Kansas City started the unofficial season in a rough way on Friday night, losing to Atlanta by 10 points.
The Chiefs did not score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter off a quarterback sneak by third stringer Tyler Palko on the one-yard line.
Although the team was tough to watch at times, we all learned plenty of things about this 2010 team.
1. Halfback Jamaal Charles needs to be the starter on week 1.
Charles only received 4 carries on the night after replacing veteran Thomas Jones in the 1st quarter, and was able to rack up 37 yards, giving him over 9 yards per carry.
Jones on the other hand would be better suited as a change of pace runner, behind Charles when the season opens up.
Charles offers a burst of speed, toughness, and terrific vision that matches up with Kansas City's offensive line very well.
2. The run defense was hapless and needs to improve.
Starters Glenn Dorsey, Ron Edwards, and Tyson Jackson were all pushed off the line of scrimmage early in the game as they watched Atlanta Halfback Michael Turner flash by them to the second level on many occasions.
The production of these three players is very important to the success of Kansas City in stopping the run, and they couldn't get it done at all, regardless of the play called.
3. Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher should be the starters over Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays.
Williams and Mays were each run over and blocked out of plays on a consistent basis early in the first quarter, allowing Atlanta to man handle the Chiefs defense in the running game.
The moment coach Todd Haley plugged in DJ and Belcher, they began makings plays, shutting down halfback Jason Snelling for a no gain off the left tackle for no gain. Belcher led the team in tackles, and was solid in most areas.
Johnson and Belcher offer speed and versatility to the inside linebacker position in the 3-4 that Mays and Williams can't make.
Mays is only serviceable as a run stopper, and even at that he led the league in 2009 in missed tackles.
Williams is under-sized and doesn't have the mental make-up to be a successful inside linebacker in a 3-4.
4. Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, and Javier Arenas are the real deal.
Chiefs rookies shined in this game, and at times looked more advanced than the veterans.
Rookie Safety Eric Berry played Free, Strong, and even Nickelback in the 1st and 2nd quarter of the game, and was solid against both the pass and the run.
Even if Berry didn't get in on the tackle he was always seen around the ball at the end of the play, and he made a nice open-field tackle on Michael Turner coming flying from the Free safety position to make the play.
Dexter McCluster also showed his versatility, getting touches as a slot receiver, and as a halfback with the first team. He racked up 25 yards on 5 carries, and 23 more on 3 catches.
McCluster is as lightning fast as he has been hyped up to be, and having big-play ability on this Chiefs team is going to be important to the 2010 season.
Javier Arenas was spectacular as a kick returner, and made smart decisions as a Punt returner, making the fair catch calls when they were justified.
Arenas averaged 28 yards per kick return, and broke loose for a 100 yard touchdown that was negated by a holding penalty on special-teamer Justin Cole (soon to be cut).
Arenas was picked on a bit in the passing game, but was always right on top of his receiver to make the tackle after the catch, something the Chiefs lacked in 2009 (see Maurice Leggett, Miles Austin).
5. The offensive line, in particular the right side, looked terrible.
Quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brodie Croyle were both forced to make quick passes that resulted in either short passes, far from the sticks, or incompletions from errant passes.
Right Tackle Ryan O'Callahan looked disgusting as he was beat on a regular basis by DE Kroy Biermann of Atlanta, a player not well known for his pass rush ability.
Cassel was stripped of the ball before he could get out a quick release costing the Chiefs a possibility of points as they turned the ball over in their own territory.
Right Guard Ryan Lilja, looked average at best in the running game, and wasn't impressive as a pass blocker.
With that said, Kansas City only allowed 2 sacks all game, one coming thanks to O'Callahan, the other due to a poor attempted chop block by third/fourth string Halfback Kestahn Moore as he allowed veteran LB Curtis Lofton to achieve the sack.
6. Why did Kansas City choose to stay in a base 3-4 when Atlanta would line up with four or five wideouts?
Now this on the other hand, we didn't learn, but rather question the Chiefs coaching staff. During the first quarter of play, after Atlanta knew they could run the ball on Kansas City, then chose to try out the passing game.
Rather than taking the logical approach and bringing in an extra defensive back such as Javier Arenas, or Maurice Leggett, the Chiefs stayed in a base 3-4 with 4 linebackers, none of whom are great coverage defenders.
The first-string pass defense looked solid in general, but was this done on purpose, or was a leader of the defense supposed to call an audible to adjust to the offensive formation?
It's something that only defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel could answer.
At games end, we learned that K.C. is very vanilla in the pre-season as usual. Better yet, if ice cream had something more plain than vanilla, that would be the Chiefs.
Now it's understandable that the Chiefs would come out this way, after all, they didn't necessarily gameplan for Atlanta.
They almost seemed reluctant to show anything that they might do during the regular season to counter the opposing team, on both sides of the ball. Nothing fancy, and nothing too productive.
As the seconds ticked away from the Chiefs 20-10 loss to Atlanta, this pre-season game like most, felt empty. It wasn't pretty on either side.
But thank goodness Kansas City has plenty of time to practice before the season opener on Monday night vs. San Diego, because they need it.
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