Week 2 of the preseason is in the books, and it’s hard not to be optimistic about the Chiefs performance as a whole. Competition from the rookie class appears to be pushing several veterans to be their best. Not to mention the rookies are showing they have a chance to contribute more than we may have expected.
RBs CJ Spiller AND Kareem Hunt: The running game showed up this week, right on schedule. Hunt had some huge runs and catches, showing his ability in all facets of the offense. Spiller displayed the speed he’s known for making plays up the middle, on the edge, and catching the football. Both guys could help rejuvenate the Chiefs running game this year as complements to Spencer Ware.
RB Charcandrick West: Perhaps the guy that needed it the most had a breakout-type performance, albeit versus lesser competition late in this game. Regardless, when you take seven hand-offs and end up with 113 yards, you’re absolutely making the most of your opportunity. If the Chiefs keep West, it won’t really be because of this game. He’s well-liked in the locker room, and Andy Reid called him “one of my favorite guys”. That said, it was great to see ‘Moosey’ running free against the Bengals.
QBs Alex Smith AND Pat Mahomes: The quarterback play this week was outstanding. Each guy missed a throw or two, but to focus on that would be nitpicking. Smith had one of his best passes in recent memory with the ‘drop in the bucket’ to Kelce for a big gain. Mahomes looked shaky for his first two plays before settling in and performing like a franchise QB. There is NO QB controversy, but the Chiefs are in very good hands with these two.
WR De’Anthony Thomas: Three catches this week, including a touchdown. He showed his ability to run after the catch, and work in traffic. One particular play stood out to me, as he was able to bounce off of a big hit by former Chief draft pick KeiVarae Russell, and gain an additional four yards or so. The “toughest guy on the roster” also showed up on special teams, making the tackle on a potentially long kickoff return.
LB Ukeme Eligwe: Three more tackles and a sack this week ... the rookie is making the most of his opportunities this preseason. He may be further ahead in the defense than we thought. I assumed he’d be a special teams guy for his first season, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon: I noticed him line up inside and out, as he was in on the majority of the defensive snaps. It’s clear that the Chiefs are not only giving him a look at multiple positions, but also giving him extra snaps for development. He may be a big (literal and figurative) part of the future of this defense, and will be exciting to watch him wherever he’s lined up.
DE Allen Bailey: He’s back and still looks like an absolute monster. He had a QB sack where he came flying in off of a DL stunt, and another hustling tackle downfield to force a Bengals punt.
WR Jehu Chesson: He showed up with a special teams tackle and a couple of catches this week. He looks like he has very good hands and can block a bit, based on what we’ve seen so far. He’ll at least be on the roster this season and working with Dave Toub. We’ll see if he can continue to improve and get playing time with the offense as well.
Others who are trending upward: Chris Conley, Eric Murray, Demetrius Harris, Travis Kelce
OTs Donald Hawkins and Jah Reid: Bless their hearts, they tried. But that was another rough game. Reid makes the list for the second straight week, as the backup OTs really struggled to slow down the pass rush. Bengals pass rusher Chris Smith, in particular was in the backfield all night, even when Hawkins was flagged for holding. Smith beat Hawkins with speed and bull rushes, at one point on at least four consecutive drop-backs. I’ll say it again, backup offensive tackle is the ONE big remaining need on the Chiefs.
WR Albert Wilson: Bert had two catches for 14 yards, and missed a couple of blocks this week. It’s difficult to articulate what he brings to the table above the other candidates for the WR depth chart. Hill is explosive and looks fantastic. Conley looks stronger and continues to improve, Robinson and Chesson have upside and special teams ability. Seantavius Jones refuses to stop making plays this preseason. Albert Wilson can make people miss when the ball is in his hands, and he knows the offense I guess. I’m assuming the Chiefs keep Wilson, but I can’t exactly explain why...
CB Phillip Gaines: I think it’s safe to say Gaines isn’t in the top three cornerbacks, and that the Chiefs are happy with Peters (obviously), Nelson and Mitchell (when healthy). So, Gaines needs to show up on special teams and on defense this preseason to secure his place on the depth chart. Unfortunately, Phillip Gaines got picked on this week by Andy Dalton. To be fair, he was always around the receiver, just not able to make a play on the ball. Whether he’s still dealing with after effects of an injury, or he’s struggling for some other reason, Gaines may be in serious jeopardy when roster cuts happen next week.
TE Gavin Escobar: Had a great catch on the play of the game from Mahomes , but as per his reputation, struggled blocking in the run game. I also noticed him getting beat quickly in pass protection on a play where Mahomes was driven into the turf. (yes, he still completed the pass, because it was Mahomes). I believe Escobar has the ability to be TE2, but for now, he needs to show more to ensure he even makes the roster.
Others who are struggling: Justin March-Lillard, Devine Redding, Sam Ficken
LBs Dee Ford and Justin Houston: Both look healthy and disruptive, so it’s fair to expect BIG things from the Chiefs pass rush this season. Ford appears to be adjusting to life on the right side of the defensive formation, which is very good news. These two are on the ‘flat’ list for a couple of minor reasons: Ford had a pair of offside penalties, and neither guy was able to finish a significant play this week. Ford had a near sack, Houston had some pressure and a near miss on a run play or two. The Chiefs have two legit double-digit-sack guys on the edges again. The production will be there.
NT Bennie Logan: The big guy’s long-awaited debut went well overall, he showed his ability versus the run. Logan did miss the tackle on Mixon early in the game, but made up for it with a couple of stops and some penetration. He appears to be what we hoped he’d be, a disruptive force in the middle, and potentially an upgrade over Dontari Poe.
The Starting Offensive Line: The results were very positive (228 yards rushing, 6.9 avg), but in re-watching the game, I’m not totally content with the first team offensive line’s run blocking. Hunt and Ware ran into walls of Bengals defenders on a few plays, and Schwartz had a holding penalty on an outside run. The Cincinnati linebackers were active and making plays in the backfield this week. It’s not a huge concern, because they were able to use the short passing game as an extension of the running game, and pass protection was solid. But, it’s something to watch going forward.
Others who are who we thought they were: Tyreek Hill, Marcus Peters, Spencer Ware, Demarcus Robinson