Good evening, Addicts. With the changing of the guard, our new Editor-in-Chief, Andrew (see what I did there?) has given me the reigns on the weekly “5 Keys to Victory” post, formerly written by our previous leader, Patrick. That being said, you can look for a weekly post from me the morning of the game (usually Sundays) and then a follow up post covering which five “keys,” if any, the Chiefs met.
Since one of Patrick’s final posts here at AA was the original “Chiefs vs. Saints: 5 Keys to Victory”, I’ll utilize Paddy’s keys and give them my spin. Patrick’s post is written in regular type and my follow up points are written in bold. Without further ado, here are his top five:
1. Jamaal Charles, please
Jamaal Charles is the most dangerous weapon the Chiefs have. He pretty much single-handedly defeated the Saints last season, giving the Chiefs their very first (and next to last) victory. He may only play on a limited basis but if Jamaal can heavily contribute to one TD drive, the Chiefs could be on their way to a win.
Jamaal had the ball in his hands early and often on the one series the first team offense was in the game on Friday night. Charles not only contributed to one TD drive, he scored the six himself and carried the ball either on the ground or through the air for 40 of the 81 yards the 14 drive play covered.
Key #1: Achieved.
The Chiefs were terrible at executing even the simplest of tasks in 2012. Whenever they did something right, they almost immediately followed it up with some kind of blunder. Can the 2013 squad play more focused football this season? We’re about to find out.
If we’re talking first team, the game plan was executed perfectly. The “1’s” on offense marched down the field and scored a touchdown on the opening drive. There were no penalties, no negative plays and Alex Smith was 7 of 8 through the air. It doesn’t get any more perfectly executed than that.
The first team defense followed up by coming on the field and stopping Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints offense dead in their tracks. After that, the execution broke down. The “2’s” and the “3’s” started making dumb mistakes and costly penalties. While the special teams play was fun to watch, fielding a punt on your own three yard line, or running a kickoff nine yards deep out of your endzone doesn’t scream “executing the game plan” either.
Key #2: Not Achieved.
3. QB Play
This is a key to victory every week but when your QBs have been as bad as Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi, you need to cling to the basics. One of the reasons the Chiefs didn’t win very much in the preseason in past years was because their QB depth was atrocious. Chase Daniel, KC’s primary backup, is a former Saint. He is going to want to perform well against his old team and he should be familiar with some of the personnel New Orleans has on defense. If Daniel can make the most out of his quarter, the Chiefs will be in good shape heading into the half.
I will say, with reservation (and those of you who know me, know this is tough) that the Chiefs may finally have a competent quarterback. I’ve been an Alex Smith fan through this whole offseason and before, and admittedly, I am rooting harder for him to succeed than some in Chiefs’ Kingdom, but I think he looked crisp, clean and damn near perfect on Friday night. The rest of the QB’s on this team not wearing #11 left a lot to be desired.
Chase Daniel looked extremely uncomfortable in the offense. Granted, the second string O-line didn’t give him much time, but when he should have been making a decision and throwing the ball, he was holding on for way too long.
I’ve been a Tyler Bray advocate since before he was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent following the draft. I truly hope he will secure the third QB position, but Friday night, he didn’t look like he is quite ready. His first series ended in a fumble (rookie mistake to be sure) and his passes were often off-target. However, he did have flashes of brilliance that gave me hope. The pass to fellow rookie TE, Travis Kelce, while high, was catchable. Kelce definitely would owe Bray a beer for that one, if they were old enough to drink.
Poor Ricky Stanzi was the worst of the group, which isn’t saying much. I have a feeling his days are truly numbered wearing Chiefs’ red and gold. The guy is one hell of an American, but not much of a professional football player.
Key #3: Not Achieved.
4. Reserve Secret Star
Every preseason, there is a surprise secret star hiding somewhere on the depth chart. Sometimes, that secret star can have a field day late in the game. Dexter McCluster, for instance, was a very dangerous preseason dump off weapon. McCluster was way more talented than the scrubs that were still in the game and was able to help the offense move the ball. Last year, Nate Eachus emerged as a tough runner and snagged himself a roster spot as a FB.
If some unknown player can make an impact late in the game, the Chiefs will be in business.
While not one single reserve stepped up under the Superdome, and led the Chiefs to victory, there were some flashes of excellence from some non-starters. The huge kickoff return late in the game by backup Knile Davis was definitely eye opening. He doesn’t quite have Jamaal Charles’ speed or cuts; his moves are much more subtle, but effective nonetheless. I think with a bit more return experience, he could have juked that final defender and made it all the way to the “house.”
On defense, I think OLB Frank Zombo showed some great hustle to the quarterback. He seemed to be in Saints’ backup QB, Luke McClown’s face. Tysyn Hartman also made a strong bid for his roster spot, by recording the game’s only interception. While no one completely took over, I think there is hope in second layer of the Chiefs’ roster indeed.
Key #4: Achieved
5. Jonathan Baldwin
If I am the New Orleans defensive coordinator, my first priority is Jamaal Charles, my second priority is Dwayne Bowe and my third priority is putting Alex Smith on his back.
If Jonathan Baldwin can make my third priority my fourth priority by making himself my third priority, the Chiefs should score enough points to win Friday night.
Jon who? ‘Nuff said.
Key #5: Not Achieved
By only hitting two of the five marks we set out for the Chiefs, it turned out to be a loss. As many have said already, there were some small “victories” and this is only preseason. The Chiefs’ “1’s” outscoring the Saints’ “1’s” 10-0 in the first quarter definitely speaks volumes for where the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs are since we last saw them on the field.
Still, until the Chiefs come away with a “W,” preseason or not, it will be tough to wash away the memories, or should we say nightmares, of last season.
I’ll see you Friday morning with my next “5 Keys to Victory” post as the Chiefs set out to face Alex Smith’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers. Until then, Addicts!