Chiefs vs. Rams: 8 Things We Learned from Kansas City's 31-17 Loss
The Kansas City Chiefs got off to a hot start in the preseason after defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 27-17. The Chiefs held nothing back and fired away with two early touchdowns to come away with the victory.
This week was the complete opposite. The St. Louis Rams did what the Chiefs did in their first preseason game while the Chiefs looked like their Week 1 preseason opponent.
In this slideshow, we will go over eight things that we learned from the Chiefs in their 31-17 loss to the Rams.
Matt Cassel Continues to Look Good This Preseason Coming from Injury
Last week, Matt Cassel was 6-of-7 passing with a touchdown pass to Peyton Hillis. Saturday night against the Rams, Cassel earned more playing time and went 13-of-18 for 142 yards with a quarterback rating of 95.1.
Players try to get their feet wet during the preseason when returning from a season-ending injury. Cassel has performed well in the preseason so far, not turning the ball over and trying to get his team to focus.
Cassel got his team to focus while down 14-0 and helped the Chiefs offense move the ball to cap it off with a rushing touchdown. Time will tell if Cassel's preseason showing will translate into success in the regular season.
The Backup Quarterback Spot Is Wide Open
Ricky Stanzi earned the right to be the first quarterback to come off the bench and work with the second-team offense. Stanzi did not step on to the field during his rookie year in the regular season and wants to change that this year. But, his appearance against the Rams was not pretty.
Stanzi struggled with the second-team offense and committed two turnovers. His first turnover was an interception in which he and Terrance Copper, the intended target, were not on the same page. The pass was tipped, resulting in the turnover early in the second half.
Stanzi also fumbled later on. While trying to make a play on his first read, Stanzi was unable to get more time to make a pass while defenders chased him around. While being taken down by the defense, Stanzi loses control of the ball on his way down, and the Rams come up with another takeaway.
Brady Quinn entered the game in the fourth quarter and came away with a touchdown pass, firing a dart to Jeremy Horne for a catch-and-run of 48 yards. But, the play came while the Rams defense was playing with little aggression late in the game when the score was 31-10 before the touchdown play.
Quinn may have the lead, but it is not a demanding lead over Stanzi as the top backup quarterback.
Peyton Hillis Is Set for a Bounce-Back Season
Despite joining the Chiefs this offseason, Peyton Hillis has helped his new team immensely in the preseason.
Hillis is looking to overcome a setback from last year after missing six games last season with the Cleveland Browns. Hillis scored his second touchdown in as many weeks, giving fans a reason to believe that he can rebound in 2012.
Hillis helped the Chiefs respond while trailing 14-0. Taking advantage of a strong drive. Hillis helped the Chiefs by finishing the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run from a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Last week, he caught a touchdown pass on the opening drive from Cassel to help the Chiefs get off to a hot start.
Jon Baldwin Still Has Room to Grow
Jon Baldwin was quiet in Week 1 against the Cardinals with his only activity coming when his defender was called for pass interference. This week, Baldwin was the cause of a rocky start for the Chiefs.
Down by seven early on, Cassel finds Baldwin on a short pass, but Baldwin fumbles the football soon after making the catch. With Dwayne Bowe recently signing his tender, Baldwin needs to step up as the team's top receiver. Cassel will need to work on helping Baldwin be more active next week against the Seattle Seahawks.
Dwayne Bowe Will Begin Practicing in Pads Tuesday
Bowe recently signed his tender, and the Chiefs need him to work with Cassel and the rest of the receivers to help create a three-dimensional offense.
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli spoke to the Chiefs broadcast team and said that Bowe will practice in pads Tuesday (via Danny Parkins on Twitter). Bowe must find a way to pick up Brian Daboll's offense quickly in the next couple of weeks before the regular-season game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bowe, Baldwin and the rest of the pass-catchers on the team have the potential to help Cassel with the offense and surprise teams in 2012. But with Bowe's inconsistency, it is hard to outline his performance this year.
Chiefs Offense Must Learn to Take Care of the Football
If any weakness was exposed from Kansas City, it was their ability to secure the football. The Chiefs committed four turnovers Saturday night against the Rams.
The Chiefs fumbled the football four times, losing it three times. As stated earlier, Stanzi threw an interception soon after coming off the bench.
The game of football is designed where if a team wins the turnover battle by four, it gives them a great chance to win, but also win big. The Rams did just that in Week 2 of the preseason, giving the Chiefs something important to work on this month before the real games kick off in September.
Chiefs Defense Must Be More Sharp
Sam Bradford had no problems doing what he wanted to do early in the game.
To open up the game, Bradford and the Rams went 80 yards on five plays in less than two minutes. On the next Rams possession off the first takeaway for the Rams, Bradford and the Rams came away with a touchdown in just five plays.
Bradford completed six passes, two of them in the end zone. The Chiefs trailed by 14 points with less than five minutes into the game. With an early, hot start for the Rams and their four takeaways, it is no surprise that they won Saturday's game by two touchdowns.
Romeo Crennel Wants to Win, Even If It's the Preseason
One surprising note about tonight's game was seeing Cassel and a few offensive starters stay on the field all the way until halftime.
Last week, Crennel pulled his starters after a 14-0 lead. This week, he wanted his starters to tie the game or cut the deficit down and let the starters stay on the field.
The Chiefs went 1-11 in the preseason with Todd Haley as the head coach. Crennel wants to see success from his team in the preseason. While preseason records translate into different kinds of regular-season results, Crennel wants to see his team play well in exhibition games, in hopes that it will carry over to the regular season.
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