There is very little if anything that one can conclude from a single preseason game. But, that sure was fun.
To give you an example of how little we can derive from this game in the way of regular season hints — neither team had a player with more than two catches and Aaron Murray, everyone’s favorite QB, didn’t throw a single pass.
I will likely spend a decent portion of my weekend revisiting the tape and pouring over individual performances, but these were my impressions thus far:
The main thing that struck me is the way the Chiefs very much looked like the team that ended the 2013 season in both good ways and bad. Defense and special teams came up with three touchdowns on returns and were again the deciding factor in the win.
This honestly surprised me, not because I didn’t think the Chiefs were capable of it, but because in the NFL turnover and special teams scoring trends almost always regress back to towards the mean. In other words, it is very unlikely the Chiefs will get so many big plays and scores from those two areas two years in a row. But, with the addition of rookie returners De’Anthony Thomas and Albert Wilson and DB’s that are still snagging the ball, the team looks poised to have another great year.
However, those same DB’s continue to be my biggest concern.
A defense this talented simply should not be allowing 31 points including scores on the opponent’s first two drives. The defense’s magic didn’t really start until Cincinnati’s backups hit the field in the 2nd quarter. Meanwhile, the Chiefs 1st-team offense got off to a slow start, gaining just 33 yards on its three drives in the 1st quarter before being spelled by the 2’s.
We can officially be excited about TE Travis Kelce
This guy has gotten chatter for over a year now, but we haven’t really had a chance to see him live up to it. Having been on IR all last season, we heard the coaches rave about him and showed him confidence by not bringing in another tight end this offseason. I’m always skeptical about relying on players we haven’t seen do much when the lights are on, but Kelce has now definitively given us reason to hope. His 69-yard touchdown catch was highlight of the night as QB Chase Daniel hit him perfectly in stride, making up for an earlier awful pick-6.
If you look at De’Anthony Thomas’ tape you can make the case that he is an upgrade over Dexter McCluster and he’s already showing it. He’s so small opposing players lose track of him, but he still shows great toughness and concentration despite constantly being the tiniest human on the field. During his brief stint in the booth late in the game, Peter King said that HC Andy Reid recommended he keep an eye on Thomas WR Albert Wilson. Both turned up big in this game, and they’re not done.
I really hope GM John Dorsey continues his policy of automatically claiming off of waivers every player the Seattle Seahawks release. It looks like the team got another diamond from the rough in DE Jaye Howard. Just like starting CB’s Ron Parker and Marcus Cooper, Howard was signed after Seattle’s cuts before the 2013 season and he looked like the best D-lineman on the field last night as he took over 1st-team snaps from injured veteran Mike Devito. He pulled off the team’s only sack by bursting through Cincinnati’s O-line like a hot knife through butter, taking down the signal caller right after he faked a handoff.
Safeties showing me something
Like I said above, I remain very concerned about the Chiefs’ defensive backfield. That might change a bit once CB Sean Smith is no longer grounded and is back in the starting lineup — which he’s gotta be now, right? But, safeties Malcolm Bronson and Daniel Sorenson, whom I previously dismissed as “camp bodies,” made some big plays out there. They also were caught out of position on a few big plays for the Bengals and they remain very raw. But, I am far less panicked about the idea of one of them having to take the field for considerable time this season.