If the Chiefs showed last Friday night that they weren’t yet up to the task of taking on a team like the Atlanta Falcons then they had be ready to show this Saturday that they are beyond a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Truth be told, the Chiefs should be expected to struggle against a team as talented as the Falcons this early in the year. To be fair, it is entirely likely that they will struggle against the San Diego Chargers in the season opener on Monday Night Football. These are superior teams with more experience players that have been playing together longer than this Chiefs outfit.
They Chiefs, because of their influx of promising young talent and coaching experience are going to be better this year.
How much better?
That is going to depend on the development of their young players and their quarterback.
That is why Saturday’s game against the Buccaneers is an excellent litmus test for the Chiefs. It will perhaps be an even better test than the 3rd preseason game against the superior Philadelphia Eagles where the starters are likely to play well in to the 3rd quarter.
The reason is because the Bucs and the Chiefs are very similar teams. They both have young quarterbacks struggling to prove themselves. They both are coming off terrible seasons that saw them finish at the bottom of the league. They are both full of young talent that must improve for the team to be successful.
In other words, this is going to be a fair fight.
A bad as the Chiefs were against the run last season, the Bucs were worse. Tampa Bay finished dead last against the run as they allowed opponents to average 158.2 yards a game on the ground. The Chiefs figure to be one of the better running teams in the league this season. They should enter Saturday’s contest looking to impose their will on the Bucs defensive line with a mix of Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster.
This success should open up for the Chiefs passing game. Thought it is only the 2nd preseason game, it is time for Todd Haley to let Matt Cassel off the lease. For better or worse, the Chiefs must take multiple shots downfield. Cassel and the Chiefs receivers got arguably little to nothing out of the Atlanta game. They need to make up for it on Saturday. It is time to test them.
The Chiefs are still very young and while improvement is sure to come it may take some time. Perhaps by midseason the Chiefs will be able to hang tough with the likes of the Falcons and Eagles but right now, they are still outmatched. Based on 2009, they should not be out matched when they travel to Tampa to take on the Bucs.
The Chiefs need a confidence boost and they need that boost to come from play on the football field. Todd Haley and his coaching staff need to open up the playbook and treat the first half of Saturday’s game like it is the AFC Championship. If the Chiefs can prove to their fans and more importantly, to themselves, that they have improved enough to easily handle a team like the Bucs, they will finally have a tangible reward to use as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
If they fail to do so and find themselves manhandled and embarrassed by a fellow bottom feeder, it could be a sign that another long season is on the horizon for the Kansas City Chiefs.