The Chief's Stock Report (Preseason Game 2 Edition)
By Rob Gerster
Assessing preseason game 2 in Tampa Bay is a tricky task. The Chiefs lost. That is bad. The offense showed signs of life. That is good. The Chiefs were -3 on the turnover battle. That is bad. The special teams were excellent. That is good. I could do this all day. Overall, I saw an improving team that is keeping things very vanilla this preseason. I watched a team that came out like it really wanted to win, but the coaching moves were solidly in line with a staff that is determined to get the team exactly right when it takes the field in the regular season.
Five whose stock improved...
I have read my esteemed colleague, Steve Brown's, take on the game, and he and I will have to disagree on Tyson Jackson. I liked his game last week. I loved his game last night. Tampa did absolutely nothing offensively on Jackson's side, and it was not for a lack of trying. Jackson's job in this defense is to occupy blockers to free up Mike Vrabel and Derrick Johnson. He was that and more last night. One of the complaints about Jackson last year was that he was on the ground all the time. He was on the turf last night also, but with a running back underneath him. This is a good thing. In his last series, he hurried a pass that sailed high over the intended target.
Welcome back to the game Mr. Bowe. After a game in which he did an excellent imitation of Claude Rains (The Invisible Man), Bowe had several catches last night, and looked a lot like the man that was determined to be moving up to the next tier for wide receivers. He also missed out on drawing a rather obvious pass interference due to the fact that it is preseason for the game officials as well. Most of the work last night was of the short pass variety, and that is the exact type of pass that Bowe seemed to lose concentration on in the past. That fact made the end result doubly pleasing.
Jovan Belcher is making a hard play for a starting job as the "Will" linebacker in just his second year. He continued his good play from last week by making good drops in pass coverage, and using the hard work of Glenn Dorsey to do what the inside linebacker in a 34 is supposed to do – clean up the blocking wreckage in front of him with a tackle.
I have to throw Matt Cassel into the improving stock category. He improved this week proportionally with his protection. He had some nice accuracy, and made quick decisive decisions. Those were two things that were not present last week. The best thing I saw all night was a pass five yards out of bounds. Why? Tampa switched to a defense that was sending more blitzers than protectors, and his hot receiver was blanketed. He did the smart thing and threw it away.
Did Jeremy Horne read my column last week? He answered my question as to whether he can catch the ball as well as he gets open. He can. The coaching staff quickly pulled him from the game. That made it look like they might be looking forward to trying to sneak him on to the practice squad. All I can say is, don't let us have another Joe Horne moment, please.
Five whose stock fell...
Brandon Carr must be listed here. He has had an inconsistent camp, and last night was an evening which I am sure that he would rather forget. He wins the Ryan O'Callaghan memorial award for the player that puts the team most at risk. However, unlike O'Callaghan, we have options at cornerback, but with what appears to be two starting rookie safeties, the preference would be for Carr to get his game together.
Thomas Jones didn't do anything that terrible with the notable exception of the fumble on the third play of the game. He did look like Larry Johnson with some blocking ability. Keep in mind that I mean the 2009 Johnson, not the 2005 Johnson. I will say that his deliberate speed does make Jamaal Charles look really fast. My final comment is that he looked like the kind of back that tries to make a move to finish a run instead of running hard into contact. These are not good memories.
Quinten Lawrence's days are numbered with the Chiefs. I watched the game with my friend and a McNeese State alumni (the same school as Lawrence), and he was very disappointed in the fleet receiver's game. He looks very tentative in both returning kicks and in the passing game. For a speed receiver this is not good. Jeremy Horne serves basically the same function as Lawrence, and has looked much, much better.
The performance of the tight ends in the first half left a lot to be desired. Pope did a lot to shore up the right tackle area, but once again fell down shortly after making a catch. There is so much potential for the tight end in the Weis offense, and we are getting very little of that potential tapped. Where was Tony Moeaki last night? I saw him suited up, but he never went in.
It isn't nice to pick on more than one guy that will not make the team , but Jackie Bates cemented his fate when he fell down on a play in which he was the last man to stop a touchdown.
In reality Jackie Battle had a great game. He did do this against future ex Buccaneers however. This isn't Battle's fault since he can only play against the guys that are there. We are so stacked at running back that it will hard to get him playing time with the first team unless there are injuries.
I really liked what I saw against the run. Romeo Crennel is dialing in on the defense that he wants to run. Last night he blitzed less than against Atlanta, and his coverage failed him at times. I do think that he was able to see enough play that he will be able to make the adjustments needed to be successful starting in September.
I would like to have seen the offense go down field a little bit more, but I think Weis was trying things out in the short game. It looked like the short game and Matt Cassel were developing a good rhythm when halftime and the end of Cassel's night came.
Next up: the Eagles