August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers (90) dives but can

KC Chiefs Offense: What We've Learned

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!

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  • dodod

    QBR is based out of 100. Did you post his passer rating?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Nice catch. I was definitely referring to his passer rating.

  • steve james

    Nice article I agree on all points, I think Dex will finally be the game changer we were all hoping he could be. They will be game planning around him.

  • Shayaan Ali

    cassel is definitely throwing with some zip this year. he had two rockets in a row against the rams to boss and o’connell.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Nice article. I think Cassel’s success is directly related to how well the OC does at his job. Daboll seems to be a good fit.
    I have to disagree on one point. I believe the presence of Bowe will help Baldwin. Baldwin is not quite but almost a rookie due to the fact that this is his first full training camp, plus his injury last year. Bowe should help him minimize his rookie mistakes, (like the fumble). It will also take the double teams off him which has to be tough for a young receiver in the NFL.
    I don’t think a lot of fans realize how much Bowe means to this offense. Now that he’s back defenses will have to double him. Even so he’ll still get 1,000+ yards and multiple TDs and that makes life a lot easier for the rest of the receivers and Cassel.

  • Jon Dundore

    I agree Cassel has been efficient, but he’s not showing me that he can throw deep outside the numbers. Good defenses are going to force him to do that. His only completion to a wide out in three quarters of play has been Baldwin’s slant route where he fumbled. He’s got to learn how to keep the defenses spread out by hitting some targets out wide and deep. Hopefully getting Bowe back and up to speed will help him out in that area. He really has been impressive though and this is probably me just being nit picky, but it will worry me when we play some good defenses.

  • Dave in SD

    Has anyone else noticed Cassel’s passes have been to RB and TE almost exclusively? He does look more confident and his passes are crisp however is he checking down too often? I’m not hating I just wonder if it’s the play calling or he isn’t confident throwing to his WR other then slants. I would like to see more WR plays called and an open passing game. We know the running game, slants and TE are on point. The offense will be deadly if we can open up a bit more.

    • Calchiefsfan

      I know they’ve been double teaming Baldwin, don’t know where Breaston has been. This is why I’m glad Bowe is back. Baldwin has great potential but Bowe is a proven star. It should open things up for Cassel, at least I hope so.

    • shay

      two words: dwayne bowe

  • DoubleD

    I guess the big concern I have with McCluster is that he always seems to look good in camp and pre-season but then kind of dissappers during the regular season. Let’s hope the magic continues this time around.

    • shay

      he’s never looked as good in camp or pre-season as he has this year, and he’s never been in an offensive system quite like this one (weis did some good things but mccluster was a rookie that year, and also got injured as soon as he started to look comfortable). why people seem to ignore the notion that players (especially skill players and wideouts) get considerably better going into years 3 and 4 is beyond me. look at darren sproles stats’ and see what he did in his first three years in the league (not much).

  • sidibeke

    I believe our O will be productive and that it will need to be. The Chiefs are cursed (Flowers in a boot, Lewis out for who knows how long, Hali suspended for Atl). The D, it appears, will be at a disadvantage at least in the first week and hopefully no longer.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      The walking boot doesn’t concern me. He wouldn’t be standing around during practices if this were as serious as it’s been made out to be. I think he and Lewis will both play in the opener. How effective they’ll be is another matter. You can never score too many points though. I’ll take whatever they can hang on the scoreboard.

  • jbuttram

    I cannot see where there is any way that Baldwin will not be at least the #2 WR this year. Cassel has built a huge bridge of trust witht he man this offseason, and I can only see it carrying over to the regular season. The only pass I seen him not reel in was the onle against Arizona, and he was double teamed and could have easily had a PI call on that one.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Breaston’s the #2 until further notice.

  • jmanza

    Great article. I truly think our offense will be defined by J. Charles. If he’s not back to his productivity two years ago, this offense will go nowhere.