive linemen. Not all were immediate needs, but the potential is there for the Chiefs to get a lot from this class. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, a fourth-round pick, might represent the best value. The Chiefs will plug him into the spots on offense and special teams vacated by the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Thomas has world-class speed and will be given opportunities to play as a slot receiver and kick-return specialist.

Riskiest move: Despite having one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season, the Chiefs added nobody at the position, Thomas excepted. The Chiefs will search for help in free agency before they get to training camp in late July, but they might not be able to find a receiver who gives them more than what they already have on the roster. The Chiefs might come to regret passing on the chance to get USC receiver Marqise Lee in the first round or Mississippi's Donte Moncrief in the third. Thomas could help as a slot receiver, but on the outside, the Chiefs need improvement from a group that includes Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins.

Most surprising move: The selection of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the fifth round qualifies, given the Chiefs already gave up their second-round choice for a quarterback, starter Alex Smith, in last year's trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs also appeared set at quarterback with Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel and developmental prospect Tyler Bray. But the Chiefs couldn't resist Murray, whose senior season was ended early by a torn ACL. At about 6-foot and 200 pounds, Murray doesn't have classic size for an NFL quarterback or a huge arm, but the Chiefs think he has the necessary skills to thrive in coach Andy Reid's offense. Murray does a nice job of finding available passing lanes despite his size. He has also been an accurate passer. Murray says he has been cleared to practice when the Chiefs get on the field later this month. That sets up an interesting battle for available roster spots at quarterback. Bray is the most likely candidate to be crowded off the roster, but if the Chiefs believe he or Murray is advanced enough to be their backup, a trade market could develop for Daniel.

File it away: First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford of Auburn will become the second-best pass-rusher to emerge from this year's draft behind only Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick. The Chiefs have Pro Bowlers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to start at Ford's position, so he has time to develop his skills in pass coverage and against the run. He can focus immediately on his pass-rush skills, and the Chiefs need to find ways to get all three players on the field at the same time. Kansas City's pass rush was on pace at midseason to set an NFL record for sacks. It tailed off badly the second half of the season, but Ford's presence should help revive their pass rush.
Auburn's Dee Ford, the first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, appears a little undersized for an outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. Ford is slightly over 6-foot-2 and weighed in at the scouting combine in February at 252 pounds. That's smaller than either of Kansas City's two starting outside linebackers, Tamba Hali (6-3, 275) and Justin Houston (6-3, 258).

That obviously didn't bother the Chiefs.

“I’m not sure how much weight he really needs to add,'' coach Andy Reid said. "I think he’s pretty good just the way he is. Normally you see these guys, especially in those positions, over the first two or three years, put on about 10 pounds. I’m not necessarily saying he needs to do that . . . 252 pounds, that’s a pretty healthy outside linebacker. He’s good against the run and the pass.

"The thing that I think is one of his strengths is the way he uses his arms and his hands. He sets those nice and tight. He’s got a great stab move, which is important for a pass rusher. He needs to transfer it over to this level, as all the rookies do. He’s got work ahead of him to do that.''

Ford missed much of the 2011 season at Auburn after having back surgery. He missed two games early last season with a sprained knee but the Chiefs were also confident in his medicals.

“We checked with [trainer Rick Burkholder] and our docs and they felt good about it,'' Reid said. "He had a pretty good season this past year, so we feel pretty good about that.”
Jamaal CharlesPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesJamaal Charles has 5,823 rushing yards in six seasons, and is yearning to add to that total in 2014.
Recently, shortly before he was named the Kansas City Chiefs' Most Valuable Player for the fourth time in five seasons, Jamaal Charles sent a message on his Twitter account that left no doubt he is preparing for more.

"I miss coming out the tunnel," Charles wrote, referring to the Chiefs' path to the playing field at Arrowhead Stadium. "So ready for next season."

Charles looked ready for the season as he accepted his award at a Kansas City hotel. He sounded mainly as if he would be just killing time before the Chiefs gather again in April for the start of their offseason program.

