08-09-2008, 11:30 AM
Emperor of the Universe
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What We Learned
|Thursday night, the Chiefs entered the bowels of Soldier Field with a plan to win the game. This entire offseason, Kansas City pointed to this football game. Yes, it was a preseason game, but the game in Chicago was the start of the long and winding road that will have many ups and downs in 2008.|
The Chiefs entered the game with many question marks. When it was over and the score stood 24-20 in favor of Kansas City, I know Head Coach Herm Edwards was proud of his team.
This past Monday I spent the entire day with Edwards, from 5:15 a.m. until nearly 11:00 p.m. Itís something we had planned to do for nearly a year, and the timing could not have been better. My day will be chronicled in the next issue of Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine.
The sense in two-a-days leading up to the first preseason game for this football team was one of huge anticipation. I could tell after Mondayís incredible practice sessions that the Chiefs were indeed ready to play the Bears, and that theyíd probably win the contest.
Since OTAs began in May you could tell the Chiefs had put the stench of the nine-game losing streak behind them. Gone were players who were either not talented enough or no longer fit into the long-overdue youth movement.
Thursday night the Chiefs came out and outplayed the Bears in every facet of the game. In the first half the offense scored a pair of touchdowns, something it didnít accomplish often in 2007. The defense wasnít stellar, but it was solid enough to stop a Chicago offense with plenty of question marks.
The point is that the Chiefs found a way to win the game in the fourth quarter. The third-string offense was able to put together a last minute drive, and that bodes well for the future.
The Chiefs now enter their final few days in River Falls with a swagger that will do nothing but help their confidence level over the next three weeks.
What We Learned:
QB Damon Huard - With his solid performance against the Bears, the Chiefs passed on former New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, as the Miami Dolphins swooped in and offered Pennington a two-year, $11 million contract. With those numbers, the Chiefs were wise to stick with Huard. That money can be used elsewhere in 2009.
QB Tyler Thigpen - During camp he threw interceptions, and his day in Chicago started the same way, but in the end he redeemed himself by connecting with wide receiver Bobby Sippio for the game winner. Thigpen has talent and guts, qualities you want in a young quarterback. Heís nothing close to Brodie Croyle, but has a chance to blossom into a solid backup.
WR Maurice Price - Itís hard to believe, but at the moment heís sixth on the depth chart. The Chiefs wonít carry more than five wide receivers and one of those spots is reserved for sixth-round draft pick Kevin Robinson, who should make his training camp debut this week. Price has been stellar since OTAs began. His touchdown catch late in the second quarter was a continuation of his development. Price is still a long shot but if he continues to play well he could steal a roster spot.
LB Derrick Johnson - That was an All-Pro performance for a man the Chiefs are counting on. In watching DJ the last week in River Falls, it dawned on me that he might be one of those players who just doesnít practice well. But when the lights come on, his game elevates. When you listen to Gunther Cunningham get on him in practice, youíd think he wasnít all that good, but Thursday he was all over the field. The linebackers are going to be the key for the success of this defense and Johnson appears ready to take that next step.
FB Mike Cox - I donít think there is much question that the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket will be KCís opening day starter at fullback. He and Chris Manderino are battling, but Cox has really turned it on this past week. He reminds me a little of Boomer Grigsby, but heís a better blocker and runs routes out of the backfield more fluidly. The Chiefs need a thumper and Cox appears to be that guy.
K Connor Barth - If there is a leader in KCís kicking battle it has to be the kid from North Carolina. Barth and Nick Novak are competing but to me the youngster is winning. Edwards has an ace in the hole in veteran John Carney, who is sitting at his San Diego home waiting for the phone to ring, but sooner or later like they did with their young quarterback, the Chiefs have to find a youthful kicker whoís nails in crunch time and can kick the ball into the end zone. Barth just might be that guy.
DT Glenn Dorsey - He will be back at practice this week and likely will make his Chiefs debut next Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs need his presence in the middle of the defensive line. Against the Bears, KCís front four wasnít all that great and if this defense is going to improve Dorsey has to lead.
LB Oliver Hoyte - In less than a week, Hoyte moved from fullback to linebacker and looks like heís been playing the position his entire life. With Napoleon Harris injured and on the outs with the coaching staff, Hoyte has come out of nowhere and likely has played his way onto the 53-man roster.
RB Kolby Smith - Heís another of the walking wounded but will be back on the practice field this week. Though Jamaal ďThe Texas CometĒ Charles has been rock solid the last week or so and Oklahoma State standout Dantrell Savage continues to shine, the Chiefs need Smith back in the lineup. He offers experience and the ability to carry the load in the running game if Larry Johnson is hurt or needs a breather.