In 2010 we saw the emergence of the Kansas City Chiefs as playoff contenders with players like Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe living up to expectations and making a big impact to take the team to the playoffs with a 10-6 record. In 2011 however it all went to pot as, facing one of the tougher schedules in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs seemed to collapse as Jamaal Charles got hurt and Bowe and Cassel had forgettable seasons.
In 2012, the Chiefs are coming back.
I went back and watched Kansas City’s first two preseason games against the Cardinals and Rams and saw a lot of promising signs. Let’s face it, it’s easy to look good against those two defenses – although the Rams actually fought back – but I wasn’t interested in scores or flashy moves. I wanted to see how the key offensive components were settling into the new scheme of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and what I saw encouraged me no end.
First off, quarterback Matt Cassel looks as comfortable as I have ever seen him. If there was one thing that’s always been noticeable about Cassel it is that he always looks tense in the pocket. Now nobody is going to mistake Matt Cassel for a mobile quarterback and his footwork has always been a big part of that as at times he has the tendency to look like a statue while in the pocket. From the film of him so far in the preseason it looks like he’s finally starting to loosen up a little – something that is always a good sign when you’re looking for a quarterback to step up and make the adjustments necessary to lead a team. He was also making pretty good decisions out there and appeared to be working through his reads with poise. Plenty to be encouraged about there.
Closely associated with the fate of Cassel is that of running back Jamaal Charles. After Charles tore his ACL early last season, the Chiefs offense often looked lost in the remainder of the season. This preseason JC looks like his old self, moving freely and getting open as easily as ever. It looked like the knee was 100% and he displayed moves that left you in no doubt that the former Pro Bowler is not only healthy but that he hasn’t lost a step.
Finally there is Dwayne Bowe who this week finally decided to come in from the cold and sign his franchise tender. While I wasn’t able to see him play this week, the fact that Cassel has had a pretty good time of it passing should mean that once Bowe is out there we should see some real fireworks. When he showed up and signed his contract, Bowe did the most important thing he could – he passed his conditioning test easily on the first attempt. That tells me that at the very least Bowe is focused and has shown discipline during the offseason – something that has been lacking in many past seasons. I’ll be paying very close attention to how much Bowe plays in game 3 and how effective Bowe is out of the gate.
The next preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks should tell us a lot about what we should expect from the Kansas City Chiefs offense in 2012 as the Seahawks defense is one that has really come along the past year or two and should provide a good test. We should see both teams top options in the game for at least the first half and possibly most of the third quarter as well – tune in if you can as you may see some entertaining attacks from this Kansas City offense.