KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs came home to a fun crowd for their second preseason game against the Washington Commanders.
In a 24-14 win, the starters got a few more reps than they did in the first game. Here are a few observations that were gained from those increased reps.
Offense is in midseason form
Patrick Mahomes and the offensive starters were on point in their two drives.
Mahomes was 12-19 for 162 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Jody Fortson. Fortson was emerging as a prime red zone option last season and is picking up right where he left off before his energy.
Mahomes made some of his fantastic throws including a few to wide receiver Justin Watson who saw increased reps along with rookie Skyy Moore in place of injured starters JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman.
There was also a healthy rotation of offensive weapons: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray and Jody Fortson at tight end, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon and Isaih Pacheco at running back and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Moore, Watson and Daurice Fountain at receiver.
While that rotation may not be as frequent in the regular season when players are healthy, it shows that Mahomes and the offense can roll without star players.
Defense may be a force this year
Linebackers Willie Gay and Nick Bolton are showing good progress so far in their young careers.
Bolton was a good run-stopper last season and is playing better in coverage so far this preseason. Gay established himself as a fast, quick-twitched coverage player and is getting better in run coverage as well.
The defensive line was without Chris Jones on Saturday. Tershawn Wharton stepped in as did Khalen Saunders. Both have had some up and down days in training camp but have played better as of late.
Saunders may have been on the roster bubble with the addition of Danny Shelton, but his recent play may have secured his spot, especially with a sack on the day.
The highlight of the defensive line was George Karlaftis fighting through a double team to get his second sack of the preseason. Coaches always say sacks are a motor play and Karlaftis is living up to that so far.
L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton made some plays in the secondary before Fenton left the game early with a groin injury. With rookie Joshua Williams taking reps with the first team before Fenton’s return, he may have to resume that role if Fenton is out for an extended time.
The Chiefs have the makings to be a pretty dominant defense under Steve Spagnuolo.
Special teams matter
An often forgotten phase of the game is very important to the people who play it.
Tommy Townsend punted four times with each kick landing inside the Washington 20-yard line. They also held the Commanders inside the 25 on kickoff returns as well.
Where special teams must improve is on returns.
Moore had a punt where he should have called for a fair catch, and almost got a big hit laid on him. The more he gets live reps, the more he and other young returners like Pacheco and corner Trent McDuffie will adjust.
While all things from the preseason must be taken with a grain of salt, so far the Chiefs are looking like seventh straight AFC West could be in the realistic expectations for this year.