I don’t know about you, but after last week’s impressive performance, I’m dying for some Chiefs football.
Thankfully we don’t have to wait too much longer as the Chiefs head to St.Louis for their second preseason game tonight @ 7PM against the Rams for the annual Governor’s Cup.
It will be difficult to look as good as the starters looked last week against the Arizona Cardinals in their limited time on the field, but of course Chiefs fans hope to see more of the same. Being the second preseason game, the starters should get more playing time than the week before. I’d imagine the starters will play around three to four series depending on how they perform.
But what about Dwayne Bowe? If you haven’t heard yet, the Chiefs’ franchise player finally signed his one year tender worth $9.5 million today; one day after the Chiefs concluded training camp in St.Josephs. So the timing isn’t unusual, but Bowe signed earlier than I thought he would. This is good news for the Chiefs as it will give Bowe a good three weeks to learn Brian Daboll’s new system before the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bowe however will not play tonight against the Rams and will join the team next week for practice in Kansas City.
Here are the 10 things I’m looking for/wanting to see in preseason game #2:
1). More of the same – Specifically from the running game. Last week the running game looked like what Chiefs fans were expecting with the return of Jamaal Charles and the addition of Peyton Hillis running behind an improved and potentially elite offensive line. The Chiefs’ ground game looks like it could be the best in the NFL again this season. The combination of Charles & Thomas Jones two years ago behind a lesser offensive line led the league in rushing, so I don’t see why the Chiefs can’t exceed that this year with a better line and a better complement to Charles in Hillis replacing Jones. Hopefully we see more of Charles & Hillis, as well as Shaun Draughn, tearing it up on the ground tonight against a Rams defense that struggled stopping the run last year.
2). Run D – The Chiefs allowed a solid 4.2 yds/carry last year, good for 14th in the NFL. But they want to get even better against the run this season. With the return of Eric Berry and hopefully better play from the nose tackle position, the Chiefs should improve. Anthony Toribio had a fantastic game at nose tackle against the Cardinals’ first teamers and second year big man Jerrell Powe also looked great when he got into the game. The Chiefs will need more of that this season if they want to get even better against the run.
3). Poe – In his first game as a pro, 1st round draft pick Dontari Poe had his share of struggles. It was his first game, and he is a rookie defensive lineman, so it was expected. As he gets more experience however, it would be nice to see some flashes out of the 6’5 350lb freak of an athlete. It seems more and more likely that Toribio will be the starter at nose tackle with Poe playing in sub packages to rush the passer.
4). Getting receivers involved – The starting offense really couldn’t have looked much better than they did last week and that was without Dwayne Bowe. And the two touchdown drives didn’t include a catch from Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Tony Moeaki or Kevin Boss. While that’s a scary proposition for opposing defenses this season that the Chiefs’ didn’t even need those five guys to move the ball at will and score touchdowns, I want to see Matt Cassel get those guys involved this week. Baldwin has had an outstanding offseason and training camp so let’s see what he can do with Bowe still not out there.
5). Houston vs. Richardson – While former Chiefs right tackle Berry Richardson said he wanted to chop block Tamba Hali (jokingly), I don’t think he’ll get many opportunities to do so as he’ll be going up against second year pass rusher Justin Houston the majority of the time. Houston should be salivating at the chance to go up against arguably the worst right tackle in football last year. I honestly can’t believe Richardson is starting for an NFL team right now, but apparently former 2nd overall pick Jason Smith has been terrible and his future with the Rams is in doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Houston log multiple sacks tonight.
6). Devon Wylie as a returner – With Dexter McCluster having a great training camp and looking to get a lot of snaps as the slot receiver with Steve Breaston this year, rookie Devon Wylie might not have much of a role on offense during his first season. But he can make an impact on special teams as a returner. Wylie was a dynamic punt returner his senior year at Fresno St. and obviously has the game breaking speed and quickness to break one open at any time. I would like to see Wylie take over at punt returner, and even though Javier Arenas finished third in the NFL in punt return average last season, he never could bust the long one.
7). Stanzi with the 2’s – Second year 5th round pick Ricky Stanzi will get his shot with the second team offense this week over Brady Quinn. It would be great to see Stanzi take advantage of the opportunity and play well. The backup quarterback spot isn’t set in stone yet, but it looks like right now that Quinn has the upper hand because of his experience and familiarity with Daboll’s offense. If Stanzi can play great tonight, he could make it a much tougher decision.
8). More Steve Maneri please! – Was it just me or did converted offensive tackle Steve Maneri look like Tony Gonzalez out there last Friday? That might be stretching it a bit, but Maneri definitely impressed. In fact, I think Maneri is forcing Jake O’Connell off the team with his play. Maneri lost over 40 pounds during the offseason to make the transition to tight end and he’s done nothing but impress so far. If Moeaki or Boss were to go down at some point this season, Maneri would get some significant playing time in the Chiefs’ two tight end sets.
9). And more pressure! – If the Chiefs want to become an elite defense this season, the pass rush will have to improve a little from last year. The Chiefs got off to a great start in that aspect with seven sacks in their preseason opener. Yes, it was against the Cardinals’ beleaguered offensive line, but it was impressive nonetheless. With one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL in Tamba Hali and one of the most promising young rushers in the game in Justin Houston coming off the other side, the Chiefs should put more heat on quarterbacks this season. Second year defensive end Allen Bailey has the potential to be a force up front and Cameron Sheffield, if healthy, could add some pass rush behind Hali. The Chiefs are also hoping to get more push from the nose tackle position and we’ve already seen some of that from Toribio and Powe, and we’re hoping to see it from Dontari Poe as well.
10). NO INJURIES…AGAIN – Thankfully, the Chiefs survived the first preseason game and did not suffer any major injuries. Let’s pray for more of the same this week.