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Five things we learned in the Chiefs’ 27-20 loss to the Packers

The Chiefs complete the preseason with a road loss to the Packers — but we learned a few things

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their preseason finale to the Green Bay Packers 27-20 Thursday night at Lambeau Field. The Chiefs will open the regular season on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week from Sunday.

Here are five things we learned from Thursday’s game:

1. The defense is playing with a new energy

Even with the starters on the sidelines for the whole game, it’s clear that the Chiefs defense has a new energy and attitude. The players and coaches have talked about it ever since OTAs — and there have been hints of it in previous exhibition games — but to me, it was on full display throughout Thursday’s game. The defensive players on the field may have been from the bottom of the roster, but they attacked on every play. They were tough against the run — and stingy against the pass.

Sure... there were moments when the execution was sloppy. That’s to be expected from depth players. But this new attitude and energy isn’t there just when Frank Clark or Tyrann Mathieu are on the field. It’s been infused through the entire roster.

Will that result in an improved defense? Only the regular season will tell. But I can’t wait to see it.

2. Jeremiah Attaochu is a solid player

It’s not clear he will make the Chiefs’ final roster, but on Thursday night, Attaochu showed he belongs on somebody’s roster. A 3-4 outside linebacker for the New York Jets in 2018, Attaochu was originally a second-round pick for the San Diego Chargers in 2014. He fought injuries during his four years with the Chargers before coming to the Jets last season.

The Chiefs have been using him as a defensive end — and in the first two drives against Green Bay on Thursday, Attaochu shined. In the first drive, he got a hand on Packers quarterback Tim Boyle as he was escaping a sack on third down, tripping him up and sending the Packers offense to the sidelines. He got another sack on the Packers’ second drive, and made a great open-field tackle to shut down a screen pass on third and long to again send the Packers to their seats.

Attaochu also took snaps as the SAM linebacker during the second half. He led all Chiefs defenders with eight tackles (six solo) a pair of sacks.

3. Mark Fields didn’t do himself any favors

The Packers were handed a gift when Kyle Shurmur and Marcus Marshall fouled up a routine handoff in the second quarter. The Packers recovered the loose ball at the Chiefs 29-yard line.

But the rest was all on Fields.

First Fields was flagged for a flagrant pass interference penalty that gave the Packers goal-to-go at the six-yard line. Then he was called for a face-mask penalty on second down that gave the Packers first-and-goal at the two. On the next play, Jace Sternberger caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Boyle.

Then with just seconds remaining in the half, Fields was called for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Packers a new set of downs at the one-yard line. The Packers scored a touchdown that time, too.

Otherwise, Fields’ number was rarely called. When you must attract the attention of the coaches in your final shot to make the roster, that’s not the way you want to get it.

4. Carlos Hyde is who he is

When Hyde was signed to the team in early March, we knew who he was: a solid but unspectacular running back. Remember: this was well before the NFL Draft. We now know the Chiefs rated Darwin Thompson highly, and were prepared to make draft-day moves to acquire him. But when Hyde was signed, the Chiefs didn’t know they’d be able to get Thompson. So Hyde’s signing was essentially insurance in case the Chiefs couldn’t get another good running back through other means.

Still... there was hope that Hyde could thrive in Andy Reid’s offense. It just never happened.

There’s no doubt that Hyde made his best effort on Thursday night. He ran hard and showed heart in his last chance to make the roster. But eight carries for 29 yards — 3.6 yards a carry — is right on par for Hyde in his career. That’s not likely to be enough for him to make the Chiefs roster; it’s not the kind of production you should expect to see from a running back in the Chiefs offense.

5. It’s a new day

It wasn’t that long ago that Chiefs fans spent cutdown weekend wondering which players the Chiefs would pick up from the pool of those released from other teams — players who might be better than the ones we saw in the second half of the last preseason game.

Things have changed. Watching the game on Thursday, I didn’t get the sense that the Chiefs desperately need to find better guys for the back end of their roster. Instead, I spent my time wondering which Chiefs players on the field in the second half were going to land on other teams.

That’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it feels really nice.

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