"It hurt me not playing that last game of the season," Charles said, referring to the concussion that forced him out in the first quarter of the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. "I'm so excited to be able to get back. I can't wait to run down that tunnel one more time. Just having a coach like Andy Reid helping me out, advancing my career as a player and putting me in great positions ... I never thought I could score as many touchdowns as I did last year."

Charles led the NFL with 19 total touchdowns, three more than the next highest player. The Chiefs relied on him like never before and he responded by leading them in not only rushing but receiving, as well.

That he proclaimed himself ready in March for another big workload is encouraging for the Chiefs, but how much can Charles have left? He won't turn 28 until late December but will be heading into his seventh season in 2014. At 200 pounds, he doesn't appear built for such a heavy workload year in and year out.

Charles isn't concerned about his own football mortality, though no player ever is until the end is upon him. He also said he felt playing in Reid's offense will extend his career.

"[Reid's offense] puts me in space where I can catch the ball out of the backfield and make a move, make somebody miss," said Charles, who sometime early next season should pass Priest Holmes as the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher. "He wasn't always trying to get somebody to get a big hit on me.

"I have at least five [more] years in me. I'll know when my time is up. I'm 27 years old. Probably when I'm 32 I'll just want to look back to see what I've done. I'm having a great career so far and putting up great numbers. As long as I continue to do those things in my five years, it would be amazing. I'd look back and call it quits."

To the extent they can be, the Chiefs are concerned about the end coming for Charles sooner rather than later. Kansas City drafted Knile Davis in the third round last year. He's a raw prospect, and the Chiefs knew they could give him some time to develop.

Davis' rookie season was uneven. It began with him running the wrong plays and frequently fumbling. It ended with Davis having made significant improvement and earning more of Reid's trust. But then Davis broke his leg in the playoff game.

The Chiefs believe Davis will be ready for full duty when next season begins and Reid indicated he plans to use Davis more and Charles less.

The dilemma? While Davis, who at 227 pounds is much bigger than Charles and perhaps just as fast, is a big-play threat, he's not yet in Charles' class in that regard. Every time Reid removes Charles from the lineup, he will wonder whether that was the play on which Charles would have taken the ball the distance.

"That's what you have to weigh as a coach," Reid said. "You have to make sure you give him enough opportunities where he can show his greatness but at the same time make sure that he makes it all the way through the season and the championship game and the Super Bowl."

It's a difficult line for a coach to draw, the one between preserving a very important asset and trying to win a game. Many times, particularly when a team is in a close game, the future can wait.

"You have a player who wants the football," Reid said of Charles. "He loves playing the game, and you have a coach who kind of likes giving it to him."
His acquisition may get lost publicly in the coming months as the Kansas City Chiefs go through free agency and the draft, but their recent signing of receiver Weston Dressler could wind up as one of their most significant offseason acquisitions.

Dressler caught 442 passes for more than 6,000 yards and scored 43 touchdowns in his six seasons for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He’s small but quick and his skills were enough to intrigue the Chiefs and coach Andy Reid.

“I remember when he came out [of college],’’ Reid said recently. “He was the best player there and the MVP of his team and the league and all that stuff. Then he goes to Canada [and he’s a good player]. I had a chance to watch his tape. He transferred from the college level to the Canadian League and it didn’t look like there was a big dropoff. So you give him an opportunity here. He had plenty of opportunities to go other places and go back to Canada. He wanted to be here and he wanted this experience.’’

The obvious comparison for Dressler is Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs’ slot receiver the past few seasons. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Dressler is of similar size to McCluster, who is a potential unrestricted free agent.

Dressler, who signed a three-year contract with the Chiefs for the NFL minimum salaries, is insurance in case the Chiefs don’t re-sign McCluster. But if they do?

“They’re similar,’’ Reid said. “If you told me I could have two Dexter McClusters, that would be a good thing. I wouldn’t mind that at all.’’

Q and A: Should KC draft a QB?

