Well Chief's fans, its a preview to what we've all been waiting for. Its game week. Since its preseason, its only right that we prepare for the season as well. Its time to break out the grills, stock up on meat, pump up the football and purchase your tickets. We take tailgating damn near as serious as we do for the football team. Shoot, we care more about tailgating at the Chiefs games than anything that has to do with the Royals.
Heading into the 1st preseason game, I'm going to compile a list of things to watch, both Positive and Negative. After the preseason, I plan on re-visiting the post to reflect on what we learned from preseason. The day before the 1st game, I will release my season predictions and hope they go well. Plus, that will give us something to debate in the final hours for the Opening Game against Baltimore.
First, let's start with the positives.
1. New Attitude. Coach Haley has brought a whole new atmosphere to the team. He's held a very physical camp thus far, which is great. Herm was somewhat conservative in his camps and that hurt us. We were clearly not ready for game speed at the start of last season. Haley has a hardnosed, no nonsense approach which is great. You can divide most coaches into two catagories. Players Coach and Team Coach. A Players Coach tends to be friendly with most players, they point out mistakes and have you try again. They deal with these mistakes over and over. They coach you to be better but they dont really get after you. Team Coaches dont care about any individual on the field. If a player messes up, no matter who he is, hes going to be hounded. Hes going to run. If someone makes a mistake, depending on what it is, the whole team is going to suffer. I love that approach because it simulates a game situation. In practice, if you fumble, you get the ball right back and try again. You dont learn from it. In a game, you turn the ball over and the whole offense fails. 1 player mistake can affect the whole team. By getting in the players face, making him run, benching him, whatever, you are planting in his head to not make mistakes. If you turn the ball over, the whole team runs. Good. Because in a game situation, you'd be running to the sidelines anyway.
2. Better Shape. Last year, we were not conditioned well. This was evident in the 2nd half, specifically the 4th quarter. NYJ? TB? SD2? 3 games we easily could have won. Better conditioning may have been the difference. 7 games by 7 points or less? Those are games that are winnable if you execute. If youre tired and making mistakes mentally, we dont stand a chance. IMO, thats what happened way too frequently last season. Being in shape may not win us any games, but in gives us a much better chance. The 4th quarter is where games are won and lost. Being in top shape keeps you focused late in the game.
3. Secondary. Our secondary WILL be one of the best in the league. This year? I dont know. But we have a strong unit who will continue to play together, bond, and grow. With more experience, these guys are deadly. Not only do we have a great CB tandem, but also a great Safety tandem. Page has shown he can be a ball hawk at Free Safety by putting up 10 INT's in his first 3 years. He had Jared Allen putting pressure on QB's for a bit, but with a more consistant pass rush, coming from all directions like they will be in the 3-4, that should only help his numbers. Page has shown he can hit also. Bernard Pollard led the team in tackles last year. Thats not a good thing, but there is a positive way to look at it. Pollard has been in a Tampa 2..but hes not that guy. The Strong Safety position is primarily Run Support. Yes, they do cover as well, which has been Pollards weakness, but the guy can hit and hit hard. Hes a bonecrusher and with more experience, will thrive. Mike Brown excelled at both aspects. He was a great ball hawk. He could drop back in coverage, read the play/QB and jump the route. But he was also a great tackler which helped him in run support. Page and Pollard can both learn from Brown.
4. Cassel. We have a traditional QB, period. Hes tall, hes smart, hes a born leader. What else can you ask for? His accuracy isnt bad and will continue to get better. He's proved he can play with players around him. But can he bring out the best in his players? That remains to be seen. The spotlight is on him this year. The team is his. Since the departure of TG, we no longer have a 'face of the franchise'. I wouldnt quite give that to LJ, though I like what I've heard this offseason. This is Cassels chance to prove all the naysayers wrong.
5. Dorsey. Though he showed up out of shape, he has whipped himself back in shape and made some plays in camp. Last year, he was not used to his ability. At LSU, he was a penetrator. He'd fight into the backfield to make tackles or put pressure on the QB. So far, in the 3-4, he has done just that. Thats great to hear from camp reports considering some people thought we were planning on trading him and that "he wont work out" as a DE in the 3-4.
