Mrs. MNchiefsfan and I will be at Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday for home opener, celebrating the return of Chiefs football with thousands of other deranged fans.
It's going to be a great day. I plan on using Twitter to find as many Chiefs fans as possible who are willing to show me what great barbecue is supposed to taste like. I plan on screaming until my head hurts. And I plan on embarrassing my wife at least a few times with my school girl-like giddiness at being where I belong.
Of course, while I'm doing all that, I'll also watch the Chiefs play the Titans. And there are a LOT of things to watch on the field as well as off (although I'm not sure any can compare to my desire to eat barbecue. Seriously, I heart food so, so, so much).
A lot of chatter this week has revolved around Alex Smith's new contract (I'd throw my two cents in here, but let's be honest; no one is going to change their mind about this). Because of that, I hadn't taken much time to really think about the things I'll be watching out for on Sunday. And most particularly, the people.
With that in mind, here are a few Chiefs I'll be watching very closely, as how they perform Sunday could be (emphasis on "could." After all, it's one game) a major indicator for how the year is going to go for the Chiefs.
You thought I was going to say Jamaal Charles, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU???? Well, I'm not.
We know what Charles is; an All-Universe, game-altering, defense-destroying force of nature. That hasn't changed in the very limited glimpses we got of him in preseason; he still glides like Dickerson, still gets five yards faster than anyone else in the league, and still is basically the greatest thing football ever came up with.
Davis is another story. Andy Reid has said before he wants to get Davis on the field more often this season. In preseason he looked less hesitant as a runner than he did last year (maybe he's finally focusing less on ball security and can focus on actual running?), though it's still an area of concern.
Here's the thing; if Knile Knile Crocodile can prove himself to be a playmaker on offense, he'll provide more speed. And that seems to have been a theme for the Chiefs this offseason; more speed on offense. Knile is really, really, really fast. It's the other stuff that we've all been concerned about. I'll be watching him closely, both to see how many touches he gets and what he can do with them.
Imagine a world where the Chiefs could give JC a rest but not have a completely crap offense. Seems nice, no?
The Chiefs know what they have in Eric Berry, and have for awhile now. The problem is he hasn't played in what seems like years. Bob Sutton got us all worked up when he had Berry playing single high in some defensive formations during training camp, then Mr. Berry vanished off the radar due to his heel injury.
He's practicing, he's awesome, and he's a major key to the Chiefs defense. I'm a little concerned at how rusty he'll look, and I'm VERY interested in seeing if Berry will play centerfield at all. Definitely something to keep an eye on.
The secondary has looked, um, iffy during the preseason. Someone needs to step in and solidify that part of the defense before things get out of hand, especially with Denver looming in the near future. If Berry steps in and is his usual self immediately (with some "let's let him actually play deep safety" thrown in) it will provide a gigantic boost for a part of the defense that has been struggling.
Travis Kelce and De'Anthony Thomas
I'm putting Kelce and Thomas together because a lot of the same things could be said about the two of them.
1) Both are insanely fast.
2) Both could provide an explosiveness to the offense the Chiefs haven't had in years outside of Charles.
3) No one knows how many snaps each will see on offense.
4) Everyone agrees that Andy Reid needs to find a way to use them.
I think there's a chance that Kelce absolutely bursts onto the scene from day one (I mean, year two) with the offense. There's a lot less chance of that happening with Thomas, but I wouldn't rule it out either. You can't rule out a guy with his kind of speed.
If neither sees the field much Sunday, that will tell me preseason was much ado about nothing. If they get out there and make an impact, the Chiefs offense could be a lot better than expected this season. Oh, and you'll have to deal with me saying "Angry Travis" all year. So sorry about that in advance.
Not Alex Smith's contract. Alex Smith himself. You know, the quarterback.
I've made my stance well known regarding Smith; wait and see (yay fences to sit on!). He played half the season last year highly conservative and very game-manager. He played the other half of the season much more willing to take chances and throw the ball down the field.
Has Reid broken Smith of his overly conservative tendencies? Sunday is the first chance to really tell. I'm looking forward to have actual football stuff to talk about regarding Smith. One thing is for certain; regardless of how well or terrible he plays, some people are going to insist that it doesn't mean anything. Good times.
You're right, I've veered away from "players" to watch at this point. But I don't care. As I said above, I love food. Especially barbecue.
The last time I was at a Chiefs game (my only other game, where AP user JComp generously provided tickets because he's an incredible human being), I had a chance to try a Z-man at Oklahoma Joe's the evening before. The hype was real, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. However, I didn't partake of any tailgate barbeque.
I intend to change that this year. So please look forward to a column section (or perhaps an entire column) dedicated to the food I try. Of course, I'll be at the mercy of generous Chiefs fans, so we'll see how it goes. Bonus points will absolutely go to anyone who is able to impress Mrs. MNchiefsfan, an eater with much more refined taste than I possess.
There are roughly 1,938,034 other things I'll be watching out for on Sunday (I'll definitely have a nervous eye on the offensive line), but the bottom line is this; Chiefs football is coming Sunday, and I'll be right there screaming with the rest of you.
Here's hoping for a 52-0 blowout where our only field goal is a 70-yarder by Santos.