There's nothing subtle about Chiefs' desire for more big-pass plays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If Andy Reid was trying to send a message, he wasn't being very subtle about it.

On the first play from scrimmage for each of the top three quarterbacks in Friday night's preseason opener, the Kansas City Chiefs tried for a big-pass play with a throw down the field.

"It's tough to drive the whole length of the field," Reid said. "The way the kickers are kicking now, you're normally not getting out there too far.

"The opportunity to strike is, I think, a big thing. We can do better than we did last year."

The Chiefs were 19th in the NFL in pass plays of 20 yards or more last season, with 46. A respectable number, but not where the Chiefs want to be.

So Reid had starting quarterback Alex Smith go down the field for Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs' first play in Friday night's 27-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He had Tyler Bray go deep down the right sideline for Chris Conley on his initial snap after replacing Smith. He had rookie Patrick Mahomes II throw downfield for Demarcus Robinson on the opening play of his NFL career.

The Chiefs completed all three passes: 32 yards from Smith to Hill, 83 from Bray to Conley, 41 from Mahomes to Robinson.

The latter two plays were wiped out by Chiefs penalties. No matter. Reid had made his point.

He actually wanted to try the deep ball again on the first play with fourth-string quarterback Joel Stave in the game. But the Chiefs got out of the play because of something they saw in the 49ers' defense.

"I'm trying to give everyone an opportunity, so we start them off with a similar play so they all had that chance to take it down the field and give it a shot," Reid said. "I've done that in the past. You try to get an equal evaluation. We don't have a ton of plays in for these games. We don't spend a lot of time game planning at all. I wanted to give them a chance to get it down the field, let them have that opportunity.

"Plus, it allows you to kind of evaluate the receivers and the tight ends."

Reid had reason to like the execution on all of the plays, even the ones called back by penalties. The throws were on target and the receivers made good catches.

"The guys did a nice job of throwing and giving the guy a chance to make the catch," Reid said. "Alex had a little right-side pressure or that thing probably would have been brought in a little further, and [Hill] might have had a chance to score there, too.

For the Chiefs to get a larger share of big-pass plays, Smith has to try them more often. He had 42 passes last season that went at least 20 yards in the air beyond the line of scrimmage. Only one quarterback who played in at least 15 games, as Smith did, had fewer downfield tries.

But Smith wasn't bad when he did try. He completed 38.1 percent of such throws, which was 15th in the league.

"I just got a good look at it," Smith said of his throw to Hill. "I felt good about it, taking a shot downfield. This was not a game plan. We were just running base stuff and trying to execute our fundamentals.”