(picture via c.o0bc.com)
To say the least, there has been an enormous amount of hype surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs heading into the 2013-2014 season. With a fairly large roster turnover, one of the most highly respected head coaches in the NFL brought aboard, and a lot of new talent on the field in Kansas City, Chiefs fans have high expectations headed into this season.
So, now that the Chiefs have hit the field, and finished their first preseason game, which was a 17-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, I think that it is only appropriate to dissect what we saw last Friday. From top to bottom, I'll go in depth with what I saw, liked, and disliked about the teams performance vs. The Saints.
1st team offense- Seeing the Chiefs first team offense sure was intriguing. With new pieces on the offensive line, fullback, tight end, and quarterback, it was interesting to see everyone play together. To be honest, the first drive of the game by the Chiefs was everything I was hoping for and more. I haven't seen a Kansas City offense move down the field and move the chains so effortlessly since Trent Green was at the helm. Alex Smith took what the defense gave him, which was for the most part 5 or 6 yard crossing routes, slants and screens. Smith set up his targets for yards after the catch, and his pinpoint accuracy was on full display.
What I really liked, was something that the Chiefs teams of the past few seasons seemed to stay away from. Screen passes and play actions. On first down Smith let the pass rush get just close enough to him to give Charles some room to work with, and dumped it off to him for a four or five yard gain. Then on second down, Smith faked the handoff to Charles, rolled out, and found tight end Anthony Fasano for a first down. That type of play action is one that is incredibly hard to stop in most situations, and that play was absent in the Chiefs playbook for years. I also cannot remember a game where a screen pass was called on first down just to gain a few yards and make second down a whole lot easier. These play calls are nothing out of the ordinary for most teams, but it is good to see that these plays will be called in Kansas City once again.
Alex Smith did a good job of going through all of his reads and making the smart play, which was dumping it off to either Jamaal Charles or Anthony Sherman who were coming out of the backfield. On one play, Smith looked off a linebacker in zone coverage near Sherman, and then dumped it off to Sherman who had some room to pick up yards after the catch. It was an all around nice play.
The offensive line looked good on running downs, with big holes for Jamaal Charles to run through. Number one overall pick Eric Fisher did suffer a minor thumb injury, but he looked good on running and passing downs as well. He rode the defensive end well and gave Smith time to throw.
The Chiefs had an all around good first drive from top to bottom. Charles had the same burst he had always had, the offensive line was stable, Smith had good accuracy and made good decisions, and passes were caught. It really is a shame that a fan gets so excited after one touchdown drive, but that is how bad these Kansas City offenses have been lately.
2nd team offense- The second team offensive line did not look so good on their first drive. Daniel didn't have any time to throw on the first passing down, and the two running plays were blown up quickly. Now, it should be noted that the majority of the Saints defensive first team was on the field. So, the second team offensive line struggling should not be surprise. But, they also struggled vs. the second team defense. Chase Daniel had absolutely no time to let the routes develop.
For the running game, Knile Davis seemed very hesitant with the ball in his hands, and didn't show the burst and will to run over a defender that he did on his kick returns or at Arkansas. One of the main reasons Davis was brought in, was because he is the ideal change of pace back to go along with the speedy, shifty Jamaal Charles. It isn't Davis' job to be shifty, but to run in between the tackles and give the defense something they will not see with Charles in the backfield. Davis also dropped a pass that could have set himself up for a first down.
Chase Daniel did look accurate throwing the ball, and didn't look too bad running out of the pocket once it had collapsed. Daniel didn't have much to work with, plus with a bad offensive line and such a small sample size, you cannot say much about his performance.
Devon Wylie did get open a few times and ran a few good routes which was good to see, especially looking back to last season, when he had trouble keeping his feet under him when making cuts. Wylie was such a hot topic in Kansas City when he was drafted in 2012, but injuries and lack of production held him back last season. It will e interesting to see if he can secure a roster spot for himself this preseason.
Tyler Bray running the offense (3rd team)- Shaughn Draughn showed good burst hitting the hole on his first carry, which is something I haven't seen from Draughn before. In limited playing time last season, I liked what I saw from Draughn and thought that he could become a productive backup with some good coaching, in a productive offense. He has his chance to show the coaching staff what he can do in this training camp.
Bray didn't have a chance to make too many throws without pressure in his face, but when the pocket was clean, he was accurate and showed nice footwork. His footwork was all over the place in college, and I'd imagine that Andy Reid has been on his case about his feet in camp.
Travis Kelce, a very intriguing rookie tight end found himself open a few times, one was for about a fifteen yard gain, and the other could've been a reception for a touchdown, but he couldn't hang onto the pass.
Next week, I would definitely like to see some more of Tyler Bray's arm in action, and I'd hope that he has more time to spread the ball around and show what he can do.
Ricky Stanzi running the offense (3rd team)- Ricky Stanzi may have gotten a raw deal when playing time was taken away from him in his rookie season by Tyler Palko, but he had his chance to take over the starting role last season when both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn struggled. If it was up to me, Stanzi would be cut as soon as possible, althouh that is harsh, so that Tyler Bray can get as many reps as he can and develop as quickly as possible. But, the guy needs to and will be given a chance in the preseason, and similar to Bray, it was hard to see how accurate and strong Stanzi's arm was. Ricky did make a few nice throws to Demetrius Harris and Rico Richardson, and looked comfortable in the pocket with pressure near.
Stanzi did display some good athleticism and mobility when he rushed for a first down once the pocket collapsed.
Rico Richardson, who was said to have been having a nice camp, got some separation on a crossing route and Stanzi set him up for yards after the catch. Demetrius Harris, the highly talked about athlete who has not played football since high school, dropped a short pass over the middle. Cyrus Gray had no room to work with on either of his runs and gained only two yards on a screen pass.It is extremely hard to tell how good or bad these guys really are when they are playing against little to no talent, and have no talent on their side of the ball, either. Practice is where coaches get to see what they really can do, and games are where it all is supposed to be put together.
All and all, I loved what I saw from the first team offense, and the second team was just average. The second team offensive line will need to improve so that the offense can be effective and we can really see these layers play. The play calling was much different than what Chiefs fans have been accustomed to for the past few years, and it seems that Alex Smith was told to take what the defense gives you. That's what Alex did in San Fran and it was affective there.
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