View Full Version : Chiefs Babb: Five things to watch in tonight’s Chiefs game

Tribal Warfare
08-13-2010, 12:09 AM
Five things to watch in tonight’s Chiefs game (http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/12/2146718/five-things-to-watch-in-tonights.html)

1 Matt Cassel’s poise. The Chiefs’ starting quarterback isn’t expected to play more than a handful of snaps, but it shouldn’t take long to notice a difference in Cassel — if the team’s offseason changes are working. The Chiefs added coordinator Charlie Weis and beefed up the offensive line, to say nothing of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe’s impressive training camp. Cassel might be rusty early — it is the first exhibition game, after all — but the Chiefs will need him to settle in quickly.

2 This year’s top three draft picks. First-round safety Eric Berry might be the team’s richest player, but wide receiver Dexter McCluster has attracted the most attention so far in camp. McCluster could become a major part of the offense, if he can avoid direct hits to his tiny frame. Berry was the major addition to the Chiefs’ defense, and it’ll be difficult to be patient as he finds his bearings in the NFL. Javier Arenas is likely to work as a kick returner, a weakness for the Chiefs in recent years, and perhaps spend some time as a nickel corner.

3 The Chiefs’ new-look defense. Coordinator Romeo Crennel has a new gig, but he doesn’t have many promising toys to play with. It’s time for ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson to take a step forward, and the Chiefs wouldn’t mind if a linebacker emerged as a surprise playmaker. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali led the team in sacks last season, but for better or worse, he hasn’t left much of an impression through two weeks of training camp. Oh, and Derrick Johnson begins his quest to regain his starting job at weak-side inside linebacker.

4 The team’s response to seven promising months. Ask some players, and they’ll tell you the Chiefs are 1-0 in 2010 — after defeating Denver in January to end last season. That sparked a wave of optimism that continued into free-agency and through the draft. The Chiefs have stayed mostly healthy, and some preseason predictions suggest the team might end its three-year streak of losing seasons. The Chiefs lost all four of last year’s exhibition games and started the regular season 0-5. They need to start strong this preseason — or at least show some promise — to make good on those expectations.

5 The changes since Tony G last played for the Chiefs. Look at the team now, and it’s hard to imagine it’s only been one full season since Tony Gonzalez was the Chiefs’ tight end. Since he last wore Arrowhead red in the 2008 finale, the Chiefs have a new general manager, coaching staff, quarterback, coordinators and philosophy. Amid all that change, Gonzalez was traded to Atlanta and will play against the Chiefs for the first time tonight. Gonzalez admitted this week that it would be “weird” to play against his old team, and it’s a good bet that it’ll be unusual for Kansas Citians to see an all-time favorite wearing another team’s colors.
| Kent Babb, kbabb@kcstar.com