Another preseason game, another loss for the Kansas City Chiefs as they were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers by an ugly score of 15-13 in the 2013 home opener at Arrowhead. There were ups and downs in this game, but it's clear this team has plenty of things to clean up before the start of the regular season. And that's ok. Two more preseason games remain before the opener in Jacksonville, starting with the next game in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. But the preseason woes continue for the Chiefs as they can't seem to get in the win column in August in recent years. But Chiefs fans just want to get in the win column when it counts, and for that to happen, let's review what needs to improve.
First off, the offensive line had their struggles last night. Seven sacks given up in total, including three to starting QB Alex Smith. Granted, this was a huge test for a team that only won two games a year ago and is still working to build chemistry with their new players and coaches. If you forgot, the '9ers played in the Super Bowl last year and have one of the best defenses in the league, so this was a challenge. Head coach Andy Reid and Alex Smith agreed that the pass protection breakdowns were a result from a combination of things.
"I think we have to do a better job of seeing them (blitzes) and picking them up," said Reid. "Sacks kind of get distributed around to everybody. If you want to point at just the offensive line, it's not always the offensive line; everybody's got a piece in that, so the bottom line is, we have to do better and those things can't happen."
"I think that kind of falls on all of us," said Alex Smith. "There were a few times that we didn't bring in more than we had, the ball has to come out and we have to execute outside. A few communication things up front we have to get ironed out."
Coach Reid probably had some bad memories come back to him after the o-line disaster he experienced last year in Philadelphia. So you can expect an emphasis on that area of the team to continue to work and build a solid foundation.
Another area that struggled continuously last night was at wide receiver. Time and time again Jonathan Baldwin can't seem to get it right come gameday. A few more dropped passes by #89 and ones where the ball hits him right between the numbers. He continues to struggle as the Chiefs are expecting him to step up this year in the new offense. And coach Reid just might be losing his patience with the big wideout.
"I can tell you that when given the opportunity in this league you'd better catch the football."
Baldwin has looked good in camp the last two years but when it comes time to strap it up for a game, he can't translate his play. And the Chiefs are digging deep to find out who can be the WR2 and compliment to Dwayne Bowe, who by the way has yet to catch a ball this preseason. For now, Donnie Avery is listed as the number two WR but things can change between now and September 8th. But for Baldwin, he better start focusing and work to get better or he might find himself off the 53-man roster when it's time to make final cuts.
RB Knile Davis also had some trouble catching the ball out of the backfield, but that's a problem the Chiefs were aware of and will continue to work with him on. Davis did have a couple of nice screen plays, letting the blockers set up and gaining good yardage. There's no question the difference of the KC offense without the All-Pro Jamaal Charles, but with a foot strain there was no need for him to play. Plus, Davis getting work with the first team offense is a good thing for both him and the team.
Enough with what went wrong in last night's game because there were also some good things too. The defense put together another solid performance, with only a couple of hiccups. Dontari Poe continued his stellar play, causing havoc in the backfield with a fumble. Akeem Jordan, Zac Diles, and Jerrell Powe all had a sack each and CB Sean Smith played great, picking off Colt McCoy. And for the second straight week the special teams looked exactly that, special. Quintin Demps did something Chiefs fans are not accustomed to seeing as he returned a 104-yard kickoff for a touchdown. And Devon Wylie returned a punt for 52 yards almost breaking it to the house. So Dave Toub's group has impressed so far this year and is proving why he is highly regarded as one of the best ST coaches in the NFL.
So although the Chiefs were unable to get in the win column, they were able to hang with one of the league's best even if it's just a preseason game. Alex Smith did not have one of his better games but that's all part of the process. There were positives and negatives, as there is in every game. Not having your starting RB doesn't help either. But it was only preseason game two meaning there are two left.
So you can bet coach Reid and company will attack those negatives head on to continue to make this team better.
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