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
Another week, another excellent batch of Kansas City Chiefs questions for the mailbag. Here we go:
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid answered some questions from reporters Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. One of the topics was the possibility of reducing the workload on running back Jamaal Charles.

Reid indicated the Chiefs intended to do that by playing Knile Davis more than they did last season, when he was a rookie. In the regular season the Chiefs gave the ball to Davis 81 times between pass receptions and handoffs. More than half of those touches came in the season’s final four games after Davis became more comfortable with the NFL and the things the Chiefs asked him to do.

“As we went on, we were able to do that with Knile," Reid said. “Knile was a rookie and he was learning every week and getting better every week. As the season went on we were able to give him the ball a little bit more. Coming into this season, we’ll be able to mix it up a little bit better than what we did early in the season last year."

Davis broke his leg in the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but the Chiefs believe he will be ready for full participation when the regular season begins. If Davis is back to full strength, Reid’s idea is a good one.

Davis isn’t Charles and probably never will be, but he can still be a productive player. At 227 pounds, Davis is bigger and more powerful than Charles, but he’s also fast. He’s one place the Chiefs can reasonably expect to grow their offense with players still on the roster. He had a fumbling problem in college at Arkansas, and again at times last season, and he’ll have to prove he’s over it before Reid can put this plan into play.

Charles led the Chiefs in rushing and pass receiving, and showed no signs as the season progressed of breaking down because of the wear and tear. But that will happen to him soon if the Chiefs aren’t careful. Charles is only 200 pounds and touched the ball almost 650 times over the past two seasons.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If recently signed wide receiver Weston Dressler doesn't impress the Kansas City Chiefs with his play during the offseason, training camp and the preseason, they can release Dressler at no cost.

The three-year contract signed by Dressler is worth $1.53 million but contains no bonuses. The salaries are the minimum each year: $420,000 in 2014, $510,000 in 2015, $600,000 in 2016.

So there's no risk to the Chiefs in at least taking a look at Dressler. The Chiefs are hopeful they will get significant production from the 28-year-old Dressler, a six-year veteran with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders. Dressler caught 70 passes and scored nine touchdowns last year. But they're certainly not tied to him if he's a bust.

Still, his signing is an interesting one as it relates to Dexter McCluster, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. There wouldn't appear to be roster room for two diminutive players with similar skill sets. The best one plays slot receiver and returns kicks. The other does nothing.

So maybe the Dressler signing is just insurance in case re-signing McCluster gets too expensive for the Chiefs. McCluster didn't deliver a lot on offense last season, his first playing for Andy Reid. But Reid liked McCluster going back to his time as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and was eager to work with him as last year started.

Did he see so little from McCluster that he changed his mind? We'll find out as we get closer to the start of free agency next month.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs went 0-3 Saturday night when it comes to NFL awards. Not only was former offensive lineman Will Shields not selected for the Hall of Fame, but Andy Reid failed to win coach of the year, and Jamaal Charles is not the offensive player of the year.

I've made my thoughts clear on Shields. Perhaps his time will come next year.

As spectacular as Charles was this season, it's difficult to argue that he deserved offensive player of the year more than Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, so that one isn't a surprise. By the way, Charles finished third in the voting. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was second.

That leaves Reid, who finished second to Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers. This season had a few strong candidates: Reid, Rivera, Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

Reid and Rivera were the strongest of candidates. I get the arguments for Rivera. He is a worthy choice. Tough call, but I went for Reid, and here's why:

No doubt there was more to like about Carolina's body of work this season. The Panthers won their division. Kansas City was 10-0 against non-playoff teams and 1-5 against teams that made the postseason. But I still believe the Chiefs traveled a longer distance. Reid did more than help the Chiefs win games. He helped change what had been the miserable, rotten culture that permeated the entire organization. When he walked in the door, the Chiefs were infested with people who pulled in different directions and were out for themselves. He got everybody to believe in the greater good. He was able to get a lot of players to put aside personal goals for those of the team.

So Reid and Shields were the real losers in the group.
Ron Rivera and Andy ReidUSA TODAY SportsRon Rivera and Andy Reid are both deserving of coach of the year -- but only one can win.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid are among the favorites to win the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award on Saturday.

