JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Andy Reid and Gus Bradley shook hands near midfield, exchanged a few words and then headed off the field — in opposite directions.
Figuratively and literally.
Reid and Bradley had vastly different debuts with their new teams Sunday.
Alex Smith threw two early touchdown passes, Kansas City’s defense dominated all day and the Chiefs handled the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-2.
It was Kansas City’s most lopsided season-opening victory in 50 years, a perfect start to the Reid era. It was the worst opener in Jacksonville’s 19 seasons — a clear indication of how far the team has to go under Bradley.
“You want to win every game you possibly can in the National Football League,” said Reid, who spent the previous 14 years in Philadelphia. “That’s what you strive for. You work so stinking hard for every week and then you cherish it.”
Here are five reasons Kansas City and Jacksonville ended up on opposite ends of a one-sided game:
1. CHIEFS CAUSE CHAOS: Kansas City’s defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage Sunday, sacking Blaine Gabbert six times and shutting down running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Linebacker Justin Houston had three sacks. Nose tackle Dontari Poe, who abused veteran center Brad Meester, had 1½ sacks and six tackles. Tyson Jackson had a sack, and safety Eric Berry had half a sack.
If that wasn’t enough, linebacker Tamba Hali brushed aside Luke Joeckel’s weak block attempt in the fourth and picked off Gabbert for a 10-yard score.
“We could see this coming with our defense,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We want to put something on film and let everyone see that the Chiefs defense is for real. We’ve got to do that every weekend, week in and week out.”
2. SMITH’S DEBUT: The Chiefs may have solved their quarterback quandary with Alex Smith. Although Kansas City failed to score on its final seven drives and Smith’s longest pass was a 26-yarder to fullback Anthony Sherman, the former 49ers starter was good in the red zone and even better at protecting the football.
Smith completed 21 of 34 passes for 173 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a sack. He also ran four times for 25 yards. His QB rating was 94.4, more than three times better than Gabbert’s.
The Chiefs had just eight TD passes in 2012, so he’s a significant upgrade.
3. WOEFUL JAGUARS: Oh, the Jaguars. Between the 178 yards of offense, the six sacks, the five dropped passes and the two trips past midfield, there’s not a lot of positives coach Gus Bradley can take from the season opener.
First-round draft pick Joeckel struggled, as did the interior of the offensive line. Jones-Drew gained just 45 yards. Just about everyone dropped a pass. And Gabbert, already playing with a hairline fracture in his right thumb, ended the game by needing 15 stitches after whacking his right hand on a defender’s facemask.
If not for 82 yards on the final drive, the Jaguars would have finished with fewer than 100 yards for the first time in franchise history.
4. CHARLES IS FINE: Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles finished with 100 yards of total offense (77 rushing, 23 receiving) despite playing just one down in the fourth quarter.
Charles injured his quadriceps in the third when he got sandwiched on a tackle between Jaguars linebackers Geno Hayes and Paul Posluszny. Team trainers looked at Charles on the sideline, and then the AFC’s leading rusher from last season got on a stationary bike for a few minutes before jogging into the locker room for further tests. He returned for two carries, but then left the game for good.
“It was a quad and you don’t mess with those,” Reid said. “I think he’s going to be OK. He did a nice job. He gives us great versatility there. He ran the ball hard. I thought he played good football.”
5. DEFENSIVE HOPE: The Jaguars have one thing to feel good about — despite giving up two early touchdowns on short fields, the team’s revamped defense contained the Chiefs for much of the day. Kansas City failed to score on its final seven possessions, and its longest drive of the game was 57 yards.
The Jaguars had two rookies in the secondary and several newcomers on the defensive side of the ball, but none of them was exposed against the Chiefs. It could be something for Bradley to build on.
“Sometimes it takes time to find out our identity,” Bradley said. “I know as a staff we’re going to dig deep to find out the things that we do best and we’ll emphasize those.”
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