Chiefs Vs. Ravens: I Saw What I Saw

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 19: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin #81 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by safety Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Does it take an egotistical man to swipe a line from Shakespeare?  I don't know, you tell me.  But I DID see a few things last night.  Things worth seeing.  Of course, given the fact that it was a meaningless game, it's tough to know if what I saw is in fact what I thought I saw while seeing it.  See?

I should warn you, I'm going to attempt something different this week; a serious post on what actually occurred in the game!  I know, I know, I'm not sure how it's going to go either.  But I think I wore out the sarcastic side of my brain (left side sarcastic, right side sincere, right?  I'm pretty sure that's how it works.  Or is it the sarcastic bone that's in the elbow?  Anatomy is not my strong point) last week so how about I try to write something meaningful?

I don't know what the rule is about pimping other guys' breakdowns, and frankly I don't care.  Check here to see hmills give some great coverage on the early part of the game, and here to see BJ give us a snapshot of a few plays.  Both are well worth the read whether you're a fanatic or... OK, let's face it, 99% of the people who will read this are either AP members, lurkers, or people who Googled "Chiefs".  All of whom are fanatics.  So let's just move onto what I saw.  

Thomas Jones was not wearing a WWF title belt labeled "enforcer"

OK, I said this was going to be serious, and I swear the rest are serious (kind of) observations.  However, I felt this warranted a mention.  Apparently the Chiefs don't hand out title belts for veteran guys laying it down on cocky rookies.  That's a shame.  Of course, since we don't know anything about what actually happened, it could well be that TJ was giving Jonathan Baldwin a swirly and Baldwin was stupid enough to fight back (of course, giving a guy that tall a swirly brings all kinds of complications to the table, so this MAY not be the most likely explanation).  No matter how it happened, I think teams should hand out a belt to the winner of training camp scuffles.  Or at least play "We Are The Champions" for him as he runs onto the field.  It's the least they could do.

On a side note, is anyone else concerned that it was apparently TJ who meted out discipline in the locker room?  I guess I'm a little worried.  TJ isn't long for this team (he's almost certainly gone after this year or next), and we need one of our vaunted young stars to step up and be that guy.  Remember when Ryan Leaf was freaking out on a reporter and seemed like he was about to get physical?  Ol' Junior walked up and very gently guided Leaf back towards his locker while standing between the two.  Leaf kept yelling, but he stopped advancing on the guy.  Know why?  Because Junior Seau would beat the ever-living crap out of Ryan Leaf if he had to.  We need a guy like that who ISN'T a year or two from retirement.  Eric Berry, I'm calling YOU out.  You made the Pro Bowl and were our best player in a playoff game.  You're also a certified bad mother$%#@%.  It's time that you made your presence more felt in situations like that.  I want to hear things like this...

"According to reports, Jonathan Baldwin and Jamaal Charles nearly came to blows yesterday.  However, things quickly cooled down when Eric Berry shouted something from across the field and merely pointed at Baldwin.  The rookie then walked away, leaving Charles to continue being the greatest thing since toilet paper."

 

Justin Houston is going to give Studebaker a run for his money sooner rather than later

Just one game, I know.  Justin Houston was late for camp, I know.  Andy Studebaker is the reincarnation of Mike Vrabel, I know.  It's just one preseason game in which Houston was playing against scrubs, I KNOW.  But hear me out anyways, and then agree with me.  Trust me, it'll be easier on both of us.  Because I'll talk the ears right off your head until you agree.  

Houston just played a stud game last night.  If you look at the stat box you already see the two sacks.  But he was also in the QB's grill multiple other times, and on at least two other occasions had any QB but Taylor "I can run like a deer" Tyrod (who I am convinced is Josh Johnson under a pseudonym) dead to rights.  Need more?  

He also was about 5 yards ahead of everyone else on our first punt and made a great play to cause that fumble.  I've seen people giving Jackie Battle props for recovering it, but what about the job Houston did?  He dove in and used his left arm to punch the ball out of the returner's hands.  Just a veteran move by the rookie.  Not to mention the hustle that got him into position in the first place.  Need more?

OK, this point stems from the last I made, and I've seen others allude to it.  But Justin Houston is a football player.  He takes great angles, doesn't seem to fall for fakes, and puts himself in a position to make plays.  Now that kind of thing stands out whether you're playing against scrubs or a Pro Bowl team.  Andy Studebaker got absolutely faked out of his jock on a couple of play action plays (one of which is covered in the links provided if you don't believe me).  I didn't see that happen to Houston.  That does NOT bode well for Stude, seeing as Houston is just two preseason games into his career and Stude's been in the league for years.

And also, for all the talk of Stude's "measurables" and how his combine stats are every bit as impressive as Houston's, he just doesn't look as fast or strong out there when rushing the QB.  On one play in particular (the incomplete pass that was incorrectly ruled a fumble, then correctly overturned), Stude gets nothing more than a love tap from a blocker before getting a clear shot at Joe Flacco.  He then proceeds to take what feels like 3 full seconds to get to the QB, by which time the ball has been thrown (or "pumped" in this case).  He not only looked a little slow, but he also took a "rounded" route to the QB despite the clear path.  When there's no blocker there, you run right to the QB, Stude.  

Hey, it's just one game, and for all I know Stude will look like a stud next week.  But he did nothing to stand out that I saw.  In the meantime, Houston was our defensive MVP.

