KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The progress of the Kansas City Chiefs offense from last year to this one can be judged by how many times head coach Andy Reid blows his whistle.
The shrill noise signifies the end of the action for each play. Last year, Reid spent a lot of time blowing his whistle before the ball was even snapped. The Chiefs struggled in the early days of learning his version of the west coast offense and at least a half-dozen times per practice, they were sent back to the huddle to regroup and run the play.
So far during the current OTA sessions, players running with the first-team offense have given Reid an opportunity to save his breath. Even the No. 2 offense and the new faces on the roster are cruising through with a minimum amount of pre-snap mental errors with alignment, movement and motion.
"Everyone is a lot further along in the playbook than we were last year at this time," fullback Anthony Sherman said. "It makes these practices so much better because everyone is on the same page and knows what to do. We are much improved from last year."
During his 15-year head coaching career, Reid always put together offensive playbooks built on the foundation of diversity, whether in the run game or the passing attack. He stays pretty true to the west coast offensive education he received as an assistant coach under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay.
The desire to reach deep into the playbook at the start of last season was tempered by the new situation and personnel that Reid found in his first year with the Chiefs. Through the first 10 games on the 2013 schedule, the Chiefs had a 9-1 record, but the offense scored just 18 touchdowns in those 10 games.
As the schedule wore on, the offense improved and in the season's final seven games (including the first-round loss in the playoffs to Indianapolis) scored 28 touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith and the offense really clicked in that postseason game against the Colts, scoring five touchdowns and giving the Chiefs a 28-point lead with 28 minutes to play. They ended up losing thanks to a collapse from the Kansas City defense.
As the 2014 offseason program began, the offensive coaching staff pushed the theme of picking up where they left off. There was no talk of going back and starting from square one. That has made installation quick and relatively painless.
"The second time around these guys really picked up right where we left off with the Indianapolis game," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "They understand what we are trying to teach and put in. We've focused on the things that we were successful with at the end of last season. They have responded really well."
They will have to respond quickly when the 2014 season begins. The Chiefs face a much tougher schedule in September and October than they did a year ago. Among their first nine opponents in 2013, only Philadelphia made the playoffs. This year among their first five foes are Denver (Sept. 14), New England (Sept. 29) and San Francisco (Oct. 5).