Rivera took a Carolina team that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2008 from a 1-3 start to a 12-4 regular-season record and the NFC South title. Reid took a Kansas City team that had the worst record (2-14) in the NFL in 2012 to an 11-5 record and second place in the AFC West.

Both lost in the playoffs, Carolina 23-10 in an NFC divisional game against San Francisco and Kansas City 45-44 to Indianapolis in a wild-card game.

Rivera and Reid are in New York City, where on Saturday night the NFL will salute the best of the 2013 season with "NFL Honors" at Radio City Music Hall.

New England's Bill Belichick and Philadelphia's Chip Kelly also are under consideration for Coach of the Year. NFL Nation Panthers reporter David Newton and Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher are here to tell you why it's a two-man race:

Adam, first of all, do you agree this should come down to Rivera or Reid?

Teicher:Those are the two strongest candidates. Some others deserve consideration. Think it was a strong year in this regard. Mike McCoy in San Diego, Bill Belichick in New England and Chip Kelly in Philadelphia did a nice job as well. But when you boil it down, Reid and Rivera are the two best candidates. The Chiefs had too much talent in 2012 to win just two games, so maybe this speaks to what a lousy job their previous coaching staff did. The Chiefs weren't just bad when Reid walked through the door. They had been blown out in most of their games in 2012. They didn't have many narrow losses. I know how far the Panthers have come as well. They were so bad in 2012 that they were one of the two teams to lose to the Chiefs.

Which way would you go with your vote?

Newton: I could see it going either way, but I'd have to say Rivera. The Panthers started 0-2 and then 1-3. There was speculation there could be a coaching change before the bye week if they went to 0-3. It's tough enough to turn around a team that is used to winning. Rivera did it four games into the season with a team that hadn't had a winning record in five years. Winning eight straight and 11 of the final 12 regular season games -- including back-to-back wins against San Francisco and New England -- was impressive. That the Panthers really had to win all those games to win the division and even make the playoffs with New Orleans, San Francisco and Arizona breathing down their backs for the final two spots is a testament to the work ethic Rivera instilled. That he didn't panic or make changes to what he was doing when the season was on the brink made the turnaround possible. That the players fought for him when he didn't have a track record for winning -- as Reid did -- also speaks volumes.

So who do you think deserves it more?

Teicher: It's a tough call. No doubt there's more to like about Carolina's body of work this season. Kansas City was 10-0 against non-playoff teams and 1-5 against teams that made the postseason. But I still believe the Chiefs travelled a longer distance. Reid did more than help the Chiefs win games. He helped change what had been the miserable, rotten culture that permeated the entire organization. When he walked in the door, the Chiefs were infested with people who pulled in different directions and were out for themselves. He got everybody to believe in the greater good. He was able to get a lot of players to put aside personal goals for those of the team. That's a long-winded way of saying I would vote for Reid.

Having said all this, it seems every year this award goes to a coach whose team has an amazing turnaround. Do you think it's unfair to coaches like Belichick that win all the time?

Newton: Miserable? Infested? Rotten? You trying to make me change my vote? The culture wasn't that bad at Carolina, but the losing was and Kansas City had more talent to start with, which again sways me back to Rivera. But to the question, I agree coaches like Belichick get overlooked because they do such a good job every year. I compare it to Dean Smith when he was the basketball coach at North Carolina. It took him 16 years to finally win the national coach of the year award even though year in and year out he had one of the best programs in the country. People overlook the obvious. Belichick doesn't get the credit because people see he has Tom Brady and forget how he meshes sometimes average players into a playoff team. Having said that, I'd still vote for Rivera this year.

Note: Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is up for Defensive Player of the Year and outside linebacker Thomas Davis is up for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles is up for the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

NFLN survey/popular coach: Chiefs

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid received 22 votes and finished tied for fifth place with Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots as the head coach players would most like to work for in ESPN's NFL Nation Confidential survey.

