Surprise! The 2012 Chiefs Are Comin’ For You

With their thumping 27-17 win (with the score 17-0 as the starters left the field), the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs have made their presence known, and while I always anticipated the Chiefs to be improved this year, it was clear that this game was all about surprise.

Suddenly, the national media have looked up from their Peyton Manning talking points and realized that there is another team in the AFC West – one far more likely to be playoff bound. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said as much after the game via Twitter, “I’m starting to agree with #Chiefs fans – national media (ESPN included) has fallen asleep on KC. They may be team to beat in AFC West.”

It’s important to remember that the Chiefs and the Cardinals were considered to be evenly-matched teams before this game. In fact, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports had the Cards ranked 16th in his July 25 power rankings, with the Chiefs at a lowly 22nd, justified by a rote comment about Matt Cassel defining the team’s overall worth (the laziness of what passes for analysis by national football writers astounds me at times).

But, it wasn’t just surprising that the Chiefs were impressive, or even that they gave Arizona a shellacking – it’s how they dominated. WR Dwayne Bowe wasn’t on the field. Neither WR Steve Breaston, nor WR Jonathan Baldwin, who has been blowing up training camp, caught a single pass. RB Jamaal Charles had just three carries for 12 yards. OLB Tamba Hali had zero sacks, and NT Dontari Poe barely registered his presence. And the Chiefs dominated.

Matt Cassel looked polished and comfortable, going 5/6 for 67 yards and a TD. RB Peyton Hillis, coming off a down year, looked fantastic running for 41 yards on four carries plus an 11-yard touchdown pass. WR/RB Dexter McCluster showed his skills as a matchup nightmare, reeling in three passes for 45 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs defense started with back-to-back 3-and-outs followed by an interception and tallied seven sacks on the night. In the limited amount of time that the Chiefs’ starters were out on the field, it was a massacre. In the late first quarter, I wrote in my notes “THIS IS CHILD’S PLAY!”

This game was also all about surprise because of the play-calling of OC Brian Daboll. I already love this man. Most notable was his fantastic call on 4th and 3. The Chiefs lined up with heavy personnel in a goal-line formation. As the defense began stacking the box to charge in up the middle, Cassel motioned all the backs and TEs out wide making it a five-receiver set with an open backfield. This threw the defense into chaos as they tried to adjust to coverage in panic. While they were still yelling at each other, Cassel slid in behind C Rodney Hudson for a sneaky conversion. I cannot tell you how much I loved that play – great design, perfectly executed.

Ever since Daboll was hired, we at AA and across Chiefs Nation have been pondering what Daboll’s offence “based on matchups” really meant. I think we’re now beginning to figure that out. While I think this game confirmed my assertion that Hillis could end up the Chiefs’ biggest free agent acquisition, I’m already eating my words about WR Devon Wylie and RB Cyrus Gray replacing McCluster. Dex’s move to being a pure slot receiver already looks like it will pay off dividends in 2012. On two big plays, Daboll drew things up so that Baldwin – the #1 target – would force a one-on-one on McCluster, who has now definitely shown that he has improved his route-running and ability to get open.


Most fundamentally, as Paddy pointed out, it’s clear the Chiefs generally grasp his offense and are executing it well. During the second half, GM Scott Pioli was in the press box talking about how the Chiefs now run like a well-oiled machine, getting plays in on time and communicating efficiently. As much as his image as a disciplinarian and ultra stickler for detail put me off, it is clear that the overall culture he is trying to install works. Players were always walking with confidence out there, and coaches seemed to be able to communicate well without wasting time with petty bickering.

The other big surprise is how deep the Chiefs seem to be at nose tackle. While Poe showed he still has a lot to learn, former practice-squader Anthony Toribio showed why he has taken the starting spot. He consistently got off blocks and single-handedly stuffed a running back in the backfield playing against the Cardinals’ starters. Meanwhile, Jerrel Powe was also impressive, getting penetration several times and even notching a sack from the nose tackle position. Poe clearly pushed the pocket on a few downs, but often times seemed to be playing patty-cake with the O-linemen – still unsure of how to use his hands effectively. He seemed to either be focusing too much on his hands or not enough. But, at the very least, he did get double-teamed nearly every time, which was a large part of why KC racked up so many sacks on the game.


The only negative surprises in this game were in the play of the Chiefs’ backup QBs. Although they are in a tight competition, neither played well. Still, neither arguably played worse than Arizona’s two quarterbacks competing over the starting job. I look forward to seeing Tanney bank some passes off the uprights for a touchdown in Game 2 of the preseason.

Generally speaking, it was hard to come away with anything but positive vibes after this game. The Chiefs are back with a vengeance this year and they have shown that they can beat you in any number of different ways. Wherever you are weakest, that’s where we will strike, because we have the tools to get you anywhere, anytime.

Next Chiefs Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug7:00Minnesota VikingsBuy Tickets

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Brian Daboll Dexter McCluster Dontari Poe Jerrel Powe Matt Cassel Peyton Hillis Preseason Football

  • Travis Hershberger

    i love this team and ur right, not only did the players show me they can win but daboll showed me that with his play calling, these players and this coordinator are the perfect match. go chiefs! and go daboll!

