Image edited by Brett Gering
Game over. Close the curtains and scalp the season tickets. "Ain't nobody got time for that."
Preseason games tend to bring out the worst in fickle fans and society as a whole. (If you need proof, search Twitter for "Chiefs" alongside the first negative term that pops in your head.)
When the local team loses—even in preseason—trolls hobble out from under their bridges with wind catching the foam at their mouths. They then log in to Facebook and/or Twitter. If it's a male, he probably has a shirtless avatar showing off Urkel-like results after a weekend of P90X; if it's a female, the avatar likely flaunts a violent duck face beside a splotchy quote or nickname that contradicts the image.
The grammatically challenged psychics will then concoct a post from a formula that involves "team X" and "still (insult)" before ending with a frighteningly rebellious one-liner like "Sorry...not sorry."
It's the preseason, people.
If your team wins, don't dip into your four-year-old's college fund for Super Bowl tickets. If your team loses, don't see your doctor about Abilify.
The preseason is about the players—not the records. Projecting a team's regular-season outlook after one preseason game is like GPS-ing a Vegas chapel after making short talk with someone named Cinnabunz.
The good news is that the Chiefs starters looked like they were in a league of their own. The offense methodically tacked on seven points, the defense forced Drew Brees and Co. to punt, and the special teams responded with a 55-yard return from Dexter McCluster.
Then, the starters gave way to the reserves, and the reserves gave way to mediocrity.
Ten spotlights emanated from Andy Reid's Kansas City debut.
Here are the players to keep an eye out for as the San Francisco 49ers file into the mecca of decibels, Arrowhead Stadium.
QB Alex Smith, No. 11
Anytime a pupil squares off against his former mentor, cameras follow like lost puppies.
The same will hold true when ex-49ers quarterback Alex Smith clashes with John Harbaugh.
Under the two-year tutelage of San Francisco's hot-headed coach, Smith completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 30 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. He resuscitated his career and spearheaded a quest to the NFC Championship Game—which was decided in overtime—in Harbaugh's first season.
Before his much-publicized 2012 injury, Smith had connected on 26 of his last 28 passes and slung four touchdowns with an empty interception column.
After No. 11 recovered from a concussion, Harbaugh extended Colin Kaepernick's starting streak and the rest is history.
Smith's inaugural drive as a member of the Chiefs was encouraging. Kansas City's starter systematically marched the offense down to New Orleans' goal line via a 7-of-8 passing performance—the sole incompletion being a throwaway—which ultimately led to Jamaal Charles breaking the plane for an early seven-point advantage.
For Chiefs fans, the surgical sequence was equally relieving and refreshing—vanilla play-calling need not apply.
Kansas Citians hadn't witnessed a Chiefs quarterback display that brand of pre- and post-snap command since the era of Trent Green and Dick Vermeil. Smith orchestrated an offense which was so uptempo that, at one point, Kansas City players were in formation before the ball was spotted.
When compared to Matt Cassel, whose receivers often signed death wishes trying to fetch misfired ducks, the newcomer's accuracy looked robotic. Smith guided throws that connected with receivers in stride, as seen with Anthony Fasano's first mention of the preseason:
He then threw into a much tighter window for Fasano's second chain-mover.
However, when Smith jogs onto the field against his former team, Jamaal Charles might not be alongside him.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (foot) may miss next preseason game; he would play if the game counted http://t.co/Fjdf6TB1hD— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 14, 2013
LT Eric Fisher, No. 72
The first line of CBS Sports' draft (2008) analysis of Branden Albert reads, "Has a solid upper body with long arms, large hands..."
Albert's arm length was measured at 33.6 inches, and he totes 9.25-inch hands.
Eric Fisher has the wingspan of a 747.
His arms are 34.5 inches long, and his set of paws logged in at 10.5 inches.
The difference reveals itself on film. Trying to gain the edge on Fisher is a losing battle—ask Cameron Jordan, the Saints' most prolific pass-rusher.
Here, Jordan rounded the corner with a swim move before following it up with a rip attempt. His initial effort turned Fisher's head parallel to the line of scrimmage and briefly created separation. However, the rookie maintained his balance, and his distinct (foot) quickness and arm length recovered in a blink.
By the time Alex Smith unloaded, Jordan was nearly four yards in the rear view.
In the next clip, New Orleans' edge-rusher tried his luck at bull-rushing the right tackle, which is the only technique that seems to trouble Fisher with any semblance of regularity.
The 287-pound Jordan eventually generated enough power to create a hint of separation, but it came at the expense of his forward momentum. Fisher immediately rebounded and smothered Jordan's hopes of a second wind.
When 37 additional pounds were packed onto his target, the streak of flawless victories came to a halt, and the No. 1 pick looked markedly more pedestrian.
But again, Fisher's reach ultimately secured constant contact between him and Akiem Hicks. The moment Hicks' 324-pound frame stepped laterally, No. 72 re-anchored and drove the mountainous rusher into the turf.
Fisher's debut was fairly impressive, especially given the fact that he suffered two minor injuries throughout the evening.
CB Vince Agnew, No. 34
When it comes to Jalil Brown, you can count on one thing: You can't count on him.
Mr. Brown, meet your match: Vince Agnew.
Honestly, it's hard to gauge Agnew's potential. Saints quarterbacks repeatedly tortured him like some form of on-field rookie hazing ritual. However, before the Big Easy beatdown, hoards of training camp tweets claimed he passed the eye test with flying colors.
