In the running game, Rams Running Back Steven Jackson ran around Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson and around linebacker Andy Studebaker. Both were ineffective in the first quarter and at this point it appears that the left side of the defensive front seven isn't that strong.
Yes it's early but Jackson was more interested in battling Rams right tackle Jason Smith in the first half. On several occasions the pair of Show-Me-State combatants were at each others throats after whistles had blown.
Studebaker was ineffective against the run and the pass o n Friday night. He looked painfully slow on the outside when attempting to tackle Johnson. And if the Chiefs are counting on him to be a starter this year, they better get either Justin Houston or Cameron Sheffield up to speed for the home opener in two weeks.
And if I were the Chiefs, based on the way Houston made an impact on his opening defensive series, he should start opposite Hali in the starting lineup on September 11th, when the Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills.
But what concerned me more than those deficiencies was the teams lack of pass rush and their inability of the linebackers to make enough plays to thwart either scoring drive.
The Chiefs are going to struggle all season if they don't find another defensive player that can consistently rush the passer. Linebacker Tamba Hali was double-teamed, held and tripped on each of the Rams initial touchdown drives.
The problem, besides the lack of yellow flags on the field, was that nobody stepped up on the other side and put any pressure on St. Louis Rams Quarterback, Sam Bradford.
All he did with the lack of pass rush by the Chiefs was complete eight straight passes that culminated in a pair of touchdown passes to Rams receiver Mike Sims-Walker and tight end Lance Kendricks.
Granted the defense made a better showing on the games third stand when Chiefs Linebacker Derrick Johnson intercepted Bradford deep in their own territory. But like Hali, he also needs help.
The man starting next to Johnson this season, Inside Linebacker Jovan Belcher, was beaten badly on the Hendricks touchdown catch and on both scoring drives, the aforementioned Studebaker was beaten twice for first downs when he was in pass coverage.
At the moment, the Chiefs are thin at the linebacker position on the inside. When Brandon Silas went down with a season ending injury this week, that left the team with a major hole to fill. I fully expect that General Manager Scott Pioli will find one or two of them when teams cut their rosters to 53 a week from Sunday.
What's even more troubling for the defense early this preseason was their inability of their starting cornerbacks to play tight bump and run coverage. For three straight games now, the outside corners continue to play soft coverage and on Friday night, that was easy pickings for Bradford.
Granted Brandon Flowers didn't play on Friday night and that meant Javier Arenas had to start in his absence. But for the most part, he was ineffective. His game is more suited to play the inside slot receiver than the outside receiver. Don't get me wrong he can be physical but he's more effective when he has less ground to cover on a slot receiver. Brandon Carr was healthy but also fell victim to some zone coverages that limited his chances to be the shut down corner the Chiefs hope he can be this season.
Granted I'm not all that worried but if the Chiefs defense is going to take the jump to facing a better schedule in 2011, they have to get stronger play at the line of scrimmage from their starting cornerbacks.
Let's hope that Friday nights game was just a choice by the defensive coaching staff to lay low until the regular season.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Why couldn't the Chiefs defense get off the field in the first quarter?
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com