With the exception of Dwayne Bowe, the stars were not out on Saturday night. Judging by that game only, the Kansas City Chiefs should have a starting lineup without their newest multimillion dollar player Cassel, and instead have guys like Jovan Belcher, Rodney Wright, Brodie Croyle, and Dantrell Savage playing on a regular basis.
While its fairly well reported that Dwayne Bowe was being sent a message by being demoted to third team this past week, this message hurt more than just Bowe, it hurt his new quarterback, Matt Cassel, who clearly was being punished having to play with the likes of Terrance Copper and Devard Darling.
Matt Cassel's loss was Brodie Croyle's gain, as he had the opportunity to play with the two starting wide receiver from last season, Bowe and Mark Bradley. Croyle made the most of his fortune and went 12 for 18 for 145 yards.
While his playing time only led to one field goal, that was more due to Haley going for it on two consecutive fourth-down's than it was Croyle's inability to move the offense.
In fact, he seemed to do a very good job getting into a rhythm and threw the ball accurately to his wide receivers. He was already in the lead for the No. 2 spot behind Cassel, and if he has another game like this, he may lock it up for good.
For all teams, most preseason games follow the same type of mold—get the starters in just long enough to get some reps, and get them out before anyone is injured.
There is also an unwritten rule for coaches that you don't show any complex blitzes or formations before the games count for anything. You didn't see Miami running the Wildcat formation in preseason last year did you?
Because of this, I was expecting the Chiefs to run a base 3-4 defense for most of the game, and maybe show a 4-3 look every once in a while. But they didn't.
They did indeed run base 3-4 most of the game, but instead of showing the 4-3 a few times, I counted at least four times they showed a 2-5-4 formation, and a 1-5-5 formation once at the end of the game.
The Chiefs showing these formations really surprised me, and had me wondering what else they had up their sleeve scheme-wise that they are waiting for the regular season to unveil. While I'm not here to speculate exactly, it is an interesting subject nonetheless.
With the 2-5 formation, they mixed up the personnel quite a bit.
They showed it three different times on the second defensive series of the game, twice on back to back plays—first and 21 followed by second and 18. The two down linemen for these two plays were Ron Edwards and Tyson Jackson.
The third time that series they showed the 2-5, it was Edwards and Alphonso Boone as the linemen.
One the next defensive series, the third of the game, they showed the 2-5 once with Jackson and Alex Magee with their hands in the dirt.
Every time the Chiefs showed a 2-5 formation it was a passing down-and-distance for obvious reasons, and clearly with only two linemen, they both need to be stout against the run just in case the offense runs a draw play.
As far as the 1-5-5 formation goes, it was third and nine, at the end of the game, and I believe Houston had a 4WR set. I couldn't get a good look at the formation, as the camera was zoomed in, but there was one down lineman with three linebackers on the line rushing, with two more standing slightly behind them.
Seeing these formations immediately called to mind the Patriots, as Belichick is famous for running insane formations like the 2-5, 1-6, and even the 0-7 a few times. Pioli is clearly familiar with these, as Pendergast and the Cardinals did not run these formations last year.
As fans, expect to see the 2-5 on obvious passing downs, as Haley clearly believes the linebackers are a strength on this team, which is a drastic change from last year's squad.
Mays is no longer just competing for a roster spot on this team, he might be in a dead heat competition with Zach Thomas the starting spot next to Derrick Johnson. Since mini-camp he has impressed the coaches, and this past Saturday he was all over the place making plays.
In the short amount of time he was in, he accumulated five tackles, and one pass deflection. It seemed as though the announcer was calling his name every play.
Mays originally signed a contract with the Chiefs expecting to compete for a roster spot as a special teams ace and a backup linebacker. He has far exceeded those expectations thus far, and continues to impress everyone involved.
In the two seasons he's been in the NFL with Cincinnati and New England, he accumulated 38 special teams tackles, and that’s exactly what he was planning on doing here.
Evidently though, there was something inside of him that neither of those coaching staffs saw, something that has come out of him since he has been here in Kansas City.
Zach Thomas can be a valuable asset for the Chiefs whether he starts or not. If Corey Mays keeps playing this well, there is no way he should not be starting at the strongside inside linebacker position next to Derrick Johnson.