Notebook: Jeremy Maclin’s performance solidifies Chiefs’ balanced offensive approach

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One of the keys to the Chiefs current five-game winning streak has been the ability of head coach Andy Reid to field a balanced offense.

Nov. 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) scores a touchdown between Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) and safety Bacarri Rambo (30) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Nov. 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) scores a touchdown between Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) and safety Bacarri Rambo (30) during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

That was evident again when the Chiefs beat Buffalo 30-22 on Sunday, totaling 58 offensive snaps, which split to 27 running plays and 31 passing plays.

In the five-game winning streak, they’ve had 308 offensive snaps, split by 51 percent passing (157) and 49 percent rushing (151).

The Chiefs offense took another step forward in Sunday’s victory by pushing the ball downfield and having success, especially with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce.

In his most productive game as a member of the Chiefs, Maclin caught nine passes for 155 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown catch. He also grabbed three passes that went for more than 30 yards against the Bills, who started the game trying to cover the wide receiver with just one man.

“That’s kind of what they do,” Maclin said of Buffalo’s coverage scheme. “In the NFL we’re playing against the best of the best week-in and week-out … they started that way (one-on-one) with the coverage, but they got out of it very quickly.”

But Maclin’s ability to effect the defense paid dividends for the Chiefs offense beyond what he was able to do. Double coverage on him, opened up the field for tight end Travis Kelce, who caught four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. It also opened up the middle of the field for running back Spencer Ware, who ran 19 times for 114 yards.

“Whenever you can do everything it just opens up everything,” Maclin said. “It opens up the run game, and that opens up the underneath stuff and that’s what we want to be. We want to be a balanced football team and I think especially on a day like today (cold, wet) the sky is the limit.”

As always in football, it becomes a numbers game. If an offense is balanced and has at least two reliable receivers and a running back that can produce positive yardage, it’s going to be hard for the defense to focus on one player or area.

“You can’t double everybody,” coach Andy Reid said. “(Travis Kelce) they adjusted to him and doubled him. They were playing for him in this game on a number of occasions. You are not going to be able to double everybody … you want to make sure you have enough people out there that the defense respects.”

Through 11 games, Maclin leads the team in receiving with 57 catches for 772 yards and three touchdown receptions. What does not show up in the statistics are his other contributions to the offense, especially in attitude and blocking for the running game.

“I think whenever my number was called, it’s all about being reliable,” Maclin said. “I think that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about stats. It’s not about catches. It’s not about yards. It’s about being there when your team needs you and being reliable.”

A few items Reid touched on Monday during his meeting with the media:

— On quarterback Alex Smith’s performance against Buffalo – “I thought he did a great job; it was one of his better games all the way around. He made a couple checks in there that were beautiful and put us in good positions.”

— Status of injured guard Ben Grubbs, who missed his fourth game with an unspecified neck injury – “We are just kind of taking it day-by-day, and seeing how he does. That’s where we are with him.”

— The play of Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses filling in for the injured Justin Houston – “Frank played more than Dez did, and I think Frank did a good job. Dez is going to give you aggressive downs, that’s how he plays.”

— Zombo’s personality within the Chiefs locker room – “He’s steady Eddie. He’s got a good personality. He’s not afraid to zing anybody and everybody is free game. He can take it back in return. He’s just got a good way about him. He’s a tough guy, a tough kid.”

— Thoughts on Raiders week – “They’ve got a good ball club. Jack’s (Del Rio) done a nice job up there and I know Reggie (McKenzie) has done a nice job bringing in personnel. This will be a heck of a game. Rivalries in the NFL are kind of neat deals.

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Bob Gretz is the senior editor for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @BobGretzcom.

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