A lot of Chiefs seem to enjoy playing for Reid, who is known to be straightforward with his players. He also allows them to show some personality.

Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks was the runaway winner of the survey. Each of the top nine coaches in the survey is a veteran, and all but Carroll and Rex Ryan of the New York Jets have coached in a Super Bowl. Carroll, of course, will take the Seahawks into this year’s Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid is a deserving choice as AFC coach of the year, as selected Wednesday by Kansas City's committee of 101.

The AFC has other worthy candidates, including Bill Belichick of New England and Mike McCoy of San Diego. And the way the Kansas City Chiefs finished the season -- with a 2-6 record and by blowing a 28-point, third-quarter lead in the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts -- was troubling.

But in the bigger picture, Reid was the best candidate. The Chiefs were 2-14 in 2012 and then won 11 games in their first season under Reid.

Other 101 award winners: Carolina's Ron Rivera as NFC coach of the year, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning as AFC offensive player, Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis as AFC defensive player, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy as NFC offensive player and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly as NFC defensive player.

Reid and the other award winners will be honored at the annual 101 Banquet on March 1 in Kansas City.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's looking like the Kansas City Chiefs will bring back their coaching staff from 2013 largely intact for next season. The Chiefs lost assistant special teams coach Kevin O'Dea to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will be the special teams coordinator.

O'Dea worked with kicker Ryan Succop and punter Dustin Colquitt. Both players are veterans and can survive without O'Dea.

There could be another defection or two but Andy Reid won't be making any changes on his own. Though it's tempting to look at how the season ended for the defense and want to make some changes involving coordinator Bob Sutton or other assistants, the Chiefs need to stay the course there.

They're trying to build something for the long term here and while the way the Chiefs finished the season on defense was disappointing, they can benefit from continuity on the coaching staff. This was just Season 1 of the Reid era and the expectation is that things will get better next season and beyond.

If it doesn't, that's a better time for Reid to shuffle the staff. But this is a time for cooler heads to prevail and it's a good thing Reid isn't acting emotionally.

"The one advantage I have is I'm with these guys all day every day," Reid said this week on Kansas City radio station 810 WHB this week. "I get to evaluate them every day and watch them work every day.

"Do we need to improve? Absolutely. We've got to get better, starting with me. We're not shooting for just making the playoffs. We're trying to be the best."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This fact surely won't escape Andy Reid and his coaching staff as they do their autopsy of the Kansas City Chiefs' 2013 season. It better not, because figuring it out could hold the key to their 2014 season.

Here it is: The Chiefs were 11-0 against quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert, Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell, Jeff Tuel, Robert Griffin III and Matt McGloin. They were 0-6 against Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck.

There's no shame in losing to those guys if you don't lose to them all the time. But an 0-6 record against those quarterbacks, all of whom are still playing this weekend, says a lot about where the Chiefs are right now.

They're good enough to get to the playoffs, but not good enough to do anything once they get there.

Go ahead, if you want, and toss out one of the San Diego games, the woulda-shoulda-coulda game at the end of the regular season when the Chiefs sat many of their starters. Even counting that game, the Chiefs turned four of those games into high-scoring affairs, scoring 38 and 24 against the Chargers, 28 against the Broncos in Kansas City and 44 against the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.

They got the job done in none of those games. The Chiefs have far too many good defensive players to lose games when they're scoring like that, no matter the opposing quarterback.

Something stinks here and it isn't easy to trace the smell. It is too simple to blame defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. This thing has to run deeper than that.

But it's incumbent on Reid, Sutton and rest of the staff to figure it out. The menu of quarterbacks on Kansas City's schedule next year includes Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Rivers and Peyton Manning twice each.

If they can't beat any of those quarterbacks next season, the Chiefs will be sitting out the postseason.
Justin HoustonDavid Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCTJustin Houston and the Chiefs are out of the playoffs after blowing a 28-point lead to the Colts.
INDIANAPOLIS -- If there was ever any doubt, there can be none now. The Kansas City Chiefs, who already owned the market on postseason heartbreak, heaped even more misery on their long-suffering fans Saturday, displaying a new way to lose.

