How Matt Flynn sees the world. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Match Up Well With Division Opponents

Don’t get too hung up on the Chiefs unimpressive display against San Francisco this week, if this preseason has taught us anything overall, it’s that the Chiefs are going to contenders in the AFC West.

Before I get into my overall piece I want to address why I’m not particularly worried by the Friday night game. Those reasons are:

  • San Francisco is a better team than Kansas City. We knew that before the game, we know it now.
  • Whether the 1st team played well or poorly would have not been a fair judge of its overall quality in this scenario one way or the other. In addition to it being preseason, the competition was even more warped by the fact that 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick threw just two passes.
  • It was also clear that the Chiefs were simply experimenting with some things on offense just for the heck of it rather than running a specific game plan. I had the impression all game that QB Alex Smith had been instructed to hold onto the ball longer and try to give some opportunities for WR Jon Baldwin to do something, anything deep, which is was his role in the offense. As usual, he did nothing. In the end, my hunch proved to be right. Both HC Andy Reid and OC Doug Pederson publicly admonished Baldwin for not making the most out of the opportunity and – whaddya know, he was traded today.

    “Buh-bye!” Little-reported fact, CB Vince Agnew (pictured) and a half-eaten ham sandwich were also included in the trade. John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

  •  In addition to this departure from the normal program, there were some obvious miscommunications on the offensive line. The team gave up seven sacks by the end of the game – nearly all to unblocked rushers coming off the edge. Getting overpowered by pass rushers shows a lack of talent, letting a guy come through untouched is a mental error and working through those is what preseason is all about.
  • Smith’s stats look bad, but those incompletions included at least three dropped balls that were on the money and a couple of throwaways. Many of those passes were decisions I don’t think he’d make in a normal game (see above) and one way or the other these stats would have balanced out by the end of the game.

Here are some things that I think we can take away from this game:

  • Special teams are going to be a major part of the Chiefs success and the team could lead the league in that phase of the game. In two games, the team now has four returns over 50 yards and one touchdown. If you think that’s a fluke, consider that those four returns came from four different players, three of which were on this team last year when they were in the bottom third of the league in return average. In fact, until Friday, the Chiefs hadn’t had a return for a touchdown since the opening kickoff of the 2010 season. P Dustin Colquitt has also proven himself to be among the best in the biz with three punts inside the

    One of many carries that Knile Davis did not fumble vs. San Francisco. John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    opponents’ five-yard line.

  • RB Knile Davis looks like he can be a reliable backup to Jamaal Charles. Obviously, Charles is by far the superior player, but Davis has shown that he can be the bell cow in a pinch and he also has the speed to be dangerous in space.
  • This Chiefs front seven is going to be naaasty, and that’s the main point I want to make.

I don’t know if any of you have watched much of the preseason showings by the Chiefs division opponents, but let me put it this way – it looked a lot like us last season.

On Thursday, the Chargers’ first-team O got absolutely manhandled by the Bears. Granted, the Chiefs gave up sacks, but not like San Diego did. QB Phillip Rivers was trying to get the ball out quickly as a part of HC Mike McCoy’s new offensive scheme, but it didn’t matter. His blockers were getting crushed instantly. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. remarked on the Football Today Podcast that the Chargers have probably the worst offensive line in the league and “it’s going to be a long year” for them. At LT, they have journeymen King Dunlap and Max Starks. At RT, they have 1st-round pick DJ Fluker who looked strong against the run but lost against the pass. Williamson isn’t alone in saying that this kid is probably destined to become a guard as he lacks the lateral mobility to keep up with pass rushers. It’s early to make that judgment on him, but he looked straight up bad in pass protection Thursday.

Oakland has similar woes. The whole left side of their O-line is made up of guys who weren’t in the league last year – LG Andre Gurode and LT Alex Barron. While the Chiefs marched down the field on offense against the Saints and essentially nullified them defensively, the Saints “toyed” with the Raiders, as ESPN’s Bill Williamson put it.

Add to this the fact that the Broncos have been run over by the injury truck with the middle of their O-line, and you see that the Chiefs are set to dominate up front in the division this year. OLB’s Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are going to tear through the Raiders’ and Chargers’ edge protection, and the Chiefs’ D-line is coming into its own just in time to take advantage of Denver’s depleted interior.

One thing the Chargers showed they do have in spades is the ability to pressure with their front seven (albeit against Chicago’s perennially crappy O-line). Denver also has OLB Von Miller to contend with, but I believe that Kansas City is going to have a top 10 O-line this year. Add to that the fact that the team finally has a quarterback that can think on his feet and deliver quick, accurate balls (when he’s not holding out to try and throw a bone to a disappointing, overdrafted child) and you see that we are going to get things done in this division.

