In the span of just 16 plays and eight minutes, 45 seconds last week, the Kansas City Chiefs laid to rest two extremely important fears going into the 2008 season – one, that the offense will be boring, and two, my own personal fear.
If you remember, the last time we saw KC's offense in preseason with Herm Edwards at the helm, the playcalling was vanilla, the results were uninspiring, and you really felt like the Chiefs got a whole lot of nothing accomplished before the regular season started.
But not this time. What we witnessed in Chicago last week was proof that Edwards is making good on the promise he made about three weeks ago, when he outlined his plan to attack the preseason with a goal in mind.
"We need to win some of those games," Edwards told the Kansas City Star. "These guys need some confidence. We won't be playing the starters the whole game or anything like that, but we'll open the game up a little bit and give them some things they need to be successful."
What did Edwards give his offense last week in Chicago? Inspired playcalling. Fresh offensive tactics that might normally be kept under lock and key until the regular season, but instead were thrown out for all to see in a meaningless game. Heck, the Chiefs even used audibles.
There were no standard formations, no yawn-inducing runs up the gut with a boring slant pattern thrown in for good measure last Thursday. Here's a quick recap of the highlights from KC's first offensive drive against the bears.
• The Chiefs made an effort to throw the ball down the field.
• Brodie Croyle made use of an audible at the line of scrimmage five times.
• Kansas City's running offense featured the old Terrell Davis/Broncos bread and butter, the downhill toss.
• The Chiefs bootleg game, practiced extensively in camp, made appearances, with passes to both the tight end and fullback.
• Larry Johnson's touchdown run came on a fake-toss, counter left running play.
• The Chiefs used five different formations in one drive, with multiple variations on those formations.
Seriously, it was a lot of stuff to digest from just one preseason drive. Kansas City's offense showed incredible variety in just 16 plays. They ran from passing formations and passed from running formations. Brodie Croyle spent a time out when he didn't like a particular defensive look. The Chiefs even used motion, and the final play, the fake-toss counter, is just plain fun to watch executed correctly, especially since I don't recall it being run much, if at all, under the old Vermeil/Saunders/Solari offense.
The Chiefs really didn't have to show all of that in the first preseason game, but it's obvious they were making an effort to practice a key part of their offensive scheme while trying to put points on the board and win. That's exactly what Herm Edwards said he wanted to do three weeks ago.
Now it's time to keep the train from being derailed.
The Chiefs unveil the under-construction Arrowhead Stadium Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals. Nobody wants to see a repeat of last year's boring preseason home opener, in which KC's first-team offense, led by Damon Huard, ran 15 plays and gained 47 yards. The highlight of that unit's evening was a missed field goal from Justin Medlock.
It'd be great to see the Chiefs come out this weekend against the Cardinals and show us a few more bootlegs, throw the ball down the field and maybe even run that exciting trick play we saw in River Falls. There's plenty of stuff in Chan Gailey's bag of offensive magic just waiting to be revealed.
Give Chiefs fans another taste of the appetizer that was so delicious in the Windy City. Considering the way the New Orleans Saints opened last week against Arizona's first-team defense (13 plays, 80 yards, touchdown), seeing the Chiefs follow suit wouldn't hurt. To be frank, any parallels between the NFL's #4 offense from a year ago (the Saints) and KC's offense are a good thing.
The message here is simple – keep it up, Herm. It's good for the offense, it's good for fan morale, it might do wonders if the Chiefs are trying to stave off another 0-2 start. And yes, it might just sell a few more tickets before the Raiders come to Arrowhead in September, even if that's not the overriding goal.
To tell you the truth, if the Chiefs score another opening-drive touchdown I might just click over to ticketmaster.com myself. Keep it up!
Keep it up, Herm
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