Kansas City Chiefs Preseason: Five Things To Look For in Game One
The Kansas City Chiefs kick off their preseason schedule tomorrow night in Atlanta, George with a game against the Falcons. There will be everything from loud intro music to butterflies in many players and coaches stomachs as the two teams being their 2010 season.
Chiefs personnel, including coaches, fans and everyone involved with the team will be looking to evaluate the team and their performance starting with game one of the preseason tomorrow night. For this feature, I took a look at my top five things to look for with the Chiefs in Friday nights opener in the Georgia Dome.
5. The Offensive Line's play
Even though this area of the Chiefs team is listed as #5 on what to watch for, it is a very important thing to continue to monitor as the preseason moves along. The KC offensive line was horrendous last year, allowing QB Matt Cassel hardly any time to throw the ball, and were flagged many times due to frustrating mental errors that would produce gray hairs for any head coach in this league.
The Chiefs added free agent G Ryan Lilja and C Casey Wiegmann and drafted G Jon Asamoah during the off-season in hopes of strengthening the line. The line's progress rests on the shoulders of veteran G Brian Waters and the young LT Branden Albert, as they are the glue that holds this Kansas City offensive line together.
Multiple reports out of training camp have the line struggling mightily, but the boys will be put to the test tomorrow night against a Falcon defense that finished 14th in the league in total defense in 2009.
4. How the Chiefs Rookies Will Adjust to the NFL Game
In the recent 2010 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted seven players and after the draft, signed many undrafted rookie free agents who just like the drafted players, are eager to get their feet wet in the NFL.
Of these rookies, first round pick Eric Berry stands out the most, as he will be the only rookie starter in tomorrow night's preseason game against Atlanta. In order for this 2010 Chiefs team to have success, they will have to get production from this current rookie class, including the likes of Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas and Tony Moeaki, along with McCluster's college roommate Kendrick Lewis.
Tomorrow's game will be the first real test for all of these rookies to see what a game at NFL speed will look like. When Saturday morning arrives, they will either come out smelling like roses or left burning in the dust.
3. Dwayne Bowe's Recent Improvement
Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe has yet to live up to lofty expectations going into this fourth year in the Red and Gold.
His first two seasons, he played very well, as he averaged 1,000 yards receiving for each year. Last season, Bowe took a step back as he was suspended by the league for four games for violating the NFL's drug policy. This past off-season, D-Bowe attended a camp that had Cardinal receiver Larry Fitzgerald in it, and by many reports, has been coming on strong ever since that camp.
If he is really going to make that next step to be an elite receiver in this league, we will find out more about how close he really is when the games begin tomorrow night.
2. Matt Cassel's development
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel his heading into his second year with the team, and this means that the amount of pressure on Cassel has increased significantly since his initial or first year with the club in '09.
Cassel looked like a lost man out there last year, as he could never get any consistency from himself or his offense around him. During the off-season, the Chiefs picked up some more weapons for Cassel in RB Thomas Jones, WR/RB Dexter McCluster and TE Tony Moeaki.
The biggest move they made to help Matt Cassel was bringing in former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who is widely responsible for the strong development of Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl champion QB Tom Brady. If Weis is the real deal, then we should start seeing results from Cassel as early as this season, or his day might start to be become numbered in Kansas City.
1. How the defense holds up against the run
The Chiefs rush defense was easily its weakest link last season, as it finished 31st, or second to last in the league against the run.
They will be going against an average Atlanta Falcon rushing attack that finished 15th in the league last year, and have a solid running back in Michael Turner. However, Kansas City was no stranger to getting run over by even average backs, as RB by the name of Jerome Harrison, who was virtually unheard of until last year, rushed to the tune of 286 yards against the KC defense last season as he made them look silly.
The key to the Chiefs rush defense improving will hinge on the development of their young defensive line guns of Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Alex Magee, and Wallace Gilberry among others.If all of these players can even improve some this year, the Chiefs might be able to at least possess a formidable run defense this year.