No team in the NFL needs the preseason more than the Kansas City Chiefs. After their dreadful 2012 season, there has been a complete overhaul in leadership, and the team will be adapting to a completely different style of play in every aspect of the game.
Coach Andy Reid and new offensive coordinator Doug Pederson have been getting very creative with the offense, trying to turn around last season’s most feeble passing attack with new quarterback Alex Smith.
The new passing game has been involving the tight ends quite often in training camp, which will make for an interesting position battle to watch throughout the preseason. Anthony Fasano, Tony Moeaki and rookie Travis Kelce will all likely be a significant part of the offense, but the depth chart will probably be shuffled again at some point before the regular season.
Right now, the chart has Fasano and Kelce listed before last season’s starter Moeaki. The injury-prone Moeaki can still battle back, but Fasano and Kelce have looked great in camp. It will be interesting to see what these guys do on the field.
Another player to watch on the offense is running back Knile Davis. The rookie flashed an elite combination of strength and speed at the NFL Combine, but has a history of both injuries and turnovers. Davis has not shown any improvement with his hands in camp thus far, and will need to prove he can handle NFL defenses.
The quarterback position will also be an exciting battle to watch. Smith and second-stringer Chase Daniel are all but cemented in their spots, but Ricky Stanzi and rookie Tyler Bray have a good competition going for the third and final spot. The talented Bray’s maturity issues held him back with the Tennessee Volunteers, but he has impressed the Chiefs’ coaching staff and is leading the competition at this point.
On the other side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is getting creative with a talented crew. The Chiefs’ defense returns four Pro Bowlers in Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, and had solid free agent signings with cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, along with defensive end Mike Devito.
The Chiefs were tied for last in takeaways last season, and Sutton has been employing a very aggressive style to try to improve in this area. He has been lining up Berry in almost every defensive position, while disguising coverage and blitz packages more often to confuse opposing offenses.
Sutton probably won’t show too much of his hand in the preseason, but it will be interesting to see if he can get a little more production out of the defense that underachieved last season. The only real position battle to watch is at inside linebacker where veteran Akeem Jordan is the starter as of now, but rookie Nico Johnson out of Alabama could challenge him for the job.