On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs lost 17-16 on a Hail Mary to the Seattle Seahawks.
It starts the 2016 season on an odd note, with the Chiefs having blown a 16-6 lead in the final minutes of the first preseason game. While the end result was disappointing, Kansas City should be quietly giddy about the way everything unfolded.
First off, forget the Hail Mary. The play happened with fourth-stringers on the field and a scheme that somehow allowed single coverage on a play that calls for prevent defense. Everybody on the field for that play is getting released in two weeks.
The important topics were covered well before the decisive play.
For starters, second-round pick and the Chiefs’ top selection, Chris Jones, looks terrific. Jones was credited with two tackles, but that doesn’t come close to doing his performance justice. Against Seattle’s second team, Jones was constantly in the opposition’s backfield, including on a key fourth-down stop in the second quarter.
When general manager John Dorsey drafted Jones, he envisioned the 310-pound defensive lineman as a wall against the run and a penetrating force against the pass. In his first NFL action, he was all that and then some. Jones’s best play? Reading a screen and blowing up the entire play. It showcased athleticism and knowledge for a young kid who has immense physical ability.
Speaking of rookies, Tyreek Hill showed why there is so much hype surrounding the fifth-round choice. Hill only caught one pass for six yards, but he also had 49 kick return yards on two attempts. Hill’s most intriguing play of the game was when he torched All-Pro corner Richard Sherman on a slant route, only to have Nick Foles throw behind him.
Lastly, we saw the first-team offense look great. After getting the ball at midfield, the offense put together an eight-play touchdown drive, capped off by a Spencer Ware one-yard touchdown. Ware carried five times for 24 yards on the opening sequence while Alex Smith completed 3-of-4 for 36 yards. Smith made a beautiful throw to Jeremy Maclin on a third down that went for 20 yards and brought Kansas City to the Seattle 1-yard line.
Most importantly on that drive was the play of the offensive line. Kansas City was able to protect Smith and continuously blew open huge holes for both Ware and Charcandrick West throughout the remainder of the first quarter.
Yet not everything looked to be in midseason form. The first-team defense struggled some, allowing big runs up the gut and easy completions (although the completions were more on the vanilla, off-man scheme). However, the group was bailed out by the most predictable outcome possible, an interception by Marcus Peters in the end zone.
The biggest and perhaps only real concern coming out of the game was Dee Ford. Ford was twice caught inside, losing the edge against the run. This has been a consistent problem for Ford and one he apparently can’t fix, or at least couldn’t on this day. If Ford can’t make a positive impact while Justin Houston is out, the defense will struggle at times.
All told, head coach Andy Reid had to leave Arrowhead Stadium with a small smile. The scoreboard might say otherwise, but the Chiefs had the look of a winner in their opener.