Packers vs. Chiefs Preview: Coaches

With just one more preseason game to go, the Chiefs' coaches are about ready to head into a showcase season. With head coach Todd Haley now gaining the full support of his players, Thursday's game against the Packers will be the last chance to take a deep breath before the team's full plunge into the regular season.

The coaches have failed to call the right plays to score comeback victories in their previous three games, but we'll see if the team can do it in their final tune-up.

The offensive play calling against Philadelphia was mediocre at best for most of the game. Matt Cassel once again barely used his arm on passes longer than five yards, and when he did, it was incredibly rare. He stuck with handing the ball off to his running backs for most of the game, and it makes you wonder who was really the one behind it.

Cassel is clearly uncomfortable throwing the ball down the field, and wants to dump it off to his running backs or close receivers to almost no yardage. But is it because of the coaches fully knowing that their quarterback can't get it done? The offense has to start taking chances, and this last preseason game is their chance to do just that.

We know that Charlie Weis is the one calling the plays on offense, and he has to realize that he doesn't have Tom Brady under center anymore. Cassel is a different player and either Weis or Cassel needs to adapt in order to lead the offense. Sure, Brady has had one of the best offensive lines in the league to help him out, but Cassel's line is strong enough to give him plenty of time to look down the field, not pass the ball off like a hot potato once he gets it from the center.

Cassel needs to rock and fire the ball down the field.
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You can make the argument that there are plenty of factors which are out of the coaches' control. For instance, it's not Weis who fumbles or drops the ball, it's the runners and receivers on the field. We saw Cassel try and take a risk against Philadelphia when he attempted a flea-flicker. However, the play failed when the pass got knocked down by an Eagles defensive lineman. There were plenty of boos after Cassel had yet another bumbling moment in trying to roll the dice, but at least he tried. He needs to do that more.

The Chiefs are entering the 2010 season with one of the league's most touted running games with both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. This new regime boasts about "The Patriot Way"—a perfect model of how to build a team off of the "right" character and ability—but they need to remember that the Patriots never really rode their running game towards their three championships. In fact, every winning team needs a quarterback who can at least do what he's told. Cassel can't take a backseat while the rest of the offense rolls because he's the one who starts the engine.

The Packers will undoubtedly be the Chiefs' toughest opponent of the preseason after they embarrassed the Colts with a 59-24 victory. Yes, they scored 59 points in a preseason game, and there's no sign of stopping as the Packers are primed for a big season. While the Chiefs have been fortunate to hold opposing offenses to only about 20 points a game so far, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't going to settle for that. The Chiefs' defense is going to have to pull out all the stops—with their starters or reserves—and finally prove that their work with Romeo Crennel has been worth it.

It was really surprising to see the Chiefs' defense playing deep into the fourth quarter against the Eagles, but this game shouldn't be a repeat.

In fact, both teams more than likely won't have their starters playing that long. While there are still a few leaks, the Chiefs' defense is very strong. It would be a blessing to allow only 20 points in every game this season considering the team allowed over 40 points in a four week span in 2009.

Studebaker has been a stud for KC's defense in three preseason games.
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This game will mean more to the defensive coaches than their players. They'll finally realize that players like Derrick Johnson and Andy Studebaker deserve to be on the starting lineup, and that they can begin to sort through their reserves. It will give the Chiefs' reserve defenders a chance to redeem themselves after blowing a 17-13 lead against the Eagles. They need to show that they are just as tough on defense as their teammates who are further up the depth chart.

Say that the Packers jump on the Chiefs with an early lead—which they very well may—this game will give Kansas City the chance to show that they are capable of comebacks. They couldn't come back against Atlanta or Tampa Bay, and despite only having half a minute to topple the Eagles, they couldn't get it done then either. The Chiefs' coaches shouldn't have a game plan based around losing a lead then frantically trying to gain it back, but they should be prepared for it nonetheless.

With Rodgers and Charles Woodson resting late in the game, the Chiefs can test their reserve players to see if not only the talent can win, but also their coaching strategy. Haley should know that his mentor Bill Parcells was known for winning in any situation, and Haley should prove that he can too. Top Stories