The pre-season kicked off for the Chiefs today, with the team making a trip up to Chicago and Soldier Field to play the lowly Bears. I emphasize PRE-season here, because this game ended up as a loss, but not due to the first two quarters of play...I.e. when most of if not all of the first and second team guys are in. I digress though, pre-season is pre-season, and it should be focused on development and seeing who will make the roster.
Let's start with the starters. The starting lineups played really well, scoring a touchdown along with moving the ball with excellent efficiency. We only saw the one drive though however, so there wasn't a ton to look at. Those guys basically have a roster spot on lock, and pre-season is about gauging the guys that DON'T have that spot cemented yet. The guys that ARE on the bubble played to a varying degree, Justin Watson caught a touchdown and really made himself known in the wide receiver race. I didn't see much from Cornell Powell or Josh Gordon, so their spots on the roster may very well be in jeopardy. The backup running backs as well had some ups and downs, as Isiah Pacheco showed a fraction of what he could be able to do while Ronald Jones looked pretty not great and Derrick Gore left with injury. It will more than likely be a battle for that 4th and final spot at RB, as I think after this game this could very well solidify CEH, McKinnon, and Pacheco as the top 3.
Defensively, there was a noticeable change of pace with the tackling efficiency and the overall speed of this defense. Guys were flying, and Joshua Williams along with Trent McDuffie were in for basically the whole game. They both had a miss or two, but overall played really well. Bryan Cook and Leo Chenal both lived up to their hard hitting identities, and Karlaftis looked like a stud too bringing high energy and high pressure to the QB. One thing I'd like to see from him though is better footwork still, the bull rush works to get the initial pressure but you have to know when to get off and pursue ball-carrier. Too many times I saw him dig into the opposing tackle. If he can figure out the footwork, he will be an absolute force.
Overall, I think the MVPs are Justin Watson on the offense and George Karlaftis on the defense. They both looked regular season ready and stood out well. What I'd want to see out of this team is to just get the jitters out and get comfortable. Yes, there's a lot of guys competing for jobs, but it's also the very first game. The rust and inexperience will show, it's a matter of how you work through it. If guys like Joshua Williams, La'Jarius Sneed (of whom I saw some bad misses, NEEDS to be better), Josh Gordon, Ronald Jones, and others who are on that "prove it" type of mentality want to make a name for themselves, then they'll have to earn it and play with a chip on their shoulder come gameday. Training camp shows a lot, but it's nothing compared to actual gameplay. The Chiefs look to Washington after this, and will be expected to play well against another team that is highly likely to bottom feed their division. These are easy games that will provide a lot of experience for the young guys and those on the bubble, get them that and make these spots competitive. That's how you bring out the best in these guys, and hopefully there will be a better showing August 20th. Again though, it IS pre-season, worry not Chiefs fans. They'll be okay.
Burn Notice: 9/10 Anyone else outside for too long today???