Breaking Down The Tape

(Pic: AP)

Hey now, don’t complain.

You wanted football.  What happened last night was barely football, but it was football.  And it sure beats watching two windbags like Lyle Graverson and yours truly go back and forth on Aubrayo Franklin for weeks on end. 

So this is football.  Barely.  And while last night was, by all measurements, a bait-and-switch on any fan that paid full price for the game, it was ripe for analysis by all my fellow roster watchers out there.

This team has 88 players on it.  Last night was about players 21 through 88.  I don’t care what Tampa’s agenda was, and clearly Haley didn’t either.  We wanted to see what we have.

So if you taped the game, don’t delete it just yet.  Keep it on your DVR and rewatch it a couple times, but this time watch it like a Kansas City coach: which of these players can help this team?  Which players are dispensible?

Watching the game from that angle, here is my far-too-detailed breakdown of the tape, after the jump.

The following breakdown is not in any order I can discern.  It’s just the thoughts that flow from my notes.

Who looked good?

  • QB Tyler Palko looked like a good backup option… in 2012.  While there’s no doubt Palko has some growing pains, however, you can start to see what the coaching staff sees in him.  His accuracy is troubling, but I’m not going to hold that against him after such a pathetic performance by the backup offensive line.  I’m not going to adopt Todd Haley’s “at least he didn’t give up” mantra because that’s nonsense, but he didn’t look flappable.  He’s very mobile, and kept his eyes downfield.  I like him a lot, but I wouldn’t want him to be the primary backup on this team this year.
  • C Darryl Harris got about half the snaps at center, constantly switching with Rodney Hudson.  My belief is that the team wants to create competition between the two, rather than just handing the ball to Hudson here in a year.  Harris got the better of the two (other than the fumble… yikes), and counting last night, this is the third preseason in a row I’ve been impressed by him.  I want him at backup guard, pronto.
  • WR Terrance Copper showed again why he was a top priority for the Chiefs this offseason.  His special teams play is very strong, and he’s a positive presence in the locker room.  His speed and hands haven’t always been there, but he looked really solid on a slant with Palko connecting.
  • RB Dexter McCluster has always looked better running than receiving since he’s been a Chief.  That was apparent all last year, and I’m happy to see the Chiefs line him up in the i (as I suggested!).
  • CB Jalil Brown was challenged by QB Josh Johnson all day, and made damn good plays on the ball every time — I think he was beat once, maybe?  I continue to believe the Chiefs will not retain Brandon Carr past this year (Pioli rarely signs two corners to big deals, and the only one he’ll be signing will be to Flowers), so I believe Brown’s size and talent make him the natural successor to Carr in a year, not Javier Arenas.
  • OLB Justin Houston shrugged off all hard feelings Chiefs fans might have had after such a crappy training camp so far.  Every single time the Chiefs asked Houston to get to the QB, he made life hell for the opposing blocker.  He came in from the edge, he came up the gut, and every single play he got to the backfield.  Studebaker still owns the SOLB position across from Hali for the year, but Houston’s going to take it from him.
  • DE Amon Gordon didn’t really have that great of a game, but he did provide the best laugh.  Super-quick Josh Johnson had scrambled into the flat, and Gordon rumbled out to try and track him down (Gordon is listed at 305, but looks like an out-of-shape 320).  Johnson easily darts around Gordon and gains six yards on the ground.  Gordon never gave up, tracking him all the way down for the tackle, and immediately started pounding his helmet for the coaches to pull him on the next play.  Dude.  Was.  Gassed.
  • ILB Erik Bakhtiari has occupied the back end of our roster for a second straight year now, and he’s coming along.  His special teams were strong, but he applied decent pressure up the gut and did a good job plugging holes in the run game.
  • NT Jerrell Powe had an understandably inconsistent debut, but he was our best defensive lineman Friday night.  Although he did get blown off the ball about five yards deep one play, he was an immovable object for almost the rest, and showed great agility in tracking down Josh Johnson from behind.  Powe is a very stout 320 pounds right now, and looks to be in incredible shape.  Could not have felt good for Johnson.
  • ILB Cory Greenwood has a roster spot on this team for as long as he wants it.  He has been a special teams standout under Haley, and looks to be pretty talented on defense as well.  He was one of the few linebackers who was never once out of position, and showed a bit of a passrush that we’ve never seen before.  His worth on special teams and his work ethic guarantee him a spot on any Todd Haley roster.
  • ILB Micah Johnson finally started making noise after spending the better part of a year on our roster.  All Chiefs draftniks were thrilled when we claimed him off waivers a year ago, and he’s finally starting to show up.
  • WR Jonathan Baldwin is going to need to work on his route-running.  He rarely had space from his opposing corners.  But his hands cannot be doubted.  Hopefully I don’t need to explain why at this point.

Who didn’t?

