Chiefs Beat Cardinals: 22 Observations From The Game

The Kansas City Chiefs rewarded their fans’ high expectations with very solid play Friday night, defeating the Cardinals 27-17 in the first preseason game of the year.

It was a blast watching this game and I jotted down some notes on what I saw the first time around.


1. Matt Cassel looked more comfortable than I’ve seen him look in years. He was calm in the pocket and always seemed to know where he wanted to go with the football. There was no standing around with his arms out looking off to the sideline like there was during the Todd Haley era. For a QB trying to prove that 2010 was no fluke, this was an excellent sign.

2. A lot will be made about the Chiefs’ depth at running back this morning but man alive, did you see that offensive line? The Chiefs were absolutely mauling the Cardinals up front and I can’t recall a time where Matt Cassel was ever in danger of getting sacked. The Cardinals aren’t exactly the Baltimore Ravens but KC but it appears Scott Pioli’s investment in the offensive line is paying off.

3. And how about those running backs? Jamaal Charles looked pretty good to me on his three carries. He’ll shake off the rust over the course of the rest of the preseason so look for his decision-making to improve a bit. Peyton Hillis is as advertised. He can run, block and catch and he did all of those things last night.

4. Overall the KC offense looked like a well-oiled machine. The personnel moved on and off the field with ease and I never found myself sweating out the play clock. I hate to pile on Todd Haley here but the play clock nearing zero seemed to be a common theme during his tenure as head coach. Brian Daboll has this offense prepared to play football and that is going to be a big advantage for the team moving forward.

5. Weapons, weapons, weapons. The fact that neither Jonathan Baldwin, nor Steve Breaston had a catch shouldn’t concern you. It shouldn’t concern you because the other skill players, like Dexter McCluster and Peyton Hillis, did make an impact. That is the advantage to having multiple weapons on offense. The defense can’t possibly account for everyone. If they blanket Breaston and Baldwin, McCluster or Moeaki or Boss or Hillis are going to get a favorable matchup. That is what Brian Daboll’s offense is all about. In the past, when defenses keyed in on KC’s play-makers, there was nobody else for Matt Cassel to turn to. That is no longer the case in Kansas City and that should have fans very, very excited.

6. The backups have some work to do. I thought both Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi were bad. Neither QB showed the accuracy necessary to be viable NFL QBs. It can sometimes be hard to judge backup QBs in the preseason because they are playing with a bunch of guys who will probably be cut and who haven’t had as many practice snaps but you still want to see clean, accurate throws when receivers are open. Neither backup showed they can do that last night. If the QB play doesn’t improve, the Chiefs might be wise to bring in another veteran game manager.

7. Josh Bellamy showed he wasn’t ready for prime time yet. You could clearly see his ability but he had a drop when he got the chance to make a play. The KC roster is talented and deep in many areas. Right now, Bellamy looks like he could be heading to the practice squad. But there is still time.

8. Devon Wylie looked like a rookie. He couldn’t bring in a bad pass from Brady Quinn and it led to an interception. He did do some nice work on a punt return. This was Wylie’s first game and he should get better. The good news is that the Chiefs are finally in a place where they don’t have to rush their rookies into action before they are ready. Wylie will probably make the team but he may not make a big impact at receiver until down the line and that is ok as long as Dexter McCluster can make strides in Daboll’s offense.

9. Speaking of McCluster, good start for him last night. All the extra weapons KC has added means McCluster will finally have the space he needs to do some damage.


1. It was a great night for the KC defense. They were flying to the ball and despite not having Brandon Flowers, they were stout against the Cardinals’ struggling offense.

2. Derrick Johnson looks to be picking up where he left off. he blew threw the line and made a tackle in the backfield to keep the Cards from getting a first down.

3. Is it just me or does Jovan Belcher look faster? I don’t know if Brandon Siler is pushing him or what but Belcher was flying all over the field. He launched himself about fifty feet in the air trying to sack Skelton and while he missed, I couldn’t help but think about the time DJ flipped over the Pittsburgh offensive line in an effort to get to Ben Roethlisberger. Keep an eye on Jovan this preseason. A lot of people thing he will eventually be replaced as a starter but remember, Belcher came from a D-III school. He very well may not have peaked yet.

4. Justin Houston got a sack, just beating Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali to the task. Dontari Poe was also collapsing the pocket while bull-rushing two Cardinals offensive lineman. Poe struggled at times but if that play was an indication of what is to come for the KC pass rush, QBs around the NFL had better be put on notice. Romeo rushing four guys named Johnson, Hali, Houston and Poe? Yes please!

