First Impressions – Rams @ Chiefs

| August 28, 2011

Steven Jackson set the tone and the rest of the first-team offense followed. The Rams jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead that allowed them to set the tempo for the rest of the game. St. Louis was held scoreless the rest of the way, but 14 points proved to be plenty for a relentless defense that limited the Chiefs to a meager 58 yards on the ground. After giving up 190 yards rushing the week before, stopping the run had to be the No. 1 one priority going into last night’s game.
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Kansas City came into Friday night’s game winless and had shown little life as a team in the first two weeks of the preseason. Game 3 proved to be no different as the Chiefs struggled to get anything going on numerous occasions. Penalties and a lack of third down efficiency killed any chance of gaining momentum as the game went on. The Chiefs ended up 3-of-14 on third downs, while being flagged for eight penalties.
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St. Louis – Three Things of Note
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● Up until now, there had been very little action for Steven Jackson. In years past, Jackson has played very little in preseason, if at all, and it has been a bit of a mystery as to what role he would take on in McDaniels’ offense. Many are thinking that he could easily lose five-to-eight touches a game to Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood. So, coming out and dominating right out of the gate was essential to quieting the naysayers. Jackson was fed early and often, carrying on five of the Rams first six plays. His first run of the night was a 25-yard burst down the right side where he used Harvey Dahl as his personal bodyguard. Patience behind the line scrimmage allowed him to pick the developing holes time after time.
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● The solid play of St. Louis’ defensive line truly proves that each week is a new and full of adjustments. Last week against Tennessee they couldn’t get off blocks and had trouble staying true to their gaps and playing disciplined football. It’s hard to tell exactly what was changed, but whatever it was worked. Aside from the two sacks and the blocked field goal, the thing that stands out to me the most is that the defensive line forced Kansas City into six holding penalties. Without a doubt, rookie defensive end Robert Quinn has shaken off the rust from his one-year hiatus. Quinn played with a confidence that I had yet to see from him – he was reacting more and thinking less. On his first sack of the preseason, Quinn managed to escape a hold by spinning away and grabbing quarterback Ricky Stanzi by the ankles. But Quinn wasn’t finished there; he went on to later block a field goal attempt that would have made it a one-point game.
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● As an overall well-played game on both sides of the ball, St. Louis’ offense seemed to go into a shell after their first two drives. The opening series of the game was a doozy. A 12-play, 73-yard drive that spanned more than seven minutes. It featured eight runs and four pass plays, which eventually led to a six-yard Mike Sims-Walker touchdown. On their ensuing drive, Sam Bradford connected with rookie tight end Lance Kendricks for an 11-yard score. The Rams offense covered 133 yards total on both drives. From that point on, St. Louis only mustered 188 more yards. Give credit to Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs’ defense for making proper adjustments, but St. Louis needs to keep the pedal down until the end of the game.
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Kansas City – Three Things of Note
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● Riding the high of an impressive 2010 campaign, Derrick Johnson seems to have picked up right where he left off. Last night, Johnson was one of the lone bright spots on an overall dismal Chiefs defense. On the Rams’ third offensive possession of the night, Bradford was looking to march the troops right back down the field for a third consecutive score. He dropped back on a pass play where Greg Salas was the primary receiver and never took his eyes off of Salas – a big no-no. Johnson was sitting back in zone reading Bradford’s eyes the entire time. As imagined, he anticipated where Bradford was going with the ball and picked him clean. In addition to his nice night in coverage, Johnson added a sack and seven tackles, all in the first half.
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● Left-handed Tyler Palko and rookie signal caller Ricky Stanzi have been in an intense battle for the No. 2 quarterback job. Both players did a nice job of managing the game and picking their spots, but it was Stanzi that stood out. Even with poor blocking in front of him, he seemed calm, cool and collected and showed great range on his throws. He averaged 8.6 yards per attempt while leading Kansas City to their only touchdown of the night. Finishing with a QB rating of 109.5 and connecting on eight of 14 attempts for 121 yards can only help his chances of unseating Palko as the backup quarterback.
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● Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe the Chiefs’ first team offense. Jamal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Dexter McCluster saw five carries between them which resulted in a whopping 12 yards. To Charles’ credit he did have a nice touchdown run that was negated because of a hold at the line of scrimmage. Kansas City only averaged 2.9 yards per carry over the course of the game and finished with an awful 58 yards rushing on 20 carries. The disappointing play extended to wide-out Dwayne Bowe who was smothered by cornerback Bradley Fletcher. Bowe had one reception on four targets. He struggled to get separation off of the line where the Rams were playing bump-and-run coverage for most of the first half.
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St. Louis extended their preseason undefeated streak to three, while showing improvement in all facets of the game. If you’re St. Louis it has to be comforting to see your secondary play with a level of consistency, even if it is preseason. Kansas City needs to get their offensive line problems fixed quickly or it is going to be tough sledding for Matt Cassel and the gang. The Chiefs’ first-string offense has produced zero scoring drives this preseason, so it will be interesting to see if Todd Haley is tempted to play them longer than he normally might in the final preseason game next week. My guess is no.
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  • jakuvious

    I do disagree on one point here. Bowe didn’t have too much trouble getting separation so much as he had trouble holding onto the ball. By my count he had two drops, one of which was close to DPI also, but I won’t be THAT fan. Moeaki also dropped two I believe. That was a problem more than separation. Many of them were on good or key plays.

  • Tyson Langland

    You’re right Bowe did have a couple of drops, but on the close DPI, it is actually a new rule that you’re allowed to put your hand a defenders back, you just can’t impede their route or the direction there going. Not saying it was or wasn’t DPI, just pointing out the new rule.

    • jakuvious

      It wasn’t the hand on the back that I saw, it was the hand on his hip/stomach that to me, looked as though it was grasping jersey.