  • QB Tyler Palko again.  I’m conflicted, okay?  His accuracy just isn’t there, and he continually locks onto receivers.  I still think he’s a good talent to have on your QB depth chart, and I don’t think we got a good look because the offense line was in shambles last night. 
  • OC Bill Muir was underwhelming.  Not a single pass for Cassel?  Why even risk throwing him out there?  We also have a ton of smaller, slot-type receivers, to which we gave our QBs next to zero plays to utilize them. 
  • The new kickoff rules.  Touchbacks in preseason suck.
  • WR Jeremy Horne is just not getting open.  Fast WRs are tougher to watch because much of what he does is off screen, but has Horne ever done something to make this team need him?
  • WR Verron Tucker was always a Cinderella story for this team.  I’d love to pick up a speed demon off the scrap heap and make him a contributor, too, but you can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole.  And Verron Tucker is a very square peg.  Like Horne, it’s just been eons since he’s made a play.
  • CB/S Donald Washington is not long for this team if they start digging on Sabby Piscitelli.  His coverage has been a ridiculously poor experiment for about three years now.  He didn’t get burned all game, but he didn’t make any plays either, and I saw his number surface far too often when a receiver hauled a ball in downfield.
  • CB Demond Washington had the worst night of everybody on the team, and may very well be the worst player in red & gold this year.  The UDFA out of Auburn was a waste of space last night, and gave up two long pass plays and the second half touchdown when he fell over.  His cushion was too big (sometimes it was over 10 yards), and his ability to track a receiver was just nonexistant.  When we acquired Washington, I was excited for our return game, and he may still have value there.  But the Chiefs don’t line him up even in practice as a kick returner, and he has looked dreadful at corner.
  • CB/KR Quentin Lawrence had a pretty rough night too, although he started to right the ship as the game went on.  Lawrence’s opening kick return was embarrassing, but at least he returned the kick.  As a corner, he was targeted the most, and lost more than he won.  It doesn’t seem like it even matters if he snaps onto a receiver, because the receiver is winning those battles regardless. 
  • FB Shane Bannon is listed on kcchiefs.com as being 240 lbs, but he clearly looks to be upwards of 260.  But for all the versatility he was supposed to give this offense — someone who could block, run, and receive — he looked crappy blocking, and horrendous running the ball.  I didn’t notice any swing routes he might have run to the flat, but the QBs didn’t even look his way if he did.
  • OG Chris Harr next to Demond Washington, Harr was probably the worst player Friday night on the field.  There was not a single snap Harr played where he didn’t get beat like a rented mule.  Granted, he’s a third string guard, but so many defensive lineman got penetration playing him, they actually managed to score a safety at one point.  A safety
  • DE Dion Gales has found a way to stay a Chief for a while now, and has done it through special teams and because the team has desperately needed depth at DE.  That might not be the case anymore.
  • DE Allen Bailey still looks like he has all the tools, but it’s going to take him the better part of the year to figure out where he needs to be and what to do every play.  When he’s in the right spot doing the right thing, he looks very promising.  Sadly, this only happened a handful of the snaps he played.  We knew he was raw when we drafted him, though.  His passrush, however, needs a lot of work.  At this point, I think he’s just confused. 
  • OT Mike Ingersoll needs to change numbers.  I don’t know all the third stringers as well as I should, so I had to keep checking my roster page to see who #77 was after he got spanked off the edge for the umpteenth time in a row.  He cannot defend the edge for a lick.
  • OT Butch Lewis had a very rough game as well.  He didn’t get his ass handed to him on every play like Harr did, but his runblocking was nonexistent and his pass protection was… well, you saw Stanzi and Palko run their asses off all game.
  • TE Cody Slate must have a pair of golden, reliable pass-catching hands.  That’s the only way I can justify him being on this roster right now.  Because his pass protection was an embarrassment.  He wasn’t targeted downfield that I know of, either.  So… maybe he’s holding out on us or something.
  • DE Brandon Bair gave up way too much push in the run game.  I’ve been high on Bair since we brought him in, and I still hope he claims a roster spot.  But it’s very clear he’s not strong enough at this point.  He didn’t really anchor at all last night and the two gaps he was responsible for became highway lanes.
  • OLB Pierre Walters gave up the first touchdown when he didn’t contain on the LOLB side against QB Josh Freeman.  A correctable error, easily, but Walters needs to earn his paycheck passrushing.  And the passrush in our standard, non-blitzing packages was absolutely pathetic.  You can lay that on a few people, but Walters in particular stood out for getting washed in with everybody else.
  • NT Anthony Toribio will earn a paycheck as a Kansas City Chief for at least one more year as the team’s confidence in Powe slowly grows.  I didn’t like the aquisition of Kelly Gregg, and I don’t think he’ll last a full year before wearing down, but Toribio’s not much better.  His positioning is good, but he’s not anchoring like he needs to, and he was washed by the offensive line on every short yardage play.  When teams are 100% successful in short yardage situations when you’re the nose tackle, you’re not doing your job.
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