The outcome of the Kansas City Chiefs second preseason game far surpassed its first effort. In handily defeating the Arizona Cardinals 38-10, Head Coach Andy Reid must feel better his team shook off the rust that plagued their last game. On Saturday, the offense and defense showed more energy, but it was the quarterbacks and receivers who won the night.
There is certainly much to learn from the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10 thumping of the hapless Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. We know Patrick Mahomes is still pretty good. In fact, his backups aren’t too shabby either. We continue to witness the rise of Chiefs young receiving group that runs eight men deep. Yet the guys in the trenches were simply amazing. For the second game in a row, Mahomes was a free man to do what he wanted with the ball. To that point, we might be seeing the best offensive line since the Dick Vermeil era.
On the flip side, the defense had a much better showing against a below-average offense, but that didn’t matter, because they showed some spark. At the heart of the defensive effort, guys played with more emotion, energy, and pride than last week. I’ve said it before, this team has depth on defense. Now to fortify that comment it’s high time the Chiefs and Chris Jones strike a deal.
Despite the contract saga with Jones, in game two some players stood out, and some might have even found a future roster spot.
Shane Buechele, Blaine Gabbert, and Chris Oladokun put together one heck of a game. In all the Three Amigos, completed 21 of 23 pass attempts and two touchdowns in the air and one on the ground. Buechele, a lock to make the 53-man roster, went 10 of 10 with a TD scamper, and Gabbert had a pair of short-yardage touchdown throws. Now, I don’t think there’s an actual battle to be Mahomes backup (Gabbert will get the nod), but I like the way Buechele played with the first-unit offense.
Rashee Rice dropped his first pass attempt in the game, then caught the next nine. His 96-yard performance showed flashes of his SMU days. He ran a plethora of routes, broke tackles, and showed the Chiefs what he can be in this offense. As Mahomes stated, he views Ross in the same light as Sammy Watkins. If Rice, can manage to stay healthy, something Watkins could not, he is going to be a massive weapon for Mahomes in his rookie season.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette might have been the surprise offensive star of the game. He caught four passes, amassed 92 receiving yards, and made a nifty catch and run to the end zone in the third quarter. The fact he plays special teams might increase his chances to squeak onto the roster. It’s doubtful he will land on the Chiefs practice squad, he’s simply too talented. So with the injury to Toney, and the fact the Chiefs probably will carry only three tight ends (Kelce, Gray & Bushman), it’s possible Reid carries eight wide receivers to start the season.
Danny Shelton has his eyes squarely on an active roster spot this season. For the second game in a row, he was stellar in run defense. In fact, he even showed his quickness in chasing down running backs. He had an odd 2022 campaign with the Chiefs, and though he spent most of his time on the practice squad, KC generally protected him and brought him back for another run. Nagging injuries have hurt his career recently, but those appear to be behind him.
La’Mical Perine might have moved past Deneric Prince on the active roster. Depending on what the Chiefs do with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Perine ran the ball well and was a force in protecting the pocket when his number was called to block. As for Prince, yes, he had a nice touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but his reps in practice have dwindled. He’s clearly a bubble guy now.
BJ Thompson had the lone sack of the game for the Chiefs. Now, that might not be saying much, but it’s significant, because the fact he covered so much ground, and forced the quarterback to surrender, tells me KC might have another defensive option on the depth chart.
The Chiefs starting offensive line, and their back-ups, to be honest, were equally sensational on Saturday. They didn’t allow a sack, and they displayed that mauler style that Andy Reid was known for in Philadelphia. The most impressive linemen were tackles Donovan Smith, and Jawaan Taylor. The bookend mates created a clean pocket for Mahomes, who has yet to be sacked this preseason. He had time to stand in the middle, or freelance as he loves to do within this offense. We knew the interior of the line with Joe Thuney, Creed Humphry and Trey Smith were the best in the NFL, but this group could be very special together.
Next up for the Chiefs is their only home game of the preseason this Saturday when they’ll face the Cleveland Browns. It’s doubtful Reid allows Mahomes to play, but with four or five roster spots still up for grabs, this is an important game for the bubble guys, and the guy General Manager, Brett Veach, might want to trade.