Red Zone

Why you should focus on the Chiefs’ offense at Seattle, plus notes on Mahomes, Parker

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) stiff-arms Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Marquis Flowers (53) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Cincinnati.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) stiff-arms Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Marquis Flowers (53) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Associated Press

Some midweek notes as the Chiefs prepare to play preseason game No. 3 against Seattle on Friday at CenturyLink Field:

▪ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs will have a mock game plan for the Seahawks, but nothing as comprehensive as the ones they use for the regular season.

But even when the real game-planning starts, Reid expects his players to pick it up quickly.

“It is nothing they haven’t had at least part of camp,” Reid said. “They understand the install process and what we put in each day and you go through and explain that.”

▪ One of the redeeming factors of the second and third preseason games is that teams try, at least a little bit, to win. Even a mock game plan, like the one the Chiefs are expected to use Friday, is a reflection of a team’s basic concepts and fundamental building blocks on both sides of the ball.

Seattle, for instance, is going to play a lot of Cover 3 defensively, which is their bread-and-butter coverage. Knowing this, the Chiefs can dial up some basic Cover 3 beaters, and the staff can make evaluations on the players based on how well they execute against simple concepts.

“They’re a disciplined defense that plays physical — they’re really sound,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “They aren’t a crazy, exotic pressure team by nature.”

This means the Chiefs’ offensive coaches should be able to see what kind of upside a young player might have on Friday. If a young Chief can out-athlete a similarly-young Seahawk while executing simple concepts, maybe he could do the same down the road against better players once he masters more difficult concepts. Just something to think about.

▪ Evaluations can also be made against tricky teams, too. For instance, the Cincinnati Bengals — who the Chiefs toppled 30-12 last week — brought a decent amount of pressure for a preseason game. Cincinnati recorded three sacks, and those can be learning experiences for the Chiefs.

▪ Your daily Patrick Mahomes update: I asked him Monday how the memorization of Reid’s extensive playbook is going. He seemed confident that it’s going well, something Reid has suggested multiple times.

“It is definitely getting better day-by-day,” Mahomes said. “There are some plays in there that are still 18 or 19 words you have to make sure you stay on top of, but for the most part it is getting better and I am trying to make sure I can emphasize the important parts and make sure I can get them out smoothly.”

First off … a 19-word play call sounds insane, but it’s about right. One of the favorite stories I’ve ever written was about Reid’s famously-long play calls, back in 2014.

The good news is that Mahomes is getting no shortage of help in the huddle. With so many players back from last season’s team, there’s very little that gets lost in translation.

“There are some times where I might stutter on a word or two, but I make sure to slow myself down and call it the right way,” Mahomes said. “I have great O-linemen and great receivers that help me out.”

▪ Here’s your reminder that Chiefs safety Ron Parker, an underrated, valued member of the secondary, was released by the Seattle Seahawks FIVE times.

“Ron Parker coming from Seattle to here, he had some great tutors there,” Reid said. “They have a tremendous secondary. When he came over here, he was able to bring some of that with him.

“By nature, he is kind of a quiet, shy guy, but he sure has done a nice job for us stepping up and being a good leader and just a good, solid piece for us at safety.”

Parker also seems to have good relationships with Eric Berry and Marcus Peters. I’ve seen him casually chatting with Peters regularly the last few years, which is probably helpful for the times Peters loses his cool.

For instance, when Peters was called for a taunting penalty against Houston last year, it was Berry and Parker who stood up for him in the locker room, conveying a message of support and understanding for their teammate and friend.

“Sometimes you gotta calm him down,” Parker told Star columnist Sam Mellinger. “Sometimes you gotta let him be himself. Because that’s all he knows. As an individual, that’s all you can ask for. You want guys to be themselves. Sometimes Marcus gets out of hand a little bit, but he does a good job of calming down.”

It’s a really good example of why the support system in Kansas City, with a firm but caring players coach in Reid, is perfect for Peters, who has blossomed into a star and one of the league’s very best at his position.

▪ A number of scouts from the Chiefs’ 2017 opponents were on hand in Cincinnati. That includes Steve Cargile of the New England Patriots (Week 1), Brandon Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2), Tolu Lasaki of the Houston Texans (Week 5), Phil Kreidler of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 6) and Brett Maxie of the Dallas Cowboys (Week 9).

For what it’s worth, the Bengals will also face the Texans and Steelers this season. But the Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys were likely there to get an advanced look at the Chiefs, because those teams don’t face the Bengals this season.

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