It was yet another disappointing trip to Arrowhead Stadium for myself this weekend. Preseason games are an awkward time for a fan who'd prefer to scream his head off on every defensive snap. To yell or not to yell? My surroundings tell me yes, but my brain tells me to save the energy. I usually end up semi-yelling, more under my breath than anything, but still going through the motions.
You know, just like the players on the field.
It really IS preseason for everybody. Oh well, at least there is still tailgating, which I got to enjoy next to a family of St. Louis Rams fans. I'd like to think it was their first exposure to some tailgating action (unless they do so before Cardinals games).
Best impression made on neighboring Rams tailgaters - A lady member of my party bonging a beer in under 9 seconds. She's a keeper.
Worst impression made on neighboring Rams tailgaters - Myself, getting embarrassed 15-0 in the first game of Bags on the night. Oy vey.
On to the goods….
Chiefs v. Rams: The Best and the Worst:
Worst time to be a Kansas City Chiefs fan - The preseason. Not only for the reasons stated in my opening monologue, but my god, how bad are the Chiefs in preseason football? Looking back, I don't remember my opinion on the team ever receiving a boost from their four exhibition games. They have won one of 11 games under Todd Haley's reign. They are 3-16 in the last five preseasons. I'm not the kind of guy to overreact to preseason results (however, I tend to think they are more telling than most people), but it would be nice to open a season without that worry creeping on the mind (no matter how far back it may be).
Best observation heard from a fan that obviously had no idea what she was talking about - "It's just practice? Well, why don't they practice winning?" At first I laughed, but after it marinated, I was preaching the brilliance of it.
Best outcome - The linebacking corps. Derrick Johnson has been the best player on the field for the Chiefs this preseason. He was a man on a mission in the first half, and it wasn't only his interception (always seems to catch those tough ones, and drop the ones between the numbers) and his sack. The way he was shedding blocks in the running game and making plays in the backfield was very impressive. On top of DJ, Justin Houston showed he could get after the quarterback yet again, and Cam Sheffield continues to show flashes. My biggest worry is Andy Studebaker, who lost outside containment one too many times on Steven Jackson. I was also impressed with…
Best performance by a player in competition for a starting job - Jovan Belcher. While his only actual true competition, Brandon Siler, is lost for the season, I saw Belcher make a few great plays in the backfield. Despite his physical limitations (he should never be 1-on-1 with a TE like he was for the Rams' second TD), I believe Belch has the ability to play, and start, in this league (which most of you may disagree with).
Worst aspect of the team according to Herm Edwards - The lack of starting competition. While Herm was all about creating competition at every position, this team has very little of that. Assuming Kendrick Lewis is a lock along with Belcher, the only potential competition is at outside linebacker, wide receiver, and right tackle. It remains to be seen if this is a good or a bad strategy. After all, Herm only won six games in his final two seasons as Chiefs head coach (although I would place at least some of that blame on the Chiefs going all in with Vermeil at the helm, leaving Herm with a bare cupboard).
Worst performance by a player in competition for a starting job - Barry Richardson. 3 holding penalties, 'nuff said.
Worst outcome - 14 rushing yards in the first half. We have yet to see Charles come up with a good play this preseason (one that actually counted that is). His longest run is 4 yards. It's definitely not time to freak out about the best player on our team, but that doesn't mean we should feel good about it either. And you have to wonder if the departure of Charlie Weis could have a negative impact on the running game. He is seen as more of a QB guru, however if I remember right, the Patriots running game depreciated after Weis left.
Best jersey sighting - Grant Wistrom #98 Rams jersey. Go Huskers!
Worst jersey sighting - Tony Gonzalez #88 Atlanta Falcons jersey. Not sure what this guy was trying to prove exactly. Is he a Chiefs hater? A huge Tony G fan? I threw a hot dog at him before I got a chance to find out.
Best/Worst of the week (in search of a sponsor for this weekly segment - something that is both the best and the worst at the same time - suggestions welcome) - Haley's decision to accept a holding penalty after forcing the Rams offense into a 4th down. I liked the call (especially in the preseason) because it pushed them out of field goal range, but the defense couldn't come through, and may have lost some of his trust in the process. This may have a carry over effect into the regular season.
Best tactical watch for the 2011 season - Developing a strategy to take advantage of the new kickoff rules. Can somebody come up with anything better than just booting the kick into the end zone every time? Maybe a higher kick landing inside the 5, with hopes of stopping them short of the 20? Or possibly a short squib kick that bounces around enough to give the kicking team a chance to recover? You'd be wrong if you think NFL coaches aren't already brainstorming this.
Worst side of the stadium to sit on - East side. The Rams dominated the first quarter, scoring both TD's opposite the side I was seated. DJ's interception and the Chiefs lone TD both occurred on that side as well. The East side folk didn't get any action until the Chiefs' late game failure to score. Speaking of which…
Worst coaching decision - Haley attempting a field goal down four points, with just over three minutes left in the game. In the preseason. We couldn't leave fast enough after that.
Best coaching decision - Haley's insertion of Tyler Palko with the starters on offense. You want to get an idea of how your backup QB looks with the starters in on both offense and defense. And it's best to do so at a random time, because that is exactly how it would happen if Matt Cassel were to go down to injury. And Palko did alright with it, aside from the fact that he makes nearly every throw off of his back foot.
Worst play - Cassel 2 yard completion to Dexter McCluster on 3rd and 9 with 12:30 left in the 2nd quarter. Why you ask? On this particular 3rd and 9 play, the Chiefs put five eligible receivers out into routes. Leonard Pope was the only receiver to run his route past the first down sticks. In fact, the other four WR's were all more than five yards short of that magic yellow line. It was baffling. Why was this play called?
Worst performance by a player on the fringe of the roster - Verran Tucker. Saw two more drops from last season's starting WR. He bounced back from a rough first game to play pretty well last week, but if he can't catch the ball, there is no point in having him on the team.
Best performance by a player on the fringe of the roster - Travis Daniels. While he was the frontrunner for the fifth cornerback position already, he all but locked it up with two nice pass deflections and an interception. Runner up goes to Cody Slate, who looks like he could be a mismatch at the tight end position.
Thanks for all the kind words from last week, be sure to keep the comments flowing again this week.