Their defense, the one that carried them to a 9-0 start, collapsed in epic fashion in the second half Saturday in a wild-card playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs held a 28-point lead early in the third quarter, and the defense, the one that created so much havoc early in the season, couldn’t hold on.

The 45-44 playoff loss to the Colts was as devastating as any for a franchise steeped in playoff disappointment. If the Chiefs couldn’t hold on with a defense that once strangled opposing offenses, will Kansas City ever win a playoff game?

To do that, the Chiefs will have to bring a defense far better than the one that allowed 372 yards and 35 points to Andrew Luck and the Colts in the second half.

“Sometimes, the game speaks for itself," coach Andy Reid said. “You don’t have to say a whole lot."

He didn’t have to. Reid's defense, a unit that once was on a record pace for sacks and didn't allow more than 17 points in the season’s first nine games, now owns a dubious place in NFL playoff history.

Only the 1992 Houston Oilers wasted a bigger lead than the Chiefs' 28 points in a playoff game, squandering a 35-3 advantage to lose 41-38 in overtime to the Buffalo Bills in a wild-card game.

“It’s hard to put into words, to lose a game we clearly had control over," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “This doesn’t come around much.

“We had the game won big-time. We’ll take that, 31-10 at halftime, any day. You've got to pull it off. We didn't pull it off."

It’s tempting to say everything the Chiefs accomplished over the first half of the season was a fluke, but that’s too easy. The Chiefs played against plenty of struggling quarterbacks early in the season and their achievements were impressive, no matter the competition.

Just as real were their defensive failures against some of the league’s better quarterbacks, such as Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Luck. The competition picked up and the Chiefs couldn’t keep up.

Now they have to live with the second-biggest playoff collapse in NFL history, plus the fact that they scored 44 points in a postseason game and still found a way to lose.

“It’s hard to comprehend right now," defensive end Mike DeVito said. “There was so much, so fast. All we can do right now is feel disappointed. As we go, we’ll realize more about what happened."

The Chiefs’ playoff losing streak now stands at eight games and 20 years. Kansas City hasn't won a playoff game since 1994, when Joe Montana and Marcus Allen led the Chiefs past the Oilers at the Astrodome.

During that eight-game playoff losing streak, Kansas City lost to the Colts following the 1995 season by missing three field goals.

The Chiefs also lost to Denver after the 1997 season in a titanic struggle between what were probably the NFL’s two best teams.

They lost to Indianapolis again after the 2003 season, when they couldn’t make the Colts punt.

Going back to 1971, the Chiefs lost in overtime to the Miami Dolphins in an epic battle on Christmas Day. Jan Stenerud, who later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, missed three field goal attempts.

All of those games were bitter disappointments. But never had the Chiefs failed to hold a four-touchdown lead.

The Chiefs should have known how Saturday's game might turn out early in the fourth quarter when safety Eric Berry pried the ball away from Colts running back Donald Brown at the Kansas City 2. The ball bounced off the helmet of a Colts lineman and to Luck, who recovered the fumble and dove into the end zone for the touchdown that cut Kansas City’s lead to 41-38.

They should have known how this playoff game might turn out when their offensive engine, Jamaal Charles, left the game for good with a concussion in the first quarter. Still, they managed 44 points, which should have been more than enough to secure a victory.

The loss of Charles was never bigger than on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Colts left backup running back Cyrus Gray open down the right sideline, but quarterback Alex Smith, in a rare mistake, overthrew Gray.

“Anytime you get an opportunity like that, you expect to hit it," Smith said. “The tough part is that all week with so many reps, and obviously with Jamaal getting all of those, it’s something we never [practiced] with Cyrus. But you’ve still got to hit it, though. You don’t get many opportunities like that."

As with any game decided by one point, the Chiefs will have a large selection of plays they can pick through to torture themselves with by playing the what-if game.

Thanks to a shoddy defense, they’ll now have months to ponder all of them.