6. Hali. Again, this is based on Camp Reports like Dorsey. Hali took some time, but has adjusted fairly well to OLB. I havent heard much on his coverage, but as a point was made before, there are many 3-4 OLB's who dont drop back and cover very often. Ware, Harrison, guys like that. Hali has gotten after the QB and hopefully he has developed an inside move so that hes not relying on his speed around the corner all the time. That resulted in too many over pursuits and missed tackles. From what I've heard, I like Hali's transition and I think he will handle it well.
7. DJ. I've heard his name alot so far in camp. Learning from Z. Thomas is going to work wonders from him. Beisel and Vrabel will have a hand in teaching him too but learning from a tackle machine like Thomas is really going to make the difference for DJ. Hes batted down balls, gotten after the QB and made some hits in camp. I like what I've heard about him thus far and he should do well with the support that he has.
8. LJ. We've all had this talk. LJ is on a contract year, hes been whipped into line by Pioli and Haley and he feels hes going to thrive. He mentioned being apart of a power run offense and that he is excited to be the premier back. Im estatic about this, but I still have my eye on him. I'm waiting until he has less than 20 carries, while Charles grabs about 10-15 that LJ COULD have had. If we lose a game like that, we should really see a true reaction from LJ. If he handles it well, than hes on board to the fullest in my book. So far, he's also had a great camp, shedded wait and shouldnt be getting caught from behind anymore. I cant wait for his 1st big run.
9. Charles. Hes fumbled a few, but hes had a fairly good camp. Hes broke off some big runs but most importantly, hes a deadly weapon. He'll make the screen productive again and should see many balls coming his way out of the backfield. The rest..well..thats up to him to make it happen. He has a great attitude this year and I'm excited to see him play.
That covers most of the positives that I have noticed about camp. These are simply things I have noticed and taken a positive note from. EVERYONE in camp has something go wrong but its how they rebound from that. Cassels thrown picks, Charles has fumbled the ball, the Secondary has allowed big gains, but thats football. These are just things that I've come to be very excited about heading into the season.
Now for the negatives.
1. OL. The D is getting too many sacks. Cassel has thrown some picks and I think pressure is probably the likely cause. Not saying Cassel cant throw a bad pass, but I do think the OL has something to do with it. LJ and JC have been stuffed quite a bit. There is a positive taken from this though as the DL must be doing their job to stop the run. But, is this because the DL is playing good, or because the OL is playing bad? I havent heard alot about Albert or Waters or Goff so that may be a good thing. I havent heard much about Niswanger either. Could it be that with the addition of Goff, he no longer has to worry about Adrian Jones mistakes? I have seen reports about D-Mac getting beat a few times which is not a good sign..
2. Vrabel, Beisel, Thomas. These guys have missed alot of practices. Why havent Engram, Toomer, or Goff been sitting out as much as these guys? These guys are missing more time than I expected and I'm not happy about it. I do agree they should have days to rest but all of them? I mean..shouldnt they all play together 1 day, maybe Vrabel have this day off and Thomas that day off. I think its a bad approach to have 2 or more of these guys off at the same time. Its just..not good preparation. They need to be playing together with the 1st team defense. IMO, they should suit up EVERY DAY, and just maybe not participate in the full practice.
3. Bowe. This one concerns me. Bowe has dropped many passes in his 1st 2 seasons as a Chief and thus far in camp, its not getting any better. Dont get the wrong idea, I am NOT comparing these guys except for in the way I'm about to explain. Samie Parker. He dropped ALOT of easy passes. He dropped some tough ones too. But wasnt it frustrating to see him make a great catch for a big gain, and then turn around and drop the simple 5 yard catch with open field in front of him? DBowe is WAYYYY more talented than Parker, but if he cant catch the ball, hes heading in the same direction. Bowe makes some spectacular catches but he drops some easy ones. I hope he shakes this off. Maybe he should get some new gloves..
4. Nose Tackle. Tank hasnt stepped up in camp and taken the spot from Ron Edwards. This could spell trouble, but remains to be seen. For that reason, I'm not going to elaborate on this until I see them in action.
5. Offense. In general..the defense has been dominating over the Offense from what I have read. Again, that raises the question, is it because our O is that bad, or because our D is that good?
In closing, these are general thoughts about the team from initial impressions of training camp reports. Much of these positives and negatives are simply things that I'm looking for in camp. I'm looking to be proved wrong on each side. Hopefully, none of the positives are proven false, and all of the negatives are proven false.