The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 28-25 in their third preseason game on Friday. The victory cemented the Chief’s undefeated 3-0 preseason record, and the team demonstrated strong play on both fronts.
Talk about an impressive outing for the Kansas City Chiefs starting defense.
In the first half against the Minnesota Vikings, the team’s physicality and aggressive play calling was evident.
L’Jarius Sneed, who had an excellent rookie season, has continued to show why he can be the next big face for the secondary. He had some excellent tackles in open space and even had a great pass breakup in the first quarter. Overall, his versatility and smarts will be huge for the Chiefs this upcoming season.
Another player that showed lots of promise in the first-team defense is Willie Gay. Even though he suffered a knee injury last season, he has not shown any signs of slowing down. His ability to scan the field and prevent big plays was on full display. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo will be delighted to have a rangy, do-it-all linebacker on the front seven.
Overall, the Chiefs’ starting defense did an excellent job. They didn’t allow any big plays and stood stout for an entire 15 minutes of football. With only a field goal allowed, this is a positive sign for things to come. They will play a crucial role when the season starts against the potent Cleveland Browns offense.
However, the second-team defense looked the most impressive.
During the offseason, Chiefs’ General Manager Brett Veach took a chance on two former first-round pick cornerbacks, De’Andre Baker and Mike Hughes. It’s been paying off ever since.
Baker’s ability to play one-on-one against other wide receivers and use his strength to swat the ball is outstanding. Should he find more playing time in the regular season, he could slowly blossom into a great outside corner.
Hughes has been utilized in multiple roles for KC. His speed has allowed him to return the ball on special teams (he almost had a huge punt return for a touchdown, but was called back via penalty). It also gives him a chance to line up against other speedy wideouts and battle toe-to-toe against them. Should he continue playing at a high level, he could find his way to a starting position.
The second-team defensive line has done a good job plugging in the open holes made by the opposing team’s offensive line. Chiefs’ defensive tackle Khalen Saunders has been especially impressive, completing his given assignments on every down play. His presence should allow star defensive end Chris Jones to play more on the outside.
The front seven has once again shown what the team is looking for: aggressive and physical play. In all the downs they have played, not once did any of the defenders give up. They all finished their tackles and did not allow a single point.
Seeing the second-team defense play so well gives many fans like me hope for the future. With tons of depth at multiple positions, it’s going to be nice to have some quality producers if and when a player gets injured (knock on wood).
While there were some things to be excited about for the second-half squad, the issues outweigh the good in this case.
Defensive end Tim Ward, a preseason standout, tallied a sack and a forced fumble. Rookie defensive end Joshua Kaindoh was just at the right place, at the right time, to recover the fumble.
Safety Armani Watts also hauled in a pretty easy interception. Vikings rookie quarterback Kellen Mond overthrew it and it was right there for the taking.
There is also still some of that aggression and energy that was evident in the first half.
Mond was able to dissect the defense, however. The defense looked so lost out there. At times, gaps were wide open for running backs and wide receivers. Big play after big play, the third-and-fourth stringers didn’t execute the game plan.
The run defense was also just as bad. The Vikings’ offensive line manhandled the defensive line when it mattered, allowing running back Asim Rose to have ten total carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Even the cornerbacks were not able to keep up. They would start to lose their assignments and give pass catchers all the opportunities in the world.
However, one player that stood out was training camp phenom Devon Key. Not in a good way though. After being talked up all during the offseason, his lackluster performances have shown that he is expendable.
In the end, the Chiefs had a solid night in terms of defense and special teams. The starters look dangerous. They all have developed this nice chemistry with each other that should allow them to improve. The backups had a somewhat nice performance. The issues were noticeable, but expected.
A ton of the players showed why they should stick around; it is going to be hard to slim up the roster. Nonetheless, in Veach we trust.
If there were any questions about the Chiefs’ offensive threats being any less sharp this season, those can go out the window.
The starters looked almost flawless in the first two drives of the game. On the first drive of the game, Kansas City’s pride and joy, Patrick Mahomes, completed both of his pass attempts for 63 yards, ending with an all too easy touchdown to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill ran untouched right past the Vikings’ cornerback in coverage on a fly route, scorching by and catching a 35-yard pass in the end zone.
On the second drive of the game, Mahomes was finding receivers over the middle of the field, and continued to pick apart the Vikings’ coverage. The drive ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Blake Bell, two plays after a 20-yard by Demarcus Robinson over the middle.
Mahomes and the starters were pulled after the second drive. Andy Reid had already seen enough to prove why his offense is still the top threat in the league.
During the two drives, Mahomes went nearly perfect, completing eight of nine passes for 117 yards and the two touchdowns.
The starters also made good efforts once coming into the game. Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne did not see the field Friday night, meaning Shane Buechele had plenty of time.
The offense cooled off for most of the third quarter, as Buechele was sacked twice and could not find any receivers downfield. On the Chiefs’ last drive before halftime, Buechele found Marcus Kemp for a 23-yard touchdown, scoring with less than a minute left in the half. It was a nice catch for Kemp, who is proving to wide receiver coaches and head coach Andy Reid why he deserves a spot on the roster.
The second half was quiet for the Chiefs’ offense, but with eight minutes left in the third quarter, Buechele connected with running back Derrick Gore on a monster 56-yard touchdown. Gore, who is also fighting for a roster spot, showed a lot of upside in Friday night’s game.
Buechele finished the night with 231 yards and two touchdowns, but did throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. All in all, it was a solid performance for the young quarterback.
Chiefs fans have a lot to look forward to with their starting unit once again in the regular season as they hope for another Super Bowl appearance.