Reid familiar with Ware**
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has gotten to see OLB DeMarcus Ware's talents perhaps more than he would have liked throughout his career, with Ware amassing 19 sacks against Reid-coached teams. Save for two years in 2012 and 2013, Ware has been a divisional opponent of Reid's since he was drafted in 2005.
It goes without saying that Reid is familiar with Ware, and knows the impressive impact he can have on a game.
"I've played against him for a lot of years and he's played as well as I've seen him play," Reid said. "It looks like he's getting better with age, and he was pretty good to start with."
The Broncos defense put on a dominant showing in Week 1 against the Ravens, with Ware at the forefront in bringing disruptive pressure. Pro Football Focus clocked him at seven quarterback hurries and three QB hits to go with his one sack that stopped the Ravens on a third down. All told, the Ravens mustered just 100 net passing yards on an average passing gain of 2.9 yards.
"That defense is fast and well coached," Reid said. "I think when it's all said and done, they'll be one of the better defenses in the National Football League when we get to the end of the year."
A week after getting the best of the Texans and their talented defensive front, quarterback Alex Smith is looking forward to getting another great test in Week 2 against Denver.
"This week it's right there, again: another really, really good front," Smith said. "These guys (in) Week 1 were certainly impressive from just a defensive standpoint just suffocating across the board, but I think it started up front with those guys and just getting after the pass and stopping the run, putting Baltimore in continuous bad third downs and it was a long day for them. So we'll have our hands full again and it's another good test. Any time you've got two edge guys like this that can get after the passer, it can be difficult at times, for sure."
An evolved offense
Much has been made of the Chiefs' wide receivers having no touchdown receptions since Jan. 4, 2014, but that is a concern for neither Smith nor their offense, which gained a weapon in WR Jeremy Maclin in free agency.
"I'll take a three-touchdown win, I don't care who we're throwing them to," Smith said of their win over Houston. "It would be nice to get it over with and done with. To be honest, I haven't given it much thought. I obviously threw Jeremy a couple during preseason and haven't given it much thought and probably won't on Thursday night. I'm just looking to throw touchdowns there and I don't care who they're to and how we're scoring as long as we are scoring."
Maclin's addition did not result in a touchdown against the Texans, but his threat in the vertical can even impact the production of everyone around him.
"We feel good about him against anybody one on one and with the guys we have on the inside, it creates a problem," Smith said. "How are you going to play us? What are you going to do? One-I, two-I, are you going to leave him one-on-one outside and really feel good about that? He's a guy that obviously, I think, as well, has the skill set to do a lot. He can move around and do different things with him and he's smart enough to handle it."
The main beneficiaries against Texas were TE Travis Kelce, who had two receiving touchdowns, and RB Jamaal Charles, who had one.
"I just think it's part of his game," Smith said of Charles' ability to impact the passing attack even when he doesn't have a great rushing game. "He's such a unique guy and he's tough to limit and put in a box. He can do so many different things and we feel like any part of a good game plan with him is trying to give him the ball in different ways because he can do it all."
Smith not thinking about external perception
Whether it's to whom he throws touchdowns or how he plays at an individual level, Smith is taking his job at a less personal level. Criticism doesn't register to him outside of the wins and losses.
"I guess I kind of feel like I'm old enough to have gotten beyond that a little bit," Smith said. "In the end I realized I've played long enough that that's what you're going to get judged by, period, and you've got to be able to go out there and find a way to get W's. And for us, that's the mindset. Maybe when I was younger I worried about that stuff a little more but for me now, that's definitely the focus."
Earlier in his career, Smith felt the pressure of being a first-overall draft pick in San Francisco in 2005. But the benefit of time and getting older has provided wisdom to cut out external noise about the player he should try to be.
"I did play a lot in my younger years when I was trying to prove to people and prove to them on a throw and my play that I could do it and justify my draft status and stuff like that, and it wasn't a fun way to play," Smith said.
Winning is a fun way to play, however, and Smith has his eyes set on helping the Chiefs do that more often in 2015.
"I think for us the one thing is win the division," Smith said of their goal this year. "That's the focus, right? You've got to punch your ticket to the dance and the quickest way is to win the division and for us, here we are: We've got a chance against the (four-time) division champions at our place, so it starts with this week."