In the first half of the Chiefs’ 27-17 loss to Arizona Saturday night, there were some reoccurring signs that gave flashbacks to last season.
The starting offensive unit was in the redzone twice in the first half, but managed two field goals. Points are always a good thing and it’s obviously better than the alternative.
But too often last season, field goals were all the offense could muster. It’s important, especially with an offense that’s going to play a conservative, ball control style, that touchdowns come at a much higher rate than last season. The team was 31st in scoring and 31st in touchdowns a year ago.
The second drive last night was particularly frustrating to watch. The Chiefs had 1st-and-goal on the Cardinals six-yard line. Brodie Croyle avoided a sack and threw his first pass away, but Tony Gonzalez was penalized for offensive pass interference, which blew a perfect opportunity. A screen pass to Larry Johnson was blown up on second down and Johnson gained a couple yards on the third down draw play.
A perfect opportunity was blown.
August is definitely a better time of the year to have these issues, so that hopefully it can be resolved for later in the season, but the fact of matter is, the redzone production has to increase.
There were some positives that came from the second preseason game however:
-The offensive line continues to improve, left tackle Herb Taylor especially. This bodes well for the Chiefs because it gives them added depth. Taylor is currently filling in for 1stround pick Brandon Albert, who is continuing to nurse a sprained ankle. For the most part, Croyle had time to make plays and Johnson and Kolby Smith had several running lanes open up.
-The first team defense was efficient. The line got to Arizona’s quarterbacks and the two young cornerbacks, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, contained the Cardinals All-Pro wide receivers (Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.)
Edgerrin James and J.J. Arrington made a few decent runs but the containment at the line of scrimmage was good enough. The key though, was the line putting pressure on the quarterback.
-Even though the kicking game still seems a little muddled, the punting situation couldn’t be better for the Chiefs. Dustin Colquitt averaged nearly 58 yards per punt over four punts. His punts were in the air long enough for the coverage team to make plays.
It also appears the return game is getting resolved too. Dantrell Savage, a rookie from Oklahoma State, had three kickoff returns for an average for 33 yards. He was shifty and hit the holes hard.
As much as coach Herman Edwards says wins and losses matter with a young team, it’s really all about progress and the team continues to move forward, even though they took smaller steps Saturday night than they did a week ago against the Bears.