KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0 for the first time since 2010 after Thursday night’s 26-16 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, but this run feels much different from three seasons ago.
The 2010 season masked the front office deficiencies that would rear its head before general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid arrived.
This time around there’s a sense of pride, which was virtually dormant during the previous regime.
There’s a sense of stability.
But more importantly, there’s a sense of belief.
The players have clearly bought into the new regime’s philosophies and the adoration from a loyal fan base will once again shower One Arrowhead Drive.
Through three games, the Chiefs are winning with an elite defense, playing mistake-free football on offense with no turnovers compared to a minus-8 at this point in 2012 and receiving clutch play in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Chiefs have shortcomings, especially on offense.
The offensive line is a rising concern as quarterback Alex Smith has been sacked 10 times, including five on Thursday night.
Additionally, the offense showed an inability to take advantage of turnovers against the Eagles or to punch it in inside the red zone. The Chiefs had three first-half possessions in the red zone against the Eagles, but settled on field goals.
“If we’re any better with the way our defense was playing, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was,” Smith told reporters during his postgame media session. “It’s certainly something we need to get better at. We had a lot of opportunities down there early. We just got to capitalize at least a couple times and it’s certainly an area for improvement for us.”
Still, the offensive flaws are fixable.
And if there’s anything learned the last two weeks, the Chiefs offense can always lean on running back Jamaal Charles to close out a game.
The Chiefs have a 10-day break, virtually a mini bye week, to address weaknesses before hosting the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 29. From what is known of the Chiefs coaching staff and given Reid’s reputation, the areas of concern will certainly be addressed.
Just how long the Chiefs can sustain the early season momentum remains to be seen.
The upcoming opponents – as pointed out on Twitter by Joel Thorman of ArrowheadPride.com – suggest it may last until the Chiefs’ Week 10 bye.
4 of next 5 are at home for Chiefs: Giants, at Titans, Raiders, Texans, Browns.
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 20, 2013
That’s an exploitable schedule on paper and the largest obstacle is a Week Seven game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.
But in the meantime, Chiefs fans should bask in the joy noting that 75.4 percent of teams starting 3-0 make the playoffs.
Believing is powerful, after all.
Notable postgame statistics, as released by the Chiefs:
• The Chiefs have previously started a season 3-0 seven times in franchise history (1962, 1966, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2003 and 2010), earning trips to the playoffs in six of those seven seasons.
• Linebacker Justin Houston enjoyed a single-game career high 3.5 sacks against the Eagles, giving him 6 ½ sacks for the season and 22 for his career. The third-year pro is the third-fastest player in franchise history to reach 20 sacks to start their career since sacks became an official stat in 1982. Houston reached the 20-sack mark in 35 career games to trail Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas (25) and defensive end Jared Allen (30).
[UPDATE: The NFL on Friday changed Houston’s sack total from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2, giving him 7 1/2 on the season.]
NFL has changed LB Justin Houston’s sack total from last night. Now 4.5 sacks (-28.0 yds) for last night’s game. 7.5 (-55.0 yds) for season.
— ChiefsCommunications (@ChiefsPR) September 20, 2013
• Safety Eric Berry’s pick-6 is his second-career interception return for a touchdown. He now has six career interceptions.
• Wide receiver Donnie Avery led all Chiefs receivers with seven catches for 141 yards against the Eagles. It’s his fourth-career 100-yard effort and the first 100-yard receiving game for the Chiefs through three games.
• Kicker Ryan Succop celebrated his 27th birthday on Thursday night by converting four-of-five field goals (33, 31, 34, 38), crossing into triple digits for career field goals made with 102. He currently ranks third in team history behind Nick Lowery (329) and Jan Stenerud (279). Succop on his career has converted 102-of-126 career field goals (81 percent), tops in franchise history.
• The Chiefs notched four defensive takeaways and five total takeaways, including a special teams fumble recovery. The four defensive takeaways pushed the season total through three games to eight, which established a team record for most defensive takeaways in the month of September.
• Through Week Three, the Chiefs have yet to commit a turnover, owning a plus-9 turnover differential. In each of the team’s first three contests, the Chiefs have owned at least a plus-2 turnover differential. In the last 20 seasons, when Kansas City is positive in turnover differential, the team is 104-39 (.727).
• Punter Dustin Colquitt booted five punts for 218 yards (43.6 gross, 40.8 net) against the Eagles, placing three inside the 20-yard line. Entering Week 3, Colquitt led the NFL with 10 punts inside the 20-yard line and now has 13 for the season. He has 263 career punts inside the 20 for the franchise record.
• Quarterback Alex Smith becomes the first Chiefs quarterback to win his first three starts with the franchise since Joe Montana won his first four starts in 1993. Len Dawson (1962) and Mike Livingston (1969) also accomplished the feat, earning victories in their first three starts.
• Running back Jamaal Charles recorded 20 rushes and seven receptions against the Eagles, giving him 1,006 career attempts from scrimmage (rushes and receptions). Charles moved past running back Abner Haynes (993 attempts) for sixth place in team history and is the sixth Chiefs player to accumulate more than 1,000 career attempts from scrimmage.
• The Chiefs held a 39:07 to 20:53 advantage over the Eagles.
• Cornerback Sean Smith recorded his first interception as a Chief. It’s the sixth of his career.
• Safety Quintin Demps averaged 46.5 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 57-yard return to start the game.
• Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins recorded his first-career reception on Thursday night.
• Tight end Sean McGrath established a single-game career high with four catches for 31 yards. The yardage matched his single-game career high, which he also accomplished in Week Two against the Cowboys.
• Running back Cyrus Gray notched his first special teams fumble recovery on a muffed punt at Philadelphia’s 8-yard line.