Here we are, Chiefs fans. After seven months with absolutely no Chiefs football, we are less than one week away from the first preseason game. The Chiefs will travel south on “a train you call, The City of New Orleans” and face off against one of only two teams the 2012 version of themselves managed to beat last season.
This first preseason game is meaningless in the rankings, but is the first step in the journey that will be the 2013 season – a season many hope (and some are even predicting) will end with as many as five times the wins last season produced. However trivial the final outcome of the game may be, and despite my feelings about the preseason (as I voiced last week) there is some value to these nationally televised scrimmages.
That being said, here are five things I would like to see in next Friday night’s showdown with the “Who Dat” nation.
#1: OFFENSE, OFFENSE, OFFENSE!
The 2012 version of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense was absolutely abysmal. They ranked 24th in yards per game (319.2) and dead last in points per game (13.2), and passing yards (169.6 yards per game). The team as a whole only scored 17 touchdowns last year. Yes, you read that correctly. If there was any question why the new management team of head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey spent so much time and effort on the offense during this offseason, I hope those above stats give you your answer.
This first preseason game will feature a completely retooled offensive unit, led by a new quarterback in Alex Smith who will be throwing to a proven wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and utilizing offensive weapons Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. I want the Chiefs first team to light up the scoreboard. I want AS11 to come out of the tunnel slinging the ball down field. I want the receivers to actually catch the balls thrown at them and do something with it after the fact. I want to see the stars of this offense who we’ve written so much about and you’ve read so much about during the offseason to find the endzone early and often.
#2: The Twos Will Look Like Ones
More than seeing the first team offense perform well, I want the players who will be playing for backup roles on this offensive unit to find the endzone as well. One thing the Chiefs have lacked since…well, since I’ve been a Chiefs fan is depth at offensive skill positions. Chiefs fans all know who the number one receiver is, but who is number two? Donnie Avery? Jon Baldwin? Will a lesser known name like a Josh Bellamy or Junior Hemmingway or even a longshot like Rico Richardson emerge as a compliment to the D-Bowe Show?
The same can be said at the running back position. Jamaal Charles is the undisputed King of the Chiefs’ backfield, but who will step up to compliment him? Can Knile “Miles” Davis be the thunder to JC’s lightning? Will another runner in the stable step up like a Cyrus Gray, Shaun Draughn or even an unknown (similar to Jamaal) like a Jordan Rodgers? That’s what these preseason games are for, and what I’d like to see. I want to see some of the cream start to rise to the top.
#3: The Three (Tight End) Amigos
One of the position groups I am the most excited about this season is the tight ends. Everything I’ve read and heard from camp is this is the battle to watch. I am really excited about Travis Kelce. I loved the pick when R & D made it at the draft and I love it even more now. Kelce and Alex Smith seem to have really developed some chemistry during the first week of camp when the rookie worked out with Smith exclusively without any other distractions. Add to that point that Smith is quite fond of his tight end (see Vernon Davis on Smith’s former team) and this could truly develop into a match made in Chiefs heaven.
Luckliy for the Chiefs, Kelce isn’t the only pass catching run blocker on the team. Prior to drafting Kelce this year, R & D went out and signed former Miami Dolphin Anthony Fasano who made quite a name for himself last year in South Beach as a red zone ninja. Fasano caught five touchdowns last season, and every single one was inside the 20 yard line. The Chiefs need that redzone threat, and I’d love to see Fasano grab one against the Saints on Friday night.
Rounding out the amigos is incumbent tight end, Tony Moeaki. Tony has had his ups and downs with the Chiefs, and obviously has fought through adversity by coming back from ACL surgery. I really think this is his make or break season. I really hope he makes it. It’s a copy cat league and the multi-tight end set is a formula that has been proven to work under the right circumstances. Tony Mo has proven that, when healthy, he can be productive for the Chiefs. I’d love to see these guys mount their horses and give an “OLE” at the end of the game against the Saints.
I’ve heard some folks who are down on new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, claiming he was a failure in New York. While I disagree with that assessment, I think Sutton has something to prove, being the guy who was handpicked by Kansas City savior, Andy Reid to lead the defense built by the Scott Pioli/Todd Haley/Romeo Crennel regime. The one thing we’ve heard about Sutton’s defense as it differs from the “bend don’t break” version of Crennel’s defense is that it will be more attacking. While I’m pretty sure I know what that means, I’m excited to finally see it in action against Drew Brees and the Saints.
Last season, when the Chiefs last met the Who Dat nation, Justin Houston had a breakout game. In fact, he perhaps had the play that changed the tide of the game and allowed the Chiefs to come back and win, which was a sack/safety against Drew Brees. If that’s what Houston could do when the defense wasn’t attacking, I can’t wait to see what they can do against when they are attacking.
#5: The Quarterback Battle
We know a few things for certain about the Chiefs’ quarterback situation. We know that Alex Smith is the starting signal caller. We know that apparent backup Chase Daniel was signed to a contract that would be ridiculous for a third string quarterback. That leaves the fight between Ricky “The Real American Hero” Stanzi and Tyler “The Kid” Bray.
If you’ve never read a single article I’ve written, you may not know that I was advocating for Bray to the Chiefs before it actually happened. I was calling for him to be drafted to the Chiefs before I even was writing for AA, in a comment of a mock draft article written by my fellow Addict writer, Miles Yi. That being said, I’m obviously pulling for Bray to be the winner of this battle.
All accounts from camp show that Bray has the edge in this battle. If Reid has watched any tape on Stanzi, that probably puts Bray that much further ahead of “The American Dream.” Stanzi hasn’t been able to find the field for the Chiefs in two seasons, and I really think his days are numbered in Kansas City. While I wish Ricky well, I’d really love to see Bray air it out and show Reid and Dorsey why they should continue to take a chance on him and develop him as the possible QB of the future the Chiefs so desperately need.
There it is, Addicts. These are the five things I’ll be watching for next Friday nights as the Chiefs travel to the bayou to take on the New Orleans Saints. Is there something you’re looking for? Let me know. I’ll recap next week and post my top five for the 49ers game. Ready or not, Chiefs football is here! Thanks for reading, and GO CHIEFS!!!