Here are five takeaways from the Chiefs’ second preseason game, which won 14-13 over Seattle on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
1. Should the Chiefs be entertaining a quarterback controversy?
No. Alex Smith threw an ugly interception for his second straight game, this time coming on a pick-six by Seattle inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. Smith later said that Seattle doubled his primary target and he didn’t see Wagner when he went to his checkdown. Meanwhile, Smith’s backup, Chase Daniel, lit it up for the second straight week, completing 8 of 12 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. However, the Chiefs have invested significant resources in Smith — remember, he’s in the first year of a four-year, $68 million extension — and he’s 19-11 as a regular-season starter. That’s pretty darn good, and it should be interesting to see what he can do with Jeremy Maclin as his No. 1 receiver and an improved group of targets. Still, Daniel absolutely deserves his props for ripping it up this preseason, and as a 2016 free agent, it must be said that he’s certainly helping his cause to potentially land a starting job next year.
2. Speaking of Maclin … how did he look?
The Chiefs got a brief glimpse of their burgeoning Smith-to-Maclin connection, as Andy Reid dialed up a brilliant play call on third and 3 at the Seattle 3. He lined Maclin up in the backfield, cleared out the left flat and had Maclin run what appeared to be an option route toward left sideline. Smith delivered a perfect pass and the two connected for their first touchdown (go ahead and insert your obligatory reminder that zero Chiefs receivers caught a touchdown pass in the regular season last year). It was also the first touchdown of the preseason by the first-string offense. Everybody take a sigh of relief.
3. What should be made of the first-string offensive line’s performance?
Well, first off it’s important to remember this isn’t the first-string offensive line, not with Jeff Allen and Eric Fisher out. The unit struggled early, as Smith was walloped on the first offensive play by two defenders and brought down for a sack a play later. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was making his first start, also had some tough moments. He was driven into the backfield on a pair of runs. That happened on at least one occasion to new right tackle Paul Fanaika, too. But Donald Stephenson — who played left tackle in college — had some nice moments in Fisher’s place, which was a positive sign should Fisher’s high ankle sprain linger. Bottom line, this group needs much more work together, and more experimentation probably wouldn’t hurt, either.
4. What should be made of Dee Ford’s injury?
Dee Ford was playing about as well as he has as a Chief prior to his second-quarter injury in which he was leveled on a chip block by running back Christine Michael. He was flashing power and speed, and was really giving Seattle’s left tackle, Russell Okung — a good player — a hard time, even causing him to commit a false start. Most importantly, Ford was also flashing some power and violence against the run, which is something he’s be working on. Ford missed a few practices last week with concussion-like symptoms, which was a bit scary considering the time he spent on the ground, but the Chiefs diagnosed him with a rib injury, and he returned to the bench. Chiefs coach Andy Reid later said that it looks like Ford has a fractured rib. More information on his status is pending. Reid is scheduled to speak again with the media at noon Saturday.
5. Any other interesting things stand out?
Yes. How about veteran outside linebacker Frank Zombo getting some reps with the first-string offense at inside linebacker? Zombo is a versatile player with special teams value, but the Chiefs have some interesting options at his position — including Ford, Dezman Moses and Josh Martin — and Zombo can help his cause by showing he’s a capable backup in the middle, where there are injury issues. Also, Frankie Hammond getting the first-string reps at punt returner with De’Anthony Thomas out is a positive sign as he battles to make the team. Finally, defensive end Mike Catapano (groin) and receiver Chris Conley (knee strain) made their preseason debuts after battling some injuries and got a little first-team work, to boot. Good sign for two talented young players the team would like to develop.