5. Justin Houston also had a pass breakup. As long as he stays healthy, I think Houston is going to be a starter this season. He looks like a complete linebacker.

6. Hali was Hali. He pressured the QB on one play, drawing a holding penalty. The QB got the ball off and it was intercepted by Abram Elam. Pass rush? Check. Safety depth? Check.

7. Eric Berry got back into action and came flying in to take down the ball carrier before he could turn a decent gain into a huge gain. Good to have you back, EB.

8. Stanford Routt drew a PI penalty in the short time he was on the field, though it was a questionable call by the replacement refs. Routt comes with a penalty history so he is going to be scrutinized more than your average Chiefs defender. The jury is still out.

9. Anthony Toribio beat a double team and made a tackle in the backfield. The veteran seems to be intent on giving Poe time to develop and that is fine by me. Excellent job by Romeo Crennel sticking with Toribio.

Special Teams:

1. KC had good returns from Wylie and Arenas. They still haven’t returned one for six but you get the sense they might be close.

2. Succop did his job, connecting on all his kicks.

3. The Chiefs nearly blocked a punt on a couple of occasions. That tends to happen in preseason as teams are trotting out some new tricks. We will see if it continues.

4. Kick coverage seemed pretty solid.

All right, Addicts, those are my observations from the game. Mostly positive stuff here. What did you see?

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  • Jim Meyer

    I saw at least one play where Torbino was triple-teamed and still moving to collapse the pocket.

  • Ehud

    1) Cassel looked pretty good. He was not without error but, he played well enough for me to stop holding my breath every time he passes.
    2) The tempo was much better. No hurrying to get the play off. Everyone looked calm and collected. Good sign.
    3) Give it up for Steve Maneri. Good night that goes a ways towards locking down a roster spot for him. If it is a choice between Maneri or a FB take Maneri.
    4) Didn’t notice Wiegmann was gone. Good job Hudson.

    1) Looks like DJ is going to pick up where he left off last year.
    2) Nice pass rush from Belcher. That’s a new look from him.
    3) Routt still has work to do. No interference calls please.
    4) Poe looks like a rookie with work to do. There were flashes (like when he was holding stout against a triple team) but he has work to do to make that more consistent.

    Overall this is a performance that should be giving Chiefs fans hope. But still keep in mind this was the Arizona Cardinals.

    • Patrick Allen

      Cardinals, Smardinals. The Chiefs got their asses whipped by just about anyone in the past in the preseason. Now they are doing the ass whooping.

      As for Cassel, the only mistake he made was trying to force that pass to Baldwin when he had two guys, I believe Charles and Hillis, open underneath with space. It was his only missed pass. Then again, it was nice to see him attacking a little bit instead of always dumping off. If he never throws down field, all these dumps and screens Daboll has set up won’t work.

      This offense reminds me of what worked so well for Cassel in NE. Deliver the ball and let his play-makers go to work.

      • Tarkus

        Thank you. A year ago, the Chiefs got shut out by the Bucs in their preseason opener. The same Bucs who went on to allow a whopping 31 points a game during the regular season. These aren’t your Todd Haley’s Chiefs anymore.

      • Ehud

        The fact that it was the Cardinals matter. You can brush it off but, wouldn’t you have a better opinion of this team if they had offensively beat a team like the Steelers or Ravens. Or defensively beat a team like the Saints or New England?

        The two mistakes I saw from Cassel were his missed pass to Charles on the right side and the one he threw up to Baldwin in double coverage. I accept the Charles miss easier than the Baldwin throw because the Baldwin throw could have been picked too easily and to do that with Charles open in the middle like he was is a poor decision. But like I said I still really liked what I saw from Cassel last night. It’d be great if I can see it every game.

        I still come out of this preseason game excited and hopeful but I can still be excited and temper it with reality.

        • KCMikeG

          I agree with Paddy on the Cards being our opponent. Here’s why – we looked better than the Saints looked against them. Our defense had 4 more sacks, we scored scored 17 in 1st half just like they did but we scored 10 more total points because our depth allowed us to score in each quarter. Their reserve squad was shut out while ours performed.

        • KCMikeG

          On Cassel I’m going to disagree with both of you by saying Cassel has confidence in Baldwin to make that throw and if Baldwin hadn’t been the recipient of an uncalled over the back penalty he would have caught it. I have been watching JB a lot at camp and while everything about him is exciting the thing I like best is that when that ball is in the air it’s HIS – you can see that attitude, confidence. We will be watching Cassel fire the ball to him at times when it may not look like there is a play there but their chemistry has created one.
          My disappointment was with his only incompletion as he tried to get the ball to Charles by throwing around the pressure instead of dropping it over. If he had Charles would have had a huge play. Otherwise Cassel was everything I had hoped for and the best is yet to come.

