GREEN BAY, WI – Ready or not, the real thing is about to begin.
Using Lambeau Field’s regular season-like atmosphere as the backdrop for a dress rehearsal, the Chiefs didn’t hold anything back in Thursday night’s preseason finale. A fake punt, an onside kick and a load of starters playing well into the fourth quarter were all part of Todd Haley’s recipe.
“I told all of the guys three weeks ago to plan to play the whole thing in this game, that way they wouldn’t be disappointed one way or the other,” Haley said following the Chiefs 20-19 loss in Green Bay.
The majority of Kansas City’s core players – those assured of a roster spot when Saturday’s cut down to 53 arrives – played nearly an entire game and some of the final stat lines read much like they would in the regular season.
Most of the Chiefs front-line players had been used sparingly throughout the preseason.
“Before tonight I probably only played for a quarter this preseason and it felt good playing a whole game,” said CB
Part of that extended playtime saw a number of Chiefs go on and off the field because of various injuries.
“He wanted to go back in,” Haley said of Cassel. “I think the prudent thing was to be smart there, but I thought he played real well while he was in there for the most part.”
Cassel finished the evening 15-of-17 for 129 yards with a touchdown. Over the first three preseason games, the Pro Bowl quarterback had completed less than 50% of his passes and carried a 59.5 passer rating.
“All in all, I think we moved the ball pretty effectively and we need to continue to do that,” Cassel said.
Physically, the Chiefs say they’re ready for the regular season after Thursday’s extended action. From an efficiency standpoint, there’s still plenty of work to be done before next Sunday’s regular season opener.
Penalties and turnovers – two critical areas where the Chiefs thrived a year ago –both proved crushing in the 20-19 loss. The Chiefs were flagged eight times for 67 yards and turned the football over five times.
“That’s been a reoccurring theme throughout this preseason,” said QB Matt Cassel. “It’s something that we must address as we go into the regular season.”
All of the Green Bay’s second half points came following back-to-back-to-back Kansas City turnovers that occurred over a five-snap span.
Prior to the giveaways, the Chiefs held a 16-7 third quarter advantage and were driving when Charles coughed up the football in the red zone for the second time of the evening. A fumbled exchange between
Dominating the stat book with 405 total yards to Green Bay’s 122 and 23 first downs to the Packers’ eight, the offensive miscues were no doubt the difference between winning and losing.
“We can’t turn the football over and we’ve done it too much here,” Haley said. “We’ve done it practice a few times (also) and that’s troubling. That might be reflect a little bit on how we had to start this training camp, not being in pads, and having the ball security things.”
The Chiefs put the football on the ground 10 times this preseason.
“We’ve talked as a staff about having to catch-up on the back end and make sure we’re doing enough ball security and we obviously haven’t done enough,” Haley added.
Despite the end result, it was of unanimous opinion inside the Chiefs locker room that the team got plenty out of its trip to football’s Smithsonian Institution.
Thursday’s approach was far different than any we’ve seen from a fourth preseason game, but so was almost all of training camp.
“We felt that tonight was a really good opportunity for us to go out, play a lot, and see who we are,” Jones said.
And just who are the 2011 Chiefs?
“We’ll see,” Cassel said. “Everything obviously starts for real next week and none of these preseason stats matter at all. Everybody starts with a 0-0 record and we’ll get it going vs. Buffalo.”