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.
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?