Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida
By ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Last updated 9/8/13
Game time: 1 p.m. ET, Sept. 8 TV: CBS Andy Reid and Alex Smith each proved that previous success means little in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, but the Kansas City Chiefs are banking on them to help usher in a bright future for a franchise that has missed the playoffs five of the last six seasons. The excitement is tempered for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are more focused on basic improvement after undergoing an overhaul of their own. Reid and Smith make their regular-season debuts for Kansas City, which visits a Jacksonville team unsure if quarterback Blaine Gabbert will be healthy enough to start the opener Sunday. After nine postseason berths, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in his previous 13 years, Reid was let go by Philadelphia after a disappointing 4-12 campaign in 2012. He wasn't out of work long, though, as Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt hired Reid in early January. "I sincerely mean this he's having more fun," said new general manager John Dorsey, hired about a week after Reid to replace Scott Pioli. "I see a more vibrant person. I see Andy, the coach I used to know." Two months later, Dorsey, who served with Reid on Green Bay's coaching staff in the 1990s, traded a second-round pick and a 2014 conditional draft choice to San Francisco to bring in Smith as the team's new quarterback. After nine starts last season, Smith led the NFL with a 70.0 completion percentage and ranked third with a 104.1 passer rating before suffering a concussion, paving the way for Colin Kaepernick to take over. Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and suddenly Smith became expendable. "Listen, I thought (coach) Jim (Harbaugh) did a nice job with (Smith) out in San Francisco," Reid said. "But here, everybody's on board. I'm asking him to do a ton of things and he's handling it." That's good news for a team coming off a 2-14 season that tied the 2008 squad for the worst in franchise history. Kansas City selected Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick to help protect Smith as it looks to improve on its league-worst 13.2 points per game from 2012. "I think every team in the NFL has positive expectations right now, every single one," Smith said. "It's a fresh start. It's a new beginning for everybody. It's what team is going to put in the work and take the steps necessary to get better?" Not every rebuilding team, though, has six returning Pro Bowlers like the Chiefs 1,500-yard rusher Jamaal Charles, linebackers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, safety Eric Berry and punter Dustin Colquitt. They also return star receiver Dwayne Bowe, who signed a five-year, 56 million deal to be Smith's top target. "Even though the win column last year we didn't do very good, our confidence level is up," Johnson said. "It starts from the coach down. The coach is a big representation of having that confidence, believing in his players, and Andy Reid sets a good example for us." Former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley hopes to be as strong of an influence in Jacksonville as he takes over for the fired Mike Mularkey following a franchise-worst 2-14 season. Bradley isn't focusing on a quick turnaround after new general manager David Caldwell hired him in January, but rather making sure the team simply gets better. Jacksonville selected offensive lineman Luke Joeckel out of the Texas A&M with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft as its first key to the rebuilding process. "I think when you look ahead, you forget about enjoying the process," Bradley said. "We want to compete, have our guys go hard, get better at fundamentals and techniques, but also enjoy it. And when you look ahead, sometimes you miss those things. "If we can get a guy to get to his highest level, then we win. That's how we define winning, that's how we talk about winning." The Jaguars may not experience much of it this season, though, especially with Gabbert coming off shoulder surgery and now dealing with a hairline fracture of his right thumb that could keep him from playing Sunday. Bradley named him the starter ahead of Chad Henne, who would be under center if Gabbert is unable to play. Gabbert was listed as questionable Friday despite practicing for the fourth straight day, and Bradley says he'll be a game-day decision. Gabbert says he's "getting more and more comfortable throwing the ball and we're just seeing how it feels. It's kind of finicky deal." Though second-year wide receiver Justin Blackmon will be suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, running back Maurice Jones-Drew appears to be healthy after missing the final 10 games last season due to a foot injury. Jones-Drew, who led the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing in 2011, will be looked upon to help improve an offense that ranked 29th at 299.3 yards per game last season. With Blackmon out, Cecil Shorts steps in as the top target in a receiving corps that had an NFL-worst 11.1-percent drop rate of catchable balls in 2012. Bowe caught a pair of TD passes to help the Chiefs overcome Jones Drew's 121 total yards in a 42-20 win in the last meeting Oct. 24, 2010.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

New info shows just how much Las Vegas wants Raiders

Report: Patriots, Revis have not discussed possible reunion

Reporter: Giants 'would not go near' Adrian Peterson

Popovich: Owners interfering with player rest is risky

Michael Irvin weighs in on Ezekiel Elliott's recent behavior

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Oregon headed to first Final Four in 78 years as Jordan Bell & Tyler Dorsey dominate Kansas

This is the Gonzaga we’ve been waiting for

Jets won’t rule out selecting another QB in 2017 NFL Draft

Rougned Odor threw a cup of water into Felix Hernandez’s face on the field

Michael Irvin rips Texans for not trading for Tony Romo

Richard Sherman on trade talk: ‘I just laugh it off, man’

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker