Vanilla Offense Sets Tone

When the final tick of the clock signaled the end of Kansas City's 11-10 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday, most - if not all - in the media concurred that the game was an improvement over the contest in Cleveland. It wasn't pretty, to be sure, but you can find a few silver linings.

The defense showed signs of improvement, holding Miami's starting offense to just three points during the first half. But the big question among the fans is what to make of the struggling offense. The negative view is that right now, KC's offense just isn't good enough. The positive view is that it's only the preseason.

The latter is a cliché. The first one might have some truth to it.

There are many issues surrounding the current state of the offense. The obvious one is the quarterback battle. To me, Brodie Croyle - despite his interception - played a better game than Damon Huard, who did his best to get on track but could never get into a flow.

But was the lack of production from the offense entirely the fault of the quarterbacks? No. A vanilla offensive scheme had far more to do with it.

The coaching staff doesn't implement any real gameplans early in the preseason. The objective is to play as many kids as possible, get the veterans some work and avoid injuries. Chiefs running back Michael Bennett realized that after Thursday's game.

He wasn't happy with the offensive performance, but told me that the offense only used two running plays all night long – right or left.

That's got to be frustrating, but it's by design.

"It's hard when you go three and out," said right tackle Kyle Turley. "But it's up to the guys on the field to get first downs. We're still in a semi-training camp mode."

That "mode" was never more evident than when Croyle threw an interception in the second quarter of Thursday's game. For the second consecutive week he made a poor decision - one that could cost his teammates during the regular season.

"I thought I was going to be hit, and (Kris Wilson) ended up peeling on the swing route," said Croyle. "Instead of being a smart young man and throwing it on my third progression, I decided to give Kris a chance to go up and make a play. There I go again, another learning process."

That's the good thing about Croyle. In back to back weeks he's taken his lumps and has clearly learned from it. The fact that he's going through his progressions is a sign he realizes the mistakes he's making and can correct them.

The good news is that this week the entire offense will have a bigger playbook to work with.

"I think we have a playoff team coming in New Orleans," said Bennett. "They're still in the preseason as well and you don't know which players will play. We just have to focus in on what we have to do and hopefully we can open up it a bit more."

The third preseason game generally reflects how an NFL team will start the year. The Chiefs will probably play most of the starters on both sides of the ball into the third quarter – especially since it's a home game.

That means Croyle and company will get extensive work. It also means the players on offense will get some extra class work this week as the coaching staff opens things up a bit more, so they can truly gauge the progress they need to make before they're ready for the season opener against the Houston Texans.

How they process and execute those plays against the Saints could determine how daunting a task the season's opening month will be.

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