Against Oakland’s pass rush, the Chiefs might as well go arena-style with three linemen and put seven out wide. In the red zone against the Saints, the Raiders rushed four and Brees literally held the ball for nine seconds before throwing a strike TD. Nine seconds. And, if you watch it, you see he seriously could have held it for nine more. The Raiders D-line was doing nothing.

Also, no one has been able to pass on the Chiefs’ first team secondary yet. I can’t wait to see Denver QB Peyton Mann – no I can’t wait to see Raiders QB Matt Flynn try.

Bring it on Faders, Donkeys and Dolts!

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Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug7:00Minnesota VikingsBuy Tickets

Tags: AFC West Alex Smith Jon Baldwin Matchups Preseason

  • PunjabiPete

    How come when Alex Smith throws a pass right to a receiver and said receiver drops it it’s on the receiver but when Cassel did it it was always on Cassel? Just curious…

    • d-block

      That’s not the case whatsoever. Not saying AS is the answer, but Cassel definitely wasn’t.

    • Michael Shaw

      Sorry buddy, but Cassel VERY RARELY threw the ball in the right spot last year, just ask McClusters busted up ribcage!! Most of his passes were too high and usually off the mark. He got more than one receiver hurt because of how off the mark he threw the ball and the receivers were trying to make lemonade out of Cassel’s lemons!! Not sure what happened but it was horrible and not much better for Quinn either.

    • Danny W

      Matt Cassel couldn’t hit anyone in stride. That’s a fact.

      • Chiefswatch

        Yes he could. Defenders caught his passes in stride all year.

        • RepOurChiefs


        • Danny W


    • Chiefswatch

      One pass compared to four years. You barely warrant a response.

      • PunjabiPete

        Thanks for being condescending. I’m sure you’re a delight to be around IRL.

        Anyway, I am all on the bandwagon that AC is an upgrade to MC (however small), just thought that was ironic. Yes, a lot of Matt Cassel’s passes were off the mark, but one of the knocks on Alex Smith is that he is Matt Cassel 2.0. I fail to see how if he’s the same QB how a dropped pass now is on the receiver, not the QB.

        The fact of the matter is Matt Cassel’s passes would routinely hit the hands of receivers as well, and bounce off, and that was somehow his fault. Yes, yes, I will concede he threw more than his fair share of “WTF” passes, but as I said back then, not all of those incompletions are on him. I was blasted for that. And everyone is basing AS drops based on his past few years, Chiefswatch, so my argument is valid and relative. If Alex Smith was Peyton Manning and a couple passes got dropped, it wouldn’t even warrant a story.

    • ArrowFan

      Smith is hitting them in stride. With Cassel it seemed the receiver never new where the ball was going to be.

  • Michael Shaw

    Nick! Love the optimism, but you really need to slow down on the kool aid!! LOL! Although I am secretly hoping everything goes exactly like you think it will!! We could use a great year for a change!!

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      I’m not saying they’re going to the playoffs or even that they will win the division, but early signs are that they will have some key advantages over Oakland and San Diego. If Denver’s O-line stays as crippled as it is, the Chiefs will also have a chance there.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Manning actually looked good against the Hawks it was the rest of the Broncos that were making stupid mistakes. Denver is still the team to beat in the West. I do think the Chiefs will be the second best team with a chance at a wild card depending on how fast the o line and offense in general get it together. Oakland and San Diego have a lot more problems than we do. The Chiefs should beat them both, then they have to beat the Bills, Browns, Titans, Colts, Jags and Cowboys. That would put the Chiefs at 10-6 and in the middle of the hunt for a wild card spot.

    The play of special teams and the D line, (Poe), gives me hope.

  • Danny W

    Honestly when I first read your title I wanted to scream. Then I read your article and I’m convinced we’ll compete on the contingency Alex Smith improves. I’m not quite as convinced as you are but I do have hope at least.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      The thing is, that the Chiefs could easily win most of its division games and still lose the division. The Broncos are going to be a beast this year and I’m not crazy enough to peg the Chiefs as a 12-win team.

      • Danny W

        Your article caught my attention to read it though. So good on you for that. I think the Broncos are in serious trouble along their defensive front now that Von Miller got six games, Dumerville is gone and Dwight Freeney is trying to get to the QB.

  • ArrowFan

    I agree the D has a chance to be epic this year. I think our kicking game was already very good but now our return game is going to be as well. Honestly if our O can at the least maintain some drives and not turn the ball over on others we will win a lot of games.