Vince Agnew is really showing some things today, blanket coverage on Dex— Reid Ferrin (@KCChiefs_Reid) July 28, 2013
Under the radar guys I'm most impressed with thru first week: Vince Agnew, Miguel Chavis, Tyler Shoemaker and Ridge Wilson. #ChiefsCamp— Jason Madson (@Jason_Madson) August 3, 2013
5 who impressed today 1. Donald Stephenson 2. Junior Hemingway 3. Terrance Copper 4. Vince Agnew 5. Travis Kelce— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) July 28, 2013
Obviously, the above sentiments were shared by Andy Reid.
Agnew remained on the field for 50 snaps in the Chiefs' preseason premiere. Excluding the secondaries of Dallas and Miami—which have both played an additional exhibition—only four cornerbacks have topped that snap total thus far.
According to Pro Football Focus, 233 corners have participated in the preseason, and Agnew's cumulative rating ranks at a distant—you guessed it—233rd. New Orleans completed 11 of the 14 passes that spiraled into the rookie's vicinity, and those 11 completions gradually amounted to 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Every athlete is entitled to the occasional off game. But when it falls on an undrafted rookie's bright-light baptism, there's no background check to deflect the criticism.
It's possible (but not plausible) that Agnew could redeem his reputation and conduct a cornerback clinic versus the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.
But unfortunately for No. 34, first impressions are often the relatives of lasting ones.
RB Knile Davis, No. 34
Knile Davis has only taken part in 18 professional snaps, but he already feels like Kansas City's secret Santa. No. 34 is just as likely to drop your jaw as he is to drop the ball—literally.
Every time his number is called, my muscles tense with an unnerving hunch, and I instantly become a glass-half-empty pessimist fearing the worst.
My faith in Davis holding on to a football rivals that of Ryan Braun standing behind me during a trust fall.
Exhibit A: In his final season at Arkansas, Davis coughed up the pigskin seven times on 112 carries. If that number of handoffs is adjusted to match Jamaal Charles' 2012 total (285), it reveals that Davis would have been on pace to forfeit 18 fumbles.
John Dorsey didn't spend a third-round pick on that prospect, though. He crossed his fingers and drafted the 2010 home run hitter—pre-ankle injuries—who averaged 6.5 yards per carry and authored 14 touchdowns.
Davis' bipolar scouting report manifested itself on the Superdome's turf.
The combine standout only delivered seven yards on five rushes and dropped a seemingly surefire reception.
His four catches that yielded 18 yards weren't sparking any 2010 flashbacks, either.
Then, Davis fielded his one and only kickoff.
Seventy-nine yards later, every skeptic backtracked to square one.
NT Dontari Poe, No. 92
Dontari Poe didn't record a single tackle in last year's overtime thriller versus the Saints.
What a difference a year makes.
The Chiefs' 335-pounder only graced the field for four downs during this season's reunion, but they looked like the longest four downs in center Brian de la Puente's career.
New Orleans' offense opened its first drive with a handoff to Mark Ingram. Poe swatted away de la Puente like a 300-pound gnat and made a beeline down the line of scrimmage before plowing into the former Heisman winner.
Poe's initial disruption forced Brees to hit the panic button, which allowed Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to circle like sharks and seal the deal.
5 Lesser-Known Standouts vs. New Orleans
|No.||Player||Position||Stats vs. Saints|
|42||Anthony Sherman||FB||1 REC, 8 YDS|
|83||Rico Richardson||WR||2 REC, 22 YDS, 1 PR, 16 YDS|
|52||Orie Lemon||ILB||7 TKLS|
|45||Greg Castillo||CB||2 TKLS, 1 PD|
|48||Bradley McDougald||SS||5 TKLS|
FB Anthony Sherman, No. 42
Sherman was underutilized by the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs fullback is a thwacking lead blocker who doubled as a receiving threat during his tenure at Connecticut.
While the on-air replays spotlighted Eric Fisher during Jamaal Charles' touchdown, the key block actually stemmed from Sherman.
WR Rico Richardson, No. 83
The undrafted wideout has become somewhat of a local Twitter celebrity. Richardson routinely served as the subject of tweets due to his eye-opening performances at training camp.
He's primarily known as a field-stretching deep threat, but his hands have been the story since coming to Kansas City. Richardson's most highlight-worthy catch didn't make the stat sheet—he was ruled out of bounds—but his effort showed a layer of polish that's fairly unusual for rookies.
LB Orie Lemon, No. 52
Much has been made about the strong-side linebacker battle between Akeem Jordan and Nico Johnson. However, if the New Orleans game is indicative of what to expect, Orie Lemon is nipping at Johnson's heels.
The second-year thumper was constantly lurking around the ball and swooping in for tackles.
CB Greg Castillo, No. 45
If Andy Reid dials down Vince Agnew's playing time, it should correlate with Greg Castillo's increasing.
Castillo was targeted on three occasions but only allowed one reception for four yards. That, combined with one pass defense, pegged him as one of two cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus' list of undrafted standouts.
SS Bradley McDougald, No. 48
McDougald, a local favorite at the University of Kansas, joined Castillo on the aforementioned team of Week 1 stars.
As Pro Football Focus' Khaled Elsayed detailed:
Bradley McDougald flashed an intriguing skillset, including going toe to toe with Jimmy Graham and breaking up a pass when the big tight end looked to have shielded him away from the ball. Having the ability to do that will get him noticed.
Indeed, it did.
*Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
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