Aug 17, 2014; Charlotte, NC; Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) calls out a signal against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The bitter taste from Sunday night’s 28-16 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers apparently lingered into Monday.
The Chiefs’ sluggish performance resulted in 13 penalties for 131 yards.
“Penalties were a significant issue,” Reid said during a Monday afternoon media conference call. “We had five offensively and two defensively and that broke down offensively with two holding calls, a false start and an offensive pass interference, which were big plays in a couple cases there and likewise with the defensive penalties – the 36-yard gain. We’ve got to do a better job in that area.”
Yellow flags aside, arguably a larger area of concern surrounded a first-team offensive line that allowed two sacks in the first half on quarterback Alex Smith.
The Chiefs starting offensive line also totaled three infractions. Second-year left tackle Eric Fisher and rookie right guard Zach Fulton were penalized for holding and third-year right tackle Donald Stephenson was guilty of a false start.
The Chiefs head coach found some good, however, and balanced it against the bad.
“Both our young tackles were going up against good players and I thought they held up for the most part,” Reid said. “There are some things fundamentally that I thought they‘ve got to do better, but they did some good things, they just weren’t consistent enough with it. So we will keep working that. Our right guard, likewise, there are some things he can learn from this.”
Nevertheless, Fisher, in particular, didn’t have a good first half against Carolina’s first-team defensive line.
Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy appeared to have his way against Fisher. But Reid wasn’t concerned over Fisher’s confidence heading into the third preseason week, pointing out Fisher is coming off an offseason shoulder injury.
The Chiefs took it easy on last year’s No. 1 overall pick during the offseason workouts and limited Fisher’s participation in one-on-one drills against defensive lineman until late into training camp.
“Anytime you’re coming off a significant injury,” Reid explained, “you have to continue to battle through and that’s what this preseason has been for him.”
Reid said Fisher looked good initially against the Panthers before fatigue set in.
“He started off like gangbusters,” Reid said, “and as that arm gets tired he has a tendency to not shoot it quite as fast as he would when it’s fresh. I’m not sure he’s even conscious of that.”
Reid compared Fisher’s recovery to players returning from knee injuries, indicating there’s a period of being comfortable on the field in live action.
And the cure for Fisher could surround getting the necessary repetitions leading to the regular season.
“The more you play,” Reid said, “the more you keep fundamentals, the more consistent you become. Eventually it will be for four quarters, and then you