Former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith and former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid had successful starts to their respective new chapters as Kansas City Chiefs. Although the Chiefs eventually lost to the New Orleans Saints 13-17, the Chiefs jumped out to an early 10 to nothing lead, and looked impressive in the opening quarter, when both teams starting player were in. Although disappointed to not get the win, the Chiefs newbies can be happy with the performance of the first stringers, and the especially impressive play of new QB Alex Smith.
Smith, who only played one series, was 7 for 8 with 68 yards during the Chiefs 14 paly, opening, touchdown drive. He looked calm and poised, as he deciphered the Saints defense, and distributed passes to all the different positions. Twice converting on third down attempts with completions to Charles and Fassano, Smith seemed to pick up where he left off least season, when he had a 70% completion rate before getting injured and being replaced. His one incompletion came on a second down in the red-zone when he made the good decision to throw the ball away after good coverage by New Orleans. It’s only pre-season, and the Saints are not known for their defense, but it would be hard to top the opening glimpse of Smith and the 2013 Chiefs.
Despite speculation that Jamaal Charles would not get as many opportunities in Reid’s west coast style offense, the Chiefs first play was a screen pass to Charles, who also looked sharp in his first game in Reid’s new system. He had five carries, including a one-yard TD run on the opening drive. Add three receptions to that, and it appears Charles will be able to get the ball in open space more often, and presumably prosper the way former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook did for years under Coach Reid.
The Chiefs defense was solid holding Drew Brees and New Orleans 1st team offense to just a field goal in two possessions. On their first series against Kansas City’s defensive starters, the Saints were forced to punt after just one first down. Brees, who finished 7 of 10 with 65 yards, led the team down the field quite easily on the second drive until stalling in the red zone and settling for a short 3 points. However, by that time, most of the second team defense was playing for Kansas City.
In a true team effort, the Chiefs special teams also impressed benefitting from two long returns and two field goals. The first return came from the Saints opening punt, when Dexter McCluster took it 55 yards and set up kicker Ryan Succops first field goal from 42 yards out. Rookie Knile Davis was responsible for the second notable return, taking a 3rd quarter kick off 79 yards before getting shoved out of bounds. The return led to Succops second field goal of 32 yards.
Reid, who stressed before the game that winning was important in any competitive endeavor, looked just as comfortable as Smith did in the first glimpse of the new look Chiefs. Despite the loss, his first teams performance was impressive, and all indications are that he is feeling as refreshed as has been reported. That feeling seems to be reverberating through the team, and after several losing seasons, it’s easy to see why people in KC are excited. Meanwhile, Reid can feel even better about his exit from Philly after his old team got seriously bullied in their opener against New England. It’s not reasonable to have wild expectations after one preseason game; however, it was a very encouraging start for the Chiefs on Friday night.
Written By: Cole Leslie