    • KCMikeG

      Plus just think of all the weapons that didn’t even touch the ball Breaston, Moeaki, Boss, Bowe, Baldwin and we still put up 27 points with the starters only playing the first two series! I know the Cards suck but they actually were ranked #16 while we were #22. The point is that we OWNED their ass like a great team does to a struggling team.

  • steve james

    When you look at the last two years and this preseason game it becomes very apparent how confused Haley was. He really shouldnt have run weis off. I think he might have still been coach if he hadn’t. I am not saying that would be a good thing.

    • KCMikeG

      Agreed not better but true. Turned out Haley was his own worst enemy.

  • steve james

    When you look at the last two years and this preseason game it becomes very apparent how confused Haley was. He really shouldn’t have run Weis off. He might still be coach if he hadn’t. I am not saying that a good thing.

  • Shayaan Ali

    prisco is a fucking joke

  • DoubleD

    On Poe . . ” But, at the very least, he did get double-teamed nearly every time, which was a large part of why KC racked up so many sacks on the game.”
    Double teamed and triple teamed from what I saw. If one guy singlehandedly occupies 2 or more blockers, at least one linebacker should be in the qb’s face.
    Seven sacks does not happen unless the DL is creating havoc. Plain and simple.

    • KCMikeG

      Exactly. Toribio (brilliant pick up Pioli), Poe, Gordon (tipped pass), Bailey, Powe with Jones (great FA pick pushed the pocket every play and had a sack too), Bair (caused fumble) and Long looked good too. We have talent AND depth that will only make Jackson and Dorsey even better. Just as with our offense (Winston for Richardson) (Daboll for Haley/Muir) what once was our greatest weakness is now one of our strengths.

      • KCMikeG

        How could I forget Ropati Pitoitua another nice pick up who gets my vote for looks most like Turley from “The Longest Yard”

  • ArrowFan

    We will see that very 4th down play go for 6 at least once this season when the D doesn’t flex out and cover everyone. It reminds me of something that was called the swinging gate, it was popular in college and H.S. a few years back.

  • Arrowhead Adventurer

    I wish Charlie had what we have now to work with. We had the best offensive and the best defensive coaches in the league. And the worst head coach.

    • KCMikeG

      Daboll is more creative and more flexible to the skills of the player and will make us great.

  • KCMikeG

    Great post! I have said many times before that Daboll and Winston are the two most important pieces of the play off puzzle. Both of them showed me ALL I had hoped for. Daboll called a masterful game with sliver of his playbook and will make Dexter a Star.

    Winston makes everyone else better – has anyone else noticed his block on Hillis 28 yard run? He looses his footing as he hits the hole looking for someone to contact and still – ON HIS KNEES – throws a chip on the LB helping Hillis break free. You can’t ask for more than that.
    You know what? They can love on Peyton all they want – I know what I saw. I saw Cassel stand in, step into the contact with the unblocked blitzing LB and release a perfect TD pass to Hillis. I saw a QB in charge at the line – reading the D and changing the play and going through progressions finding open receivers. I saw the fire it takes to be a leader of our Chiefs.
    Here’s what I saw from Peyton – NO TD’s a pick that Stokley is now pathetically taking the rap for and another INT that was missed and ended up bouncing into Tamme or he would have completed less than half his passes. The old, frail looking legend trying to throw to the right sideline that was so slow and wobbly that they took a commercial break during it. I want someone to be stupid enough to try to explain to me that Peyton and the donkeys were happy with that 44 yard effort that they decided not to have him run a 2nd series. BS – They didn’t put him back out there because they know if he struggled again back to back or even worse turned it over again that everything would start to unravel and old horse teeth would be run out of town. Suppose they can get Tebow back before the Jets realize what they have?

    • BigGil

      It occurred to me last night… A lot of DEN’s wins last year could be attributed to Tebow’s option style offense. Something rarely tried in the pros and which most defenders haven’t seen since their college days. I think Broncos fans will be disappointed that their team won’t be as awesome as they think it’ll be. Peyton played terribly compared to his former self.

    • Altarium

      Thank you for pointing out that sideline pass from manning. Watching MNF last night, they kept talking about how sharp he looked… while showing that pass! I think manning is smart enough with football to still be a danger to the chiefs, but right now, he is not playing as well as he used to.

  • Danny W

    I think he banks one of the upright then off the cross bar which then the ball will ricochet off of Jim Bob Cooter’s melon and into the waiting arms of Jamar Newsome.

  • jimbobjo

    it just seems to me that you are forgetting 2 things 1rt tackle 2 as much as i saw great improvement ireaize it was against the cards

  • vbchief

    I remember in 2008. When bradys backups were playing preseason the announcers were questioning the quality of depth at the QB position..

    we all know how that turned out… i think each back up should be ableto have atleast two series in preseason with the staters to be able to accurately ( semi) judge them..

    • KCMikeG

      Good point. We always try to judge them at a disadvantage. I think Stanzi might have been started over Palko (assuming Haley didn’t go crazy) IF he had gotten some snaps with the starters vs running for his life behind a terrible line.

  • big chief

    Ok I’m excited too, they looked great but let’s see if they can do the same against some teams that won’t be 6-10 before we crown them champs.