We’re halfway through the preseason and I’ve learned a few things about this Brian Daboll-led offense. Some of these things are certain to incite riots among the angry Arrowhead mobs I’ve been surrounded by lately. If you have violent reactions to Matt Cassel or Dexter McCluster being heralded in any way, turn away now! Take all of this with a grain of salt and please remember that I’m a lover not a fighter.
1. Matt Cassel will be efficient.
Remember when I said that one of Daboll’s job responsibilities was to maximize Cassel’s strengths? That’s precisely what Daboll has done thus far. This is the most efficient Cassel has ever been. He’s completed 75% of his passes and posted a 114 QBR through the first two preseason games. He’s done this without Dwayne Bowe or any real contribution from Breaston or Baldwin. That’s a testament to how comfortable Cassel currently is with Daboll’s system and coaching. I think it also helps that his new offensive coordinator is trusting of him and allows him some measure of control over the offense. Cassel’s clearly taken advantage of the opportunity to check at the line of scrimmage. A confident Cassel with a cadre of offensive weapons could very well mean a return to his 2010 form. It should also be noted that Cassel’s been putting the ball in the right spots and seems to have more velocity on his passes (courtesy of Tom House).
2. Dexter McCluster will make his biggest offensive contribution yet.
McCluster, or Public Enemy #3 in Chiefs country (Pioli and Cassel own the top two spots), has quietly made the decision to move him back to the Receiving corps look good. Daboll believes he can be beneficial to this offensive group so he’ll be used in a number of ways. The presence of Bowe, Breaston, and Baldwin on the outside will leave room for Dex to hurt defenses underneath. McCluster’s precise route-running and quickness have already helped him to become one of Matt Cassel’s favorite targets. Dex leads all Chiefs receivers with 69 receiving yards this preseason. He’s averaging 11.3 yards per catch.
3. The Chiefs will be more successful at converting third downs.
Kansas City was 19th in the league in 2011, converting just 36% of their third downs. While I don’t expect them to be a Top 10 unit in this category, I think they will improve upon that number. Peyton Hillis answers the problem the Chiefs have had in short-yardage situations. McCluster, Boss, and Moeaki provide great pass-catching options for anything under 7 yards. I’d venture to guess that we’ll also see the right play called on a more regular basis. Too often, under Haley’s leadership, run plays and pass plays were interchanged on big third downs.
4. Jonathan Baldwin still has some growing up to do.
Despite an impressive training camp, Chiefs second-year WR Jon Baldwin has struggled in the opening two games of the preseason. He logged just one catch in Saturday night’s matchup with the St. Louis Rams. No sooner than he’d caught the football, he put it on the ground, and St. Louis promptly took advantage of the turnover. Baldwin’s swagger in St. Joseph hasn’t translated onto the field yet. Things won’t be any easier for him now that Bowe’s back in the fold. He’ll see fewer reps with the top offensive unit. Steve Breaston is a polished veteran who will hold the #2 WR job down until Baldwin pushes him to the slot. Time will tell if he can force him out of that role.
Two games left to play before the regular season opener. I look forward to adding a few more items to this list. Hopefully we’ll cover more ground and I can tell you what I learned about the offensive line, Devon Wylie, and Dwayne Bowe.
Until then Addicts, adios!