Judging by Thursday's preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium, things have definitely changed.
An 11-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins proved that top to bottom, the home team has plenty of mettle - the Dolphins didn't so much beat the Chiefs as outlast them. Kansas City competed to the very end. But it was pretty apparent that even after all the work the team has put in this offseason, they've still got plenty left.
Naturally, the best measuring stick for this team will be next Thursday's game against the New Orleans Saints, a contest that will see the offensive and defensive starters log heavy minutes. The team will likely put together an actual gameplan for the Saints, to simulate a regular season outing.
The Chiefs' warts - both offensive and defensive - are a little disheartening right now. The primary issue on both sides of the ball is consistency. At times, the Chiefs have looked like a team ready to compete for the AFC West title. Other times, they've looked flat out bad, and as the Chiefs gear up for the season, that's not great news.
Offensively, the Chiefs have been hamstrung by numerous issues. The switching of starting quarterbacks back and forth has contributed to a slow start. Larry Johnson's ongoing contract dispute has placed his butt squarely on the bench. Perhaps that bench is in a Manhattan condo, but he's still not playing.
Combine all that with both starting tackles being out, and you'd think the Chiefs would have plenty of excuses, but the reality is the offense just isn't getting it done. They haven't run or passed the football with any great consistency. The young running backs haven't run the football aggressively and aren't doing a great job of catching it. The receiving corps has been up and down.
Both quarterbacks have struggled, especially Damon Huard. He hasn't looked good as a reserve or starter. He's been some what inaccurate, and at times appears to be in a hurry. That could be because of the poor offensive tackles, but Huard's a veteran. He knows how to play the game.
The offense seems to move a little better when Brodie Croyle's under center, but he's been very inconsistent. It seems as soon as Croyle makes a great play, he follows it up with a head scratcher. So far this preseason he's thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Hannon, but has tossed two awful interceptions - the first one when he panicked on a broken screen play and the second when he attempted a fade route off his back foot. Croyle's young, and it looks like the Chiefs will have to deal with that he gets more experience under his belt.
Defensively, the Chiefs just haven't tackled very well, especially on third downs. This defense has looked great in shorts and shells, but they bring their T-Rex arms when the lights go on. That's going to have to have to improve if the Chiefs want to be respectable this year. The only way this team is going to be successful is if the defense plays well, and they should be ready to deal with those expectations.
The good news is there are two preseason games left. Actually, it's more like a game and a half, as the last one will be final auditions. But who knows, maybe the Chiefs will be able to get it together. The Houston Texans are looming, and there's not a lot of time.
Chiefs Still Have Work To Do
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