It’s halftime at Soldier Field, and the Chiefs lead the Bears 13-0. Here are some quick thoughts.
1. Some quick depth chart notes: After starting last week’s game, I did not see rookie D.J. White log any defensive snaps at cornerback in the first half. Rookie Eric Murray, who also started last week, did not start but played as the third safety behind Ron Parker and Daniel Sorensen. Phillip Gaines started the game at cornerback in the nickel, but Steven Nelson was the man flanking Marcus Peters in the base 3-4 defense. Finally, Zach Fulton took all the first-string reps at center because Mitch Morse came down with a sickness and did not start.
2. Because I know many of you follow professional football due to fantasy reasons, here’s a free tip: Do not hesitate to select tight end Travis Kelce or receiver Jeremy Maclin. At all. Both these guys have looked terrific this preseason, and what’s more, they’ve each earned quarterback Alex Smith’s trust, which means they will each get the ball plenty. Throw in the fact that both these guys are often the first reads in the Chiefs’ passing offense, and you can rest assured each of these guys will give you quality value on Sundays. And by the way, if you’re in a two-quarterback league – and I know some of you are – I think Smith is primed to be a great QB2. He adds some rushing yards, he never turns the ball over, and the Chiefs will probably need to score more points to compensate for a defense that probably won’t be as good. Add that to the fact he’s never looked this comfortable in this offense before – he’s got it down pat – and he could be a really nice value guy.
3. Derrick Johnson is 33 years old, but he’s playing like a 25-year old. He’s the quickest linebacker on the field, and when you add that to his outstanding instincts, you get a Pro Bowl-caliber game changer. Johnson is playing his tail off, and along with Marcus Peters, is arguably the most valuable defensive Chief after Justin Houston. Get ready for another Pro Bowl season for No. 56.
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4. On the Chiefs’ first scoring drive, quarterback Alex Smith converted a third-and-14 by doing what he’s so good at – using his legs. He scanned through his progressions, spotted some daylight and took off for a 17-yard gain that extended the drive and resulted in a field goal. I covered this in my special section story for Sunday’s paper – make sure you guys cop that and support good journalism – but Alex is so good using his legs. He has plus athleticism, especially for a quarterback, and it gives him some playmaking ability that every good quarterback needs. Smith is very proud of this trait, and is confident that it’s one of the things that separate him from your average NFL starter.
5. It’s notable that with Jamaal Charles and Charcandrick West sitting out, the lead tailback was Spencer Ware – which is not a surprise – while the No. 2 guy was former undrafted free agent Darrin Reaves, not former third-rounder Knile Davis. When you add in the fact that Tyreek Hill took the first kick return of the game instead of Davis – the first time that’s happened all preseason – those do not appear to be good signs regarding Davis’ chances of making the 53-man roster. Perhaps the Chiefs just want to get a better look at Reaves and Hill vs. the starters, though – you never really know. FYI, the first roster cutdown day –in which teams have to go from 90 to 75 men – is on Tuesday. The Chiefs currently have 88 men on the roster following the release of veteran safety Stevie Brown and veteran receiver Mike Williams.
6. Chris Jones and the rest of the defensive line looked great today. Jones, with his combination of length, quickness and power, has a chance to be special. He has been consistently disruptive and has a Pro Bowl ceiling, provided he does not get a big head and continues to progress. Kudos to the defense for stepping up and containing the running game after two poor efforts to start the preseason. The first-string defense yielded only 27 yards on nine carries Saturday.