Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings: Report Card for Each Chiefs Unit
The third preseason game is the most significant game for all NFL teams. For the Kansas City Chiefs, the third preseason game was a discouraging one. The first-team offense showed no reason why fans should feel optimistic going into the regular season.
Kansas City's first-team offense outplayed Minnesota's starters in first downs and total yards, but had only a field goal to show for it, in addition to a safety the defense earned.
Overall, it was a rough outing for the Chiefs. We learned tonight that the Chiefs are far from ready for the regular season, and the grades in this slideshow is a reflection of that.
Alex Smith did not get much help from the offensive line, which we will dive into later in the slideshow. But even when Smith had opportunities, he couldn't lead the Chiefs to the end zone.
Smith, who had only one multi-interception game last year, threw two interceptions in the first 16 minutes of this exhibition game.
He has yet to lead the Chiefs first-team offense to a touchdown this preseason.
The bad quarterback play carried over when Tyler Bray took control under center as his first drive ended with an interception.
It was a rare performance from Smith, but he hasn't had a good preseason either.
For the second consecutive week, the Kansas City Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles. This meant more repetitions for Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray. However, it was a rough night for them too.
Davis, who is projected to be Charles' top backup, had a 2.3 yard per carry average on 12 carries. Gray also had a couple of touches, but was limited in his participation tonight.
It is no secret that the Chiefs could have used Charles at running back. In fact, it appears Charles might need to carry the offense like he did for most of last season.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
With Dwayne Bowe sidelined due to injury, tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce contributed in the passing game. As the only bright spots, Fasano and Kelce were responsible for 39 percent of Kansas City's receptions.
Kelce, who has had the hot hand this preseason, led the Chiefs with 49 yards receiving, pulling in four passes. Fasano was the first-team offense's biggest highlight, as he posted a game-high five catches for 41 yards.
Considering that Bowe is suspended for the first game, the Chiefs will need Fasano and Kelce to play like this in Week 1 when the team hosts the Tennessee Titans in the season opener.
Outside of the tight ends, the rest of the pass-catchers were very quiet, giving Smith little help.
The offensive line was the biggest concern going into training camp. Since the start of camp, the group has taken steps backwards and has allowed a grand total of 14 sacks.
For a majority of the time, Alex Smith finds himself either scrambling to evade defenders or getting sacked.
Will the offensive line improve before the regular season kicks off in a couple of weeks or was tonight a true representation of what Smith will deal with for 16 games?
Smith was taken down three times and Tyler Bray was sacked twice. It is an understatement to say the offensive line must get better. The line will find itself trying to improve and make progress in the early stages as the season goes on, which is not good.
If this keeps up, fans have reason to question whether Smith will make it through the season healthy.
Kansas City scored very few points, so anytime it was able to score, it was appreciated. Kansas City's first score came when defensive end Jaye Howard invaded the pocket while Minnesota QB Matt Cassel was standing in his own end zone.
Howard immediately punched the football out of Cassel's hands, and it rolled out of bounds for a safety.
The defensive line, overall, didn't have many impressive moments. But the score was needed, as it was only one of three different times when the Chiefs put up points.
Kansas City's front seven was the only highlight in Saturday's blowout loss, and it is something the team will heavily rely on in order to stay competitive in games.
Behind Jamaal Charles, most would agree that the next best players on the team are all linebackers—Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston.
Hali and Johnson each had four tackles and a sack in Saturday's loss. Thanks to the pass rush, the Chiefs had only allowed 10 points going into halftime.
Hali made a strong impact in coverage as he was quick close on receivers, limiting their yards after the catch.
One player who also shined a little bit was Nico Johnson, who is vying for a starting spot. With Joe Mays set to undergo wrist surgery, Johnson has an opportunity to not only make the team, but also earn a starting role.
Ron Parker came up with a nice interception, taking advantage of a pass being thrown into double coverage. But outside of the takeaway, the defensive backs struggled once again without Eric Berry.
Daniel Sorensen was once again victimized, this time allowing Cordarrelle Patterson to sneak behind the defense on a 53-yard touchdown catch from Matt Cassel.
Without Berry and cornerback Brandon Flowers, who was released over the summer, the Chiefs know they are thin at defensive backs and it has showed all throughout the preseason. With the Chiefs set to take on Tom Brady, Peyton Manning (twice), Philip Rivers (also twice) and several other high-caliber quarterbacks, the defensive backs will need to shape up and be ready to better defend receivers.
Punter Dustin Colquitt had another impressive game against the Vikings when he booted an attempt 63 yards, with the kick being downs inside Minnesota's 5-yard line. Colquitt came through nicely on all seven of his punt attempts. Rookie kicker Cairo Santos had an uneventful night, kicking a 21-yard field goal and an extra-point attempt.
The return game had another quiet week, despite the hype surrounding De'Anthony Thomas.
But special teams coordinator Dave Toub was not thrilled when Adam Thielen took a 75-yard punt return to Kansas City's 5-yard line, which the Vikings offense capitalized on with a TD on the next play.
It was a rare moment to see Kansas City struggle a little bit on special teams, but Toub will make sure his players don't allow that to happen again.
Through three preseason games, Kansas City's first-team offense has failed to score a touchdown. Against a Vikings defense that has very few playmakers, the Chiefs offense scored only a field goal.
Yes, the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but that is no excuse to come up with only three points. With or without those two, scoring has been a problem for the first-string offense all preseason.
How much progress has the offense honestly made since the start of training camp? Judging on what we've seen so far, it would be hard to make a case that the Chiefs offense has made progress since late July.
That falls on the coaching staff. Head coach Andy Reid has gone through a lot of ups and downs in his 15 years as a head coach. And his track record suggests that the offense should come around at some point.
But if Reid can't get the passing game turned around, and if it forces Charles to carry the offense once again, the head coach's second season in Kansas City will be a complete opposite of the first season he had with the franchise.
Cumulative grade: D