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
iswas 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.
- 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
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!