The headline of this morning's Kansas City Star sports section lead story is "It's Hard to Watch." Actually, it's much worse than that--it's painful to watch.
It's time for Chiefs fans to go into official worry mode. I, for one, bought into head coach Todd Haley's laissez faire attitude about the preseason. However, I expected the Chiefs to show a bit more last night--to play the starters longer, to look more serious about the outcome, to look better prepared, to actually try to win the Governors Cup in their annual preseason matchup with the St. Louis Rams.
What we got were the starters playing more minutes and not looking effective. What we got was a blocked field goal late in the game after a Ram turnover within the Chiefs' red zone. What we got were two neutral zone penalties, in a row, to end any chance of the Chiefs winning the game.
It was a sloppy effort in the third game of the preseason which typically is the time when coaches begin showing more and planning for the regular season opener. The usual hope is that game three is the key tuneup so that the regulars can be held back for the final preseason matchup prior to game one.
There were highlights last night--just not many. Derrick Johnson once again showed his freakish athleticism with an interception that put the Chiefs into position to win the game. Rookie QB Ricky Stanzi made a very nice touchdown throw. Justin Houston was a beast on defense. And, Jeremy Horne was impressive at wide receiver.
Look, I know the Chiefs only won one preseason game last year prior to their AFC West championship. This feels very different. The Chiefs don't look prepared and Haley's insistence on using these games as nothing more than a scrimmage is a big gamble. It's a gamble because the Chiefs must start 2-0 against the Bills and at Detroit--their schedule is very tough and a lack of momentum, and confidence, going into weeks three, four and five against San Diego, Minnesota and Indianapolis, prior to the bye week, will effectively end any chance of repeating as conference champs.
The Chiefs need to bring it this week at Green Bay.