The Kansas City Chiefs stand 0-2 in the exhibition season, losing both games by a single digit. Granted wins and losses in August don’t’ mean much once the regular season begins. However, in just three weeks, the Chiefs will face off against the San Diego Chargers and they still have some pressing matters to be resolved.
So which players need to shine against the Bears?
CB Phillip Gaines – It will be a game time decision for the Chiefs to see if they feel, after a week of practice, their presumptive opening day starting cornerback will play against the Bears. With Marcus Peters locked down as the other starting cornerback, Kansas City is relying on Gaines to do the same on the other side of the defense. To date, Gaines hasn’t proven he can be a starter in the NFL. However, he’s shown enough flashes that I’m confident, if he can remain healthy, Gaines gives the Chiefs the best option to compliment Peters this season.
QB Alex Smith – The Chiefs starting quarterback is likely to play into the second half on Saturday. Smith has been nothing short of steady and confident during two exhibition games. To his credit, he’s faced a pair of solid defenses (Seattle and Los Angeles), and shown he can move the ball and score points. The key for Smith this season won’t be the game manager label that seems to be his NFL legacy. Instead, it will be his willingness with better receiving options and a stronger offensive line, to take more chances down the field. Against the Bears those options should be wide open.
WR Tyreek Hill – In camp, there’s little doubt Hill has the makings to be special for the Chiefs this season. However, I’ve yet to see that flash come to life on the NFL stage. Granted he’s a rookie, and I’m probably asking too much of the first year player, but he needs to have a big game on Saturday. I have no doubt about his abilities, but he needs to turn some heads on Saturday, so he can take the next step mentally. To his credit, Hill has answered his critics for his past and acted like a man since arriving in Kansas City. Now it’s time to perform like a legitimate football player on the NFL stage.
DT Dontari Poe – With Chris Jones putting together a stellar month of August, Dontari Poe has been steady in a pair of pre-season games but not overwhelming. That’s a big concern for a player in a contract year. If he wants that big coin in the off-season, he needs to force the Chiefs hand to get those big bucks. Thus, Saturday would be a good day to show he’s deserving of a new deal. At some point, the former first round pick, must become a dominant performer for an entire season. No time like the present to show that in 2016 he can do just that.
CB D.J. White – He’s received glowing accolades from his coaching staff and I’ve already stated I he was the Chief best late round pick. White has everything you want in a cornerback. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, made a few mistakes, but overall has not disappointed anyone with his on field presence. He understands the cornerback position so well I think he could play first team defense for the Chiefs. With Gaines still getting his footing, White and Steven Nelson, bring another gear to the Chiefs nickel defense packages. However, White has the makings to become the second coming of one of my favorite Chiefs of all time, Kevin Ross.
HC Andy Reid – This is a big game for KC’s head coach. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the actual regular season game plan he will use on Saturday against the Bears. He’s certainly opened up some of his playbook this summer. Still, nobody can argue that Reid is a conservative play caller, and he’s tried to force feed his passing game in three seasons in Kansas City, but he needs to push the play calling envelope even further. At this stage of his career in Kansas City, Reid has a better offensive line, and enough assets in the passing game, to go all in to win the AFC West in 2016. On Saturday, I want to see some flair from the offensive Maestro.