Overall it was pretty poor performance from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Carolina Panthers are a good team but the boys in red had their chances to get a big road win. Kansas City. So as we enter the final week of preseason before the first roster cuts, some youngsters may have secured themselves a roster slot with some big performances.
It’s clear in two exhibition games, the Chiefs have a bevy of weapons at running back and at tight end this year. On Sunday night, they were on display again. With Jamaal Charles sitting the game out, back-up running back, Knile Davis ran for 30 yards on nine carries. The second year back is a gifted player and definitely will play a key role in keeping Charles fresh throughout the course of the season. His back-up, Cyrus Gray also had a pretty solid game by averaging four-yards per carry.
For the second straight week, Tight End Travis Kelce, found the end zone. This time on perfectly placed pass from Quarterback, Aaron Murray. Kelce grabbed the ball in open space and drug a trio of Panthers defenders into the end zone. Kelce is showing signs of being an outstanding weapon for this offense. Tight End, Anthony Fasano, also made a couple nice plays but missed a big opportunity to set up a first and goal inside the five-yard line when he could not hang onto an Alex Smith pass.
Speaking of Smith, he looked pretty efficient hitting 14 of 22 pass attempts for a respectable 127 yards. He also used his wheels to convert a long third down after the pocket collapsed. On the receiving front, Dwayne Bowe, looked as if had found some offensive rhythm. When his night ended he caught five passes for 62 yards.
It was good to see Smith and Bowe make multiple connections on the field. Though it was nothing like their last game against the Indianapolis Colts, they appear to be on the same page. Bowe will be missing in week one thanks to his NFL suspension but this was an important game for his confidence that showed his hard work has paid off.
Another receiver that stood out was Frankie Hammond Jr. He had a very good game, made a couple of great catches, including a 51-yard slant that was wiped out by penalty. Still Hammond is a guy that turned some heads and may eventually find a spot on the Chiefs final 53 man roster in the coming weeks.
Cornerbacks, Ron Parker and Sean Smith, have been in hot competition for a starting corner spot opposite Marcus Cooper. Against the Panthers it appeared they were competing to see who wanted it the least. For the second week in a row, Parker was burned repeatedly by Carolina receivers. Not helping his cause was the fact he was flagged for a 32-yard pass interference penalty that set up their first touchdown.
On the flip side of this battle, Smith got his opportunity but was burned by rookie receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. He was also gained a few yellow penalty flags adjusting to the NFL’s new check rules. However one of them extended the Panthers offensive possession that ultimately culminated in a touchdown.
Overall the Chiefs secondary looked much like the unit that was picked apart in the second half of last season. Heading into 2014 they brought back a very similar cast of characters and so far they’ve not shown enough to raise hope this season will be different. If these last couple games against Cincinnati and Carolina are any indication, this secondary may be an Achilles heel for the Chiefs defense.
Adding to the frustration of the night, Quarterback, Chase Daniel, did not look good at any point in his one series of play. He made a couple nice throws but nothing spectacular. His downfall was missing a wide open Cyrus Gray inside the 5-yard line. Second year man, Tyler Bray, has been hot on his heels all camp long, and while Bray didn’t get any playing time in this game, Daniel did nothing to secure his backup role. After this performance, there are some signs pointing to Daniel’s days in Kansas City being numbered.
No team gets through the preseason unscathed. The Chiefs got dinged up a bit in this one when Linebacker, Joe Mays (wrist injury) and Receiver, Junior Hemingway (hip) left the game. The good news is both players walked off the field and hopefully won’t miss too much time.
The Bad News
It has to be troubling to Head Coach, Andy Reid, his offensive line was absolutely abysmal in this game. Smith was hit almost every time he dropped back to pass and was put down several times on his backside.
But penalties didn’t help much as Donald Stephenson and Zach Fulton were called for possession changing penalties. But further, Jeff Allen and Rodney Hudson miscommunicated on a play an nearly got Smith’s head torn off as Panther defenders shot up the gut and took him down.
In the second half, Rishaw Johnson, may have played his way off the team with a holding penalty that negated Frankie Hammond’s 51-yard catch and run. But the biggest culprit was second year tackle, Eric Fisher. Putting it kindly veteran Panthers defender, Greg Hardy, had him for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On six separate occasions, Fisher missed blocking assignments that either led to a sack or losses in the backfield. Making matters worse he was called for a holding penalty that stalled one offensive drive.
Overall it had appeared that over the course of training camp, and the first preseason game, the offensive line was starting to gel and take some steps forward. Those illusions were shattered by Carolina and it seems to be back to the drawing board for the offensive line.
Coming up the Chiefs will host the Minnesota Vikings in their third pre-season game Saturday evening. It will mark the final opportunity for some prospective Chiefs to remain roster current. That aside, let’s hope for a better, more polished performance on both sides of the ball, especially by their struggling offensive line.
Chiefs Photos (Frankie Hammond, Jr & Aaron Murray) courtesy of Jeremy Brevard USA Today Sports
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Did the Chiefs take a step backwards against the Panthers?
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