The Kansas City Chiefs trip to the Windy City is the closest thing to actual football we’ll get in the preseason.
The starters are expected to play into the second half. This is normally a dress rehearsal for Andy Reid-coached teams. He wants to treat it like a regular week from practice to game day.
Reid wants the starters to go through the routine at halftime and then get them out shortly after the second half starts. We should get our final look at the first units before the first game in Los Angeles.
Here are five things I’m looking for:
1. The Ragland and Hitchens effect
The dissatisfaction with the defense has been clear in the comments section of Arrowhead Pride and on social media. The linebacker performances last week were suboptimal, to say the least. Enter Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens, both scheduled to get their first in-game experience of the 2018 campaign.
Ragland has become a fan favorite (Nerd Squaders Craig Stout and Matt Lane have been fighting over custody all off season) and has had his training camp slowed down by an in-flight knee swelling. Hitchens has practiced more than Ragland but has yet to see action as a precautionary measure. Both have developed chemistry on and off the field and are primed to lead the defensive unit. What kind of improvement do we see due to their presence?
Despite what some think, there have been some bright spots on the defensive side of the football in the first few games of the preseason (Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Kendall Fuller to name a few). There are bits and pieces there to be intrigued by. Getting Ragland and Hitchens on the field could be the thing that makes those elements come together.
2. Mistake-free Mahomes
The Throw was spectacular, and there were plenty of other moments to be excited about from the Atlanta game. There was also a few plays Patrick Mahomes would like to have back. It’d be nice to see a clean game from Mahomes, meaning no turnovers or near turnovers.
It’s expected that Mahomes will be a high variance player his rookie year. It doesn’t have to be like that. Let’s see if he can avoid any major errors for two-plus quarters of football. It’d leave fans with a good taste in their mouth heading into the regular season and would be another sign of growth from the young quarterback.
3. Do we get a regular-season tease of the offense?
The Chiefs normally don’t expose too much in the preseason. There might be an element or two that they’ll show during the dress rehearsal. Is there something against the Bears that we’d like to see in real games? I could see them throwing a few looks they plan on utilizing in this week’s game. I’ll be watching for what I’d like to see incorporated during the season.
We saw a couple of the bubble RPOs in the preseason last year. It was a tease for what would become a big part of the offense.
Do we get something like that this week?
4. Who’s on special teams?
If we are to believe that this game in Chicago is a dress rehearsal, who is getting on the field on special teams in the first half of the game? There are some roster moves looming and we could be clued to some of the players on the bubble by who is getting a chance and when during the game.
I’ll be keeping an eye on Frank Zombo, De’Anthony Thomas, Jehu Chesson, Ben Niemann, Darrel Williams and Arrion Springs for what kind of run they get and when. It could clue us into where they’re currently at on the roster.
5. How much does the Bears’ offense look like the 2017 Chiefs?
The Chiefs and Bears on offense tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/Eb5rHaji1k— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) August 24, 2018
From what I’ve seen, Matt Nagy’s Bears preseason offense looked a lot like the Chiefs 2017 offense, so we’ll see some things that should look familiar to fans. I’m curious what elements from last year we see in the game against Nagy’s former team.
There were some wrinkles the Chiefs never got to with their offense that I’ve seen the Bears use this preseason. They probably aren’t under too serious consideration for the season or will be used sparsely. Maybe they were the things that Reid nixed? Do we see some of those? They may not be seriously considered for regular season offense, but I think it’d be fun to see the Bears unload some ideas that may have got scrapped in Kansas City in a meaningless game against them.