Sometimes there is a need to panic. Other times call for a measured, quiet reflection on what has taken place. Often times in the midst of an NFL preseason, fans find themselves on the wrong side of the panic line, losing emotional control over an illusion or irregularity.
On Saturday night, the scoreboard read Minnesota Vikings 30, Kansas City Chiefs 12. Judging from the important numbers that go into the history books under win/loss, Kansas City was destroyed. In reality, the Chiefs played without their two of their best offensive players and sans their top defensive back.
Last year, Kansas City won its third preseason game, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-20 in overtime at Heinz Field. When the starters exited, the score was tied 10-10. Sounds much better than last Saturday right? The leader rushers for the Chiefs that game were Chase Daniel and Alex Smith, going for 83 yards. Why did they lead the team in rushing yards? They were running for their lives, being sacked a total of five times in the game. Sound familiar?
Oh yeah, the Chiefs also had Bowe and Charles healthy in that game. Charles gained 10 yards on seven attempts behind a brutal offensive line which featured Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah that evening. Kansas City went on to a 9-0 start and a playoff berth.
This is not to say the Chiefs are going to start 9-0; they will not. Nobody is saying the offensive line is not a major concern; it is. However, Andy Reid has made a beautiful living thanks to his ability to scheme offenses. Say what you want about Reid, he will utilize quick throws, screens and play-action passes to slow down the pass rush and keep Smith upright.
After watching and re-watching the game tape from Saturday, the offensive line is easily the biggest weakness. Any Chiefs fan knows that the receivers are thin and the secondary is a question mark, but the only true horror is the offensive front. You can not win in the NFL if you can't block, and right now Kansas City has issues everywhere but center.
Still, this team is loaded with talent on the field and the sideline. The Chiefs are not going to win the Super Bowl this year, but making the playoffs is much more attainable than most believe. Kansas City needs much better play out of the front wall to make that dream a reality, but don't forget how bad the line was at the beginning of last year either.
As time goes on, the youngest offensive line in the NFL will improve. It will not be the best, and it will require tight ends and running backs to help out frequently. Smith will have to scramble for yardage on occasion and take on some hits early. This is part of a young team developing. You have to pick and choose where you invest.
Saturday was simply a game in August that nobody will remember a month from now. It will be long forgotten because the score does not matter. It is a glorified scrimmage with fans being forced to pay their way into the seats.
Don't panic because of a poorly played contest that doesn't count. Wait until Week 1, then draw your conclusions. Andy Reid is notorious for not giving the opponent anything, which leads to a vanilla offense in the preseason. The line looks troubling, but outside of that there were plenty of true positives. The pass rush is deeper, the secondary played great after a bad opening series (even without Berry) and the offense moved the ball into the red zone, despite line issues and the absence of Bowe and Charles. If Smith doesn't make two uncharacteristically bad throws, the narrative is completely different.
Relax fellas, we have a long ride ahead.