For a franchise that’s supposed to be famous for uppercuts, the Kansas City Chiefs sure seem to be doing a hell a lot of damage this month from the straight jab. The Andy Gang — 2015 street cred: defense first, special teams second — leads the NFL in third-down conversion percentage in the preseason (58.3), while ranking second in the loops in exhibition points per game (27.3), second in first downs per game (23.3) and seventh in yards per game (346.7).
More crazy: The club’s 432 total yards against Tennessee last Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium was the most for a preseason tilt since it racked up 461 against the Giants in 2004. The Chiefs didn’t punt against the Titans, something that hadn’t happened in an exhibition contest for at least 16 seasons.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. Just what in the name of Dick Vermeil is going on around here?
“I think going into the third year with the same coach and the same play-caller,” quarterback Chase Daniel explained, “I think that’s when you want to see the (biggest) jump.”
Continuity has its perks. In a league where insecurity and philosophical makeovers are the rule, the Chiefs are into their third August with the same coach (Andy Reid), the same offensive coordinator (Doug Pederson) and the same defensive coordinator (Bob Sutton).
And the latter hasn’t had too dang much to complain about this month, either, relatively speaking: Chiefs opponents are rushing for 3.4 yards per carry (tied for third-best in the AFC) and 83.7 yards per game (second in the conference). More significantly, The Red Sea has yet to surrender a rush of 20 yards or longer in August — this after giving up four “explosion runs” during last summer’s exhibitions (tied for the most in the AFC) and eight more during the regular season.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, only one expected defensive starter has been credited through three preseason contests with more than one missed tackle in the run game (inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, with two) and only one has been tagged with more than missed stop on pass defense (cornerback Phillip Gaines, also two). The Chiefs are giving 15 opposing first downs per preseason tilt, the third lowest total in the AFC. The Andy Gang are getting their mitts on the balls in the air — their 15 pass break-ups are tied for fourth in the AFC — even if they aren’t quite cashing in yet on the promise of more takeaways, with only two picks and one fumble forced in three contests.
“And I think that by far, through the preseason games, we’re throwing it well, we’re blocking well, we’re running it well,” Daniel continued. Then he grinned. “And (with) Jamaal (Charles), we haven’t really unleashed him yet, either. So it’s going to be fun.”
Think about it: As September looms, the offense on Red Coat Drive is actually ahead of the defense. And given what we know — and trust — of the latter, that means the fun might only just be beginning.