  • William Earl Grobmyer

    I am a chiefs season ticket holder and last night i saw a very classy move by a certain player. It was halftime and me and my friend decided we would try to get down to the very front row. We got on the 34 yard line. The problem was that it was on the Arizona bench sidelines. Throughout the rest of the game all the players were being heckled. Then Larry Fitzgerald came to our side. Every one was screaming his name and he acted as if we were not there. Something then made him turn around and there was a little boy in the stands with a Fitzgerald jersey. Larry saw it and the boy held up a sharpie. Larry did not come to the wall but he asked for his dad to toss him the sharpie. He then walked away. A few moments later he came back with a game used football and signed it for the little boy and tossed it back to him. What a great moment to witness.

    • Patrick Allen

      Larry is, by all accounts, a terrific guy. He is also an excellent receiver. I’d swap out Bowe for him in a heartbeat.

      • KCMikeG

        Fitz has always been top shelf and I bet he wishes he had come to KC.

      • Zach

        I would even do Bowe and a 1st

        • Danny W

          Here now Bowe and 1st is crazy talk. Bowe and fourth.

    • dave

      larry just gets it. I had a few things happen, nothing that awesome, via football players like larry when I was a kid. he really really gets it. you remember these things, and they frankly mean a heck of a lot. that was so cool of him to do. unlike marcus allen, who when I was 8, told me at an airport while decked in chiefs gear “way to go kid, now people who know who I am”. he was rude, and you dont forget it
      good for fitz

  • Jim Lincoln

    What about Powe?
    Can’t remember the last time a Chief bull-rushed through a double team strait to the QB. Might be the greatest show of pure strength I’ve ever seen. Who’s got the GIF?
    Me thinks Powe and Poe might make a good pair for KC’s nickle & dime. Toribio may play with better technique (I wouldn;t know) but Mr. Powe is the most disruptive. I like disruptive on 3rd and long.

  • Lenny Lieurance

    My favorite things: Cassel staying calm and reading the defense.
    DMC showing Haley’s an idiot for moving him to running back.
    My boy Belcher proving he deserves that starting gig.

    • ehhhh

      they needed dex at hb last year, and he wasnt by any means bad.

      • KCMikeG

        DMC lead us in YPC and had 1,400 total yards while underutilized by a pathetic HC/OC. RAC has said Dexter will be helping the team ALL phases of the game and Daboll has a history of getting the best out of players by developing his system to match the players strengths – look at Hillis and Bush. Dexter will be a Super Star this year.

  • Jim Lincoln

    Oh, about the rest of the game…
    1) Dabol is my new hero. Well trained, well controlled, mid-season sharp offense. Wow. 4th and one – beautiful set-up and play.
    2) My biggest concern, o-line, has been largely put to rest. They failed to pick up a crossing stunt on one of the first pass plays but were nearly flawless. Hudson is going to be OK at center.
    3) Why did Manari start playing Tackle? KC is keeping 3 TE’s and Mr. Manari has a job. Jason Dunn+ this guy.
    4) Cardinals may be a bad team or a team worn out by tough practise (more likely). We need to see more but….. don’t believe I could be any happier about what we saw yesterday.

    • KCMikeG

      Totally agree on all your points. I have been saying that the only thing that will determine our success more than adding Winston/Hillis will be Daboll’s creativity and player utilization. I 2nd the HERO nomination! Maneri has been a beast in camp and we will push NE for top TE production. These guys are for real.

  • Talicore

    Rewatching the game, the biggest thing I see is time. Time for Cassel to get through his progressions. Time to actually read a defense before the snap. And tIme for the backs to pick and choose their running lanes. To not be excited for this offense to take the field…….is to be dead. Plain and simple.

  • Danny W

    Did I see audibles last night. Those don’t work and everyone knows it. First off you have to have a very old man send down the play to the quarterback coach who then asks permission from the head coach to run the play. If they don’t agree then an audible is called on the sideline. Then the quarterback gets the proper play with exactly 1.5 seconds left on the clock.
    Has some good zip on the ball but needs to get his passes down. I’m sure it’s a mechanical issue and could be worked out.
    I dont think Rick is going to be the FQB we all hoped he would be. He reminds me of Brodie Croyle for some reason. He seems skittish and not sure.
    Cassel had some balls sail on him quite frequently last year too. So far he seems to have his issues worked out.
    Don Steve
    At this point I really hope Albert stays healthy. Don Steve does not look ready (yet). I looked for Jeff Allen but didn’t notice him.
    Would like to see him get some reps at the 1 spot.
    Saw him icing his knee on the sidelines. Hoping he’s fine after all.
    The Chiefs seemed fluid and ready to go. For once we seem to have more answers than question in early August. If we stay healthy we shouldn’t get blown out in any game.

