First, there was the fact the Chiefs really couldn't run the ball against the Vikings. At all, even without Pat Williams in the lineup for Minnesota. Kansas City's first-team offense totaled 65 yards rushing in the first half a week ago, but 29 came on quarterback scrambles and an end-around, and the Chiefs' longest run (an 18-yard burst by Larry Johnson) came against Minnesota's second-team defense.
After a comparatively dismal showing against the Texans in their first preseason game, Todd Haley has to be wondering if his team has any sort of rushing attack at all. Will the Seahawks provide any sort of challenge in that regard?
Northwest Football Publisher Doug Farrar called Seattle's defensive line "stout" in our Behind Enemy Lines preview this week. Through two weeks of preseason, that analysis has definitely borne itself out in how the Seahawks have stopped the run, as both the Chargers and Broncos struggled to even approach three yards per carry against Seattle in the first half of play.
However, as Farrar noted, Seattle's starting defensive tackles (Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole) "ain't no Williams Wall," a comparison to the Vikings. Given that, it would seem fairly obvious – if the Chiefs are worth anything as a run-blocking unit, they should prove it tonight against the Seahawks.
The flip side of that equation is how the Seahawks defend the pass. Or rather, how they don't. Last season Seattle ranked dead last in the NFL against the pass, and only one team allowed more passing touchdowns. Early returns in 2009 don't indicate much improvement, as last week Kyle Orton ran the Broncos up and down the field against Seattle, even without Brandon Marshall.
Let's not forget Haley is supposed to be a passing-game guru. If the Chiefs have gameplanned at all for tonight's contest, as NFL teams often do for the third preseason game, we ought to see some efficient production from KC's passing game. Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe and a few receivers to be named later ought to impress us tonight. Because if you can't beat the NFL's worst secondary, who can you beat?
However, with Patrick Kerney, Daryl Tapp, and a seventh-round rookie named Nick Reed (who has come out of nowhere to terrorize quarterbacks this preseason), the Seahawks have the pass rushers to make Cassel run around just as much as he did a week ago in Minnesota. We'll find out quickly if Barry Richardson can make his case as KC's starting right tackle. There's no question Branden Albert, who has been off his game a little this preseason, will get a good regular-season tune up against Kerney.
And speaking of passing games, we can't ignore Seattle's. After an injury-plagued 2008, Matt Hasselbeck has shined this preseason for the Seahawks, completing almost 70 percent of his passes. He torched the Broncos a week ago – can the Chiefs stop him?
Certainly, they didn't slow down Matt Schaub two weeks ago, and Tarvaris Jackson had his way in Minnesota. If Kansas City's pass rush can't get to Hasselbeck tonight, the yards might pile up. Not only will Tamba Hali will have his hands full with left tackle Walter Jones, but if the Seahawks have prepared at all for Clancy Pendergast's blitzes (again, it's the third preseason game), we'll see just how improved the Chiefs' defense really is.
Finally, there is the battle of the first-round picks. It's no secret that Tyson Jackson, picked one spot ahead of Seattle's Aaron Curry this April, hasn't exactly set the preseason NFL on fire this August. Jackson has one tackle and, generally, has been lost in the action at the line of scrimmage. He hasn't been noticeable.
Surprisingly, the same can be said about Curry, who has just two tackles and missed last week's Seahawks game with a groin injury. As the closest thing to a sure bet in this year's rookie class, Curry is supposed to be showing up already, especially playing linebacker, supposedly one of the easier transitions for a rookie to make.
Will Curry or Jackson do anything tonight to justify their draft position? There will probably be more than a few Chiefs fans sitting at Arrowhead Stadium that will quietly wonder what could have been if Curry dumps Larry Johnson for a loss. But if Jackson makes a play or two, no one will care.
It would seem that Curry and Jackson, like the Chiefs as a whole, have plenty to prove tonight.
Chiefs Have Plenty To Prove Against Seahawks
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