The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night for the very first preseason game of the year for both teams. Wins and losses don't matter in the preseason but it's still a valuable time, especially in a weird offseason like this.
So in looking at tonight's game, I found five things to look for/to remember/to watch for/something. (In fact, you can help us with this -- Chris and I are trying to come up with a cool name for this weekly post. Let us know in the comments).
Let's just make the running game still works, OK? Get out there, toss it to Jamaal Charles a couple times, run a couple sweeps, let Thomas Jones and Le'ron McClain pound it a couple times, too. Let's just make sure the running game still works because, ultimately, that's what matters this season. It's the Chiefs bread and butter. It's the most important part of the Chiefs success or failure. Let's just make sure all is good, even if that's a few plays. I'll be able to sleep better at night knowing JC is still the man.
The new guys need to get acclimated to the rest of the team. This is really what I want to see -- Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston and Le'Ron McClain. I want to see Kelly Gregg line up and I want to see Jared Gaither (even though I can almost assure you we won't see him anywhere but the sidelines). I want to see how the rookies, like QB Ricky Stanzi, react to their first preseason game. It's the first preseason game so I want to see all the new guys. As the KC Star's Sam Mellinger wrote this morning, the downside to this game is much greater than the upside so I just want to make sure these guys don't totally blow it.
Give me those backup quarterbacks. I want to see QB Matt Cassel for just a series or two but after that let's evaluate one of the most important positions -- Cassel's backup. I was talking with 610 Sports' Nick Wright on Thursday and he made a really good point -- you go into the season thinking you want 14 or 15 games out of your quarterback because of injury. What happens in those the other game(s)? We need to evaluate these rookie quarterbacks to find out. Heck, maybe a poor performance pushes the Chiefs to add a veteran. Or maybe their performance makes Haley feel more secure going into the season with them. We just don't know what we have but we do know it's important and they will play at some point in the regular season.
Pressure's on, Barry Richardson. People still talk about right tackle as a possible position upgrade. They still say Richardson is the weak link on the offensive line. The Chiefs pursued RT Jammal Brown in free agency but didn't get him. They did sign OT Jared Gaither. That should be giving B-Rich all kinds of motivation right now. How will he respond out there? Does he flounder under the pressure? Does he step it up and keep his job? I think this could be a good thing for Richardson if he responds well.
I want to see how this play calling goes down. Everything seemed so much smoother last year with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis calling the plays in the booth and Haley managing the game from the sidelines. Weis is now gone and Bill Muir is calling the plays. Will the Chiefs staff work together as well as they did last year? Will Muir handle the play calling throughout the game? Will Muir calling the plays tonight lead to him calling the plays on Sept. 11 and beyond? These are big questions because I think a big part of the Chiefs success was the way Weis and Haley worked together. I want to see Muir and Haley getting that same chemistry.