Chiefs preseason: Game 1 and the race for the AFC West

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Aug 15, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Fred Williams (83) celebrates after a second quarter touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in a preseason NFL football game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Sunday morning.  The first preseason game of the 2015 season is in the books.  Let’s talk about what it means (stick with me, its late now that I am writing).  In short for the Chiefs, the race is on in the AFC West.

The 2015 season for the Chiefs has taken a baby step. But, that’s all it is.  Its means neither that the sky is falling, nor that the team is a Super Bowl favorite.  The starting point was set.  That’s it.  From this point forward, every new, young or recovering player will accelerate toward the regular season.  They have learned the playbook, hit another team and been hit in return.  Now, they can focus on improving on whatever aspect of their game proved lacking.  Training camp shifts into another gear going forward.

Up and Down in Game One

Game one versus the Cardinals was a tale of two squads.  The starters were concerning in play and on the injury front.  The second and third string platoons were a different story.

The starters had a shaking first outing.  The Defense came out and gave up a TD on the first drive.  The Offense hit the field and gained eight yards and then gave up a turnover.  That’s not what they were hoping to accomplish, but its a starting point.

Chiefs need to exploit the young offensive line in order to put pressure on Peyton Manning – AFC West Race

The offense has a lot of new moving parts.  It will take some time to come together at game speed. There were plays to build on, however.  The starting offense had three plays over 15 yards; rushes by Smith and Davis as well as an Albert Wilson reception.  Chunk yardage plays like this are encouraging.  Defensively, the first team gave up an initial touchdown drive of 80 yards on seven plays.  They recovered to force a field goal on the Cardinals second drive which started on the Chiefs’ 18 yard line.

The second team made an impression.  Chase Daniel against the Cardinals twos was a mismatch.  You can ask the Chargers.  Charcandrick West showed explosiveness and some grit.  His performance, along with Fred Williams’, provided a spark.  If he can have another strong performance next week, he could begin to steal snaps from Knile Davis.

The most encouraging development of the night came on defense in the form of inside linebackers Ramik Wilson and Justin March.  You’ve seen my concern over the rushing defense and Josh Mauga in particular.  

Wilson, who started, and March led the team in tackles on the night.  Wilson’s tip interception was the only forced turnover of the contest.  Though Wilson needs to improve taking on blocks, he showed a knack for making plays.  March showed instinct and a decisive first step in defending the run.  He proved able to cover the pass and rush a bit as well.  He is developing into a solid all-around linebacker.  If he can continue his upward trend, he’ll press for playing time.

Next: AFC West Race is On