Le'Ron McClain is going to make a difference for us

I'll only take a few words for this "Duh!" point.  But as mills points out in his post (seriously, read it), we were actually GAINING a few yards running right up the gut, even in clear running situations.  That didn't happen last year.  Now, part of the credit should probably go to Big Jon Asamoah for adding more power to our interior line.  But really, you can see the difference when McClain hits the line (with or without the ball) as opposed to our other FB's and RB's.  Dude has power and even some speed.  Good stuff.

Mike Cox is not a feature running back

OK, I put that in there to make sure you're paying attention.  Those snaps when we had him in there as a running back were painful.

Dexter McCluster is back, and moving him to the backfield was a good idea

Hey, hey, who IS that guy?  Why, it's the guy I remember from the Jaguars game last year!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, go re-evaluate your status as a Chiefs fan.  It was Dex's best game until he got hurt.  It was also a game in which they were using him almost exclusively out of the backfield.  

Let's face it, 4 runs for 24 yards and 3 catches for 47 yards isn't all that impressive.  But... doing it in one half of play while seeing limited action IS.  Being the key player in a two minute drill (sorry, Tyler Palko) IS.

If Dex contributes roughly that amount of stats per half this year, it's a huge win for us.  He looks like himself again, making guys whiff on tackles as he drops beneath their arms (honestly, how cool was that play?) and making cuts that no one else can make.  He also looks much more comfortable coming out of the backfield as a receiver.  And VERY importantly, we can run similar plays to Dex and JC, which favors our line's style of play.  He's just as fast and can make runs TJ cannot (the ones that require a quick burst through the hole or around the edge). 

I don't think it's at all premature to say that Dex will rush 128 times for 768 yards while catching 96 passes for 1,504 yards.  I mean, it only makes sense given his numbers last night.  Right?

Jerrell Powe was, is, and forever will be, a steal

Bfett covers this well here, and a gif (or 4) is worth a thousand words.  Those gifs are very representative of how Powe played last night.  He is not someone that a center can match up with, just shoving Baltimore's centers back when blocked one-on-one.  Even better, he seems to have a good awareness of his gaps and played a part in some nice stops by our defense.  He looks good.  And not "good for a 6th rounder" good, but "ready to help the defense" good.

Also, in BJ's post (seriously, READ THE LINKS and thank me later) he talks about Powe's hustle on a a screen play.  He showed great awareness and surprising athleticism on the play.  Awesome stuff.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; Powe fell to the 6th because of a down senior year in which he was asked to be a gap shooter, as well as a poor combine.  Well guess what?  It turns out his ability to be a gap shooter and his 40 time have absolutely nothing to do with his ability to be a 2-gap-run-stuffing-center-shoving-manbeast NT.  Who woulda thought?  

Jamaal Charles looks like Jamaal Charles, Cassel-to-Bowe is going to be good, and Eric Berry is great at hitting people and stopping them in their tracks

All short, sweet, and unsurprising points.  You know what?  I'm not even going to bother to break any of those points down.  If you watched, you know.  If you didn't watch, well... Take my word for it?  I swear I'm an honest man.

We still aren't seeing much from receivers 2-5

Breaston and Urban didn't do much, and Tony Moeaki dropped an easy first down (Raiders last year, anyone?).  I don't know what the crap went down with Baldwin, but unless Urban is 5x better at getting open during the regular season, he's not a #2 receiver.  Steve Breaston is a proven commodity, but he's better as a slot WR who can line up all over the place and use his quickness.  We need Baldwin to get healthy and get his head in straight.  We're counting on you, Todd.  Break him.

I hope at this time next week I'm laughing and shaking my head at my own (very slight) worry.  I still like Breaston and Urban WAY better than our options this time last year, so for now I'm still cautiously optimistic.  But if we have another week in which our receivers look constantly blanketed... well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

David Mims is a project, not a NFL caliber LT

Most know this about Mims, but I've been intrigued by the guy.  Here's the deal with him, for those who want to see beyond the jokes: he's got poor, slow footwork.  I mean REALLY poor, slow footwork.  Any speed rusher or even average guy performing a stunt is going to go right around him at this point.  However... once he gets his hands on a guy, he absolutely stonewalls him.  In his tracks.  It's kind of cool to see, actually.

Frankly, I don't see "stud LT" in his future.  RT?  If he gets about 3x better with his footwork, he could be an animal at that position.  I won't hold my breath.

Last but not least, Thomas Jones looks pretty good right now

I'm not going to back off my assertion that TJ needs to get fewer carries this year.  He does.  With Dex and McClain getting some backfield duties, it'd be stupid to not lighten his load.  But as of right now, he looks pretty decent.  He showed the speed to get to the outside (barely, but still), which is good news.  He also showed a little burst and agility on his runs.  He's not JC (who is?), but he doesn't seem to be running in molasses like he was at the end of last year.

This just screams "keep me fresh and I'll make an impact!" to me.  I think if we keep his carries limited, we'll see this version of TJ all year as opposed to just the first half.  10 carries a game seems about right to me.  Keep him looking good, Todd!  

I could go on, but like I said, you'll find other breakdowns at the links I provided (and that were front paged as well). Read them!  Do as I command!  Kneel before Doom!  Pretty please?

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