The Chief's Stock Report (Preseason Game 3 Edition)
By Rob Gerster
For me, this preseason game was a good one because my son was visiting from Minneapolis and watched the game with me. He is a youth pastor so his Sundays are typically reserved for activities in the twin cities. Tonight we were able to re live his high school days of getting excited over long kick returns only instead of Dante Hall it was our rookie tandem of Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. We were both wearing jerseys from the nineties his was a Marcus Allen #32 and I had my usual Derrick Thomas #58.
Otherwise, the game ended like last week with a demonstration of the thin talent on the Chiefs roster. The first team held its own against a playoff caliber team, but once the top players exited the field the Chiefs were outclassed. Clearly the bottom third of the Eagles offense was better than the bottom third of the Chiefs defense. In particular, the need for drafting two safeties this year's draft was once again highlighted. After Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, and Jon McGraw the Chiefs have little at safety. Unless KC picks up someone else's late waiver wire cut, at least one deep defender will break camp with a job that he didn't earn.
Before we continue with the usual business, I would like to mention that Cameron Sheffield is in my prayers (as I am sure he is with many others.) I didn't have nearly the same worry over Maurice Leggett last week because he was up and moving before he was carted off. This looked much more serious. I reminded me of the hit on which Dennis Byrd broke his neck against the Chiefs. Fortunately one difference is that Byrd hit with more of the crown of his helmet. Godspeed Cameron.
Five whose stock improved...
1. The running back group got just about everything out of their opportunities that they could. With the exception of Jamaal Charles' fumble to open the game they were nearly perfect. Despite less than perfect blocking offered by the offensive line, they all did a good job of finding the crease and finishing runs with an extra couple of yards. They also did a good job and avoiding negative plays even when the play call doomed the runner to a sure loss. A "job well done" is due to Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, and Jackie Battle.
2. One player that is making a strong push to depose an established veteran is Andy Studebaker. His presence on this list would be obvious just for the sacks that he registered, but in addition he made numerous plays all around the field. The play in the late third quarter where he was spying Kevin Kolb looked like the play of a seasoned veteran.
3. Special teams so far in this preseason have been stellar. Once again tonight, we saw great individual effort by the returners, but the creases were there against a team that plays well in the kicking game. We saw good play in holding the Eagles to short punt returns, but one kickoff return ruined a perfect score for the coverage teams. Once again, Jeremy Horne popped up on the radar when he played the gunner position to perfection. He once appeared to be a very dark horse to make the final squad, but his play tonight on special teams might well have given him a roster spot.
4. Both of the young safeties clearly understand what is going on around them. Eric Berry did a fantastic job in run support early on, and then chipped in a couple of big hits in the area just behind the line of scrimmage. The only blemish was not quite getting that pick 6 on the sideline (yes, I am greedy.) Kendrick Lewis did get a big interception, and did it stylishly. It is uncanny that we got young Lewis for a fifth round pick – he looks like a player drafted in the same round as his running mate Berry. Sooner or later a top flight veteran quarterback will heap some abuse on these two, but knowing them they will learn an get better as a result.
5. The final spot is reserved for a guy that had the kind of game last week that left little room for improvement. However, Dewayne Bowe looked even better this week. In fact, he looked like that evasive dominant receiver he desires to be.
Five whose stock fell...
1. By this time in the preseason, you would hope that your quarterback would be dialed in. The only thing consistent about Matt Cassel is that he is inconsistent. The flaw de jour this week was his inaccuracy. A team that is committed to the run, and gains yards in the running game should be a quarterback's best friend. The passer repays that friend ship by exploiting the eight man box with passes that are both catchable and conducive to yards after catch. The Chiefs get neither out of Cassel.
2. I hope Charlie Weis was experimenting with different plays tonight because if he wasn't the play calling left a lot to be desired. The swing pass is either an attempt at getting a home run or widening out the defense. A steady diet of these tends to draw linebackers into the backfield. This means more pressure on an already nervous signal caller, which in turn leads to turnovers. This is a lethal combination.
3. Getting an unsportsmanlike penalty after a big kickoff return is no way to win a roster spot David Herron. I didn't see what you were accused of, but the wrong light just got shined on you. To make this team you will have to have a very special week.
4. The nose of the defense was regularly collapsed tonight. Admittedly the Eagles are very strong up the middle, but tonight they looked like they were all world. When the Eagles needed a couple of yards they went right to the middle. I have been critical of the Chiefs inside line backing, but tonight they did a pretty good job despite not getting a lot of help from the nose tackle.
5. As mentioned before, there are some defensive backs that do not belong on an NFL team. The most surprising is DeJuan Morgan – a former third round pick. Many draftniks thought that the biggest steal of the day came when the Chiefs drafted Morgan. I feel for the kid, but something isn't clicking.
This section is reserved for a sad time of the year. There a lot of young men that put everything they had into becoming an NFL player. This dream will be stopped short by many of them before it ever had the chance to blossom. There will also be older players that have taken so much punishment that they can no longer perform. They too will have the dream of playing another season snuffed out. Balancing out this is the joy of a young man that thought that he would be heading home and found themselves regular work as an NFL player. Good luck to all as the regular season approaches.
Through three quarters the Chiefs defense bent, but didn't break against an Eagles team that has some very real weapons. The one touchdown they gave up was on a short field turnover gift. Unlike the vanilla that Romeo Crennel has been serving the last two weeks, he unleashed some linebacker blitzes, and for the first time this year, a Chiefs opposing quarterback felt some real pressure. I think that Weis is working on specific plays each week. If not we are in some real trouble unless we go into full Martyball mode.