    • KCMikeG

      Hilarious description of the play call prevention system we had last year! Quinn needs to dial it in but don’t give up on Stanzi yet as he has so little experience and was playing with the 2/3′s. He will develop as an option or as a great back up or trade next year. I think they have Powe on the same schedule and Toribio is going to be a huge pick up by RAC/Pioli (from the GB practice squad) giving him and Poe time to develop. Stephenson struggled and Allen only had a few plays but again – we are developing them for next year because we have high caliber starters ahead of them. Charles is fine and was moving around on his knee cheering the reserves on. This team is going to make some noise!

      • Danny W

        Sure does look that way so far. Heres to avoiding the injury bug.

  • Sharon Gless

    DId anyone else think it was weird that Warpaint was ridden across the field but then walked back around the perimeter? Was that a preseason training thing? OR was Warpaint under the weather? I don’t ever remember seeing that.

    • cmon

      warpaint is out of shape. first sign of the team’s conditioning issues post haley

      • KCMikeG

        See Haley wasn’t all bad. He had Warpaint ready for the season – just none of the players!

    • Kisersosay

      Goes back to last year….Not enough touchdowns to stay in shape….

  • Josiah

    Awesome game. Chiefs seemed poised to make a run at the west title. Lets hope Peyton bombs and Philip Rivers is a has been. Hail to the Chiefs!

  • Zach

    Great to see both first teams look solid. Just want to keep everyone healthy now and find out who will make this team

  • KCMikeG

    Excellent work! I had pretty high expectations for last night and they were exceeded across the board. RAC, Daboll and the coaching staff to ally had this team ready to go! Cassel had command at the line and time to read the defense and change the play just like we have noticed in camp.
    My biggest concern appears it may come true though. That concern is how on earth is Daboll going to be able to decide how to distribute the ball around to all these weapons? His play calling was a thing of beauty. I am a little concerned about Quinn/Stanzi but it is just the 1st game. One of them will separate themselves as the season nears. ALL of our RB’s should make the roster. Bellamy and Newsome have had good camps but neither could get it done last night. So the knock on our line by some doubters has been their ability to gel. Question answered and they will only get better – a perfect blend of experience and youth. McCluster is going to have a Super Star year from all over the field and Wylie will develop behind him while shining on ST’s with Arenas. Speaking of ST – perfection I love how every single one of them runs all the way into the end zone even when every single KO went out of the EZ or wasn’t returnable. The wall of blocking for Wylie was text book just like McMahon drew it up. Another great add by Pioli.
    Our ILB, NT & safety depth were the areas of concern yet they all stood out as positives. Siler and Belcher looked so good my man Heymen didn’t get a shot but Gabe Miller, Campbell, and Williams made themselves know. Toribio, Poe (who I saw doubled AND Tripled pushed the pocket and held his own) plus Powe showed up with a vengeance as did DE Pitoitua. There were a handful of picks nearly had from the DL pressure on the QB’s.
    Thank you Clark, Scott, RAC and Company – and especially the players.

  • jesse o

    boysI know this is off subject but why don’t we change our uniforms? I’ve been a big chiefs fan since 90, and as far as I can remember they have always been the same. Give the guys something to pump em up. Since Nike is doing them now take a play from Oregon (the birth place of Nike)maybe go carbon fiber black with some red and gold. More gold then yellow. Man would that be sweet or what. For the badass players we have why not deck em out in some badass uni’s? What do you think Patty, don’t our deserve some badass duds?

    • KCMikeG

      I’m a big proponent for the red pants on the road – I really don’t like our all white look. A black/red/gold pant would be cool too. I think the home jerseys need to stay as they are.

  • ArrowFan

    Our D is stout 7 sacks!!!!!!!!! And the O is going to be a work of art this year.

  • JohnMorrow

    First preseason game since forever that was not a waste of fans money! Stadium seemed about 85% full and was rocking, at least while our 1s were playing.

    • KCMikeG

      Attendance was about what I expected but as the game started seemed to fill up even more. I think some waited to see after 1st TD tailgate crews hustled in. I agree on value for my dollars spent. It actually was a game vs another practice. Of course it helped that we won in a dominant fashion. Our preseason record over the last 5 years is a shocking 3-17! Excellent volume level for preseason. Charles said he was nearly brought to tears by our love after his 1st carry.

  • ArrowFan

    Shefiled got pulled in on that big run they had and Studibaker looks to be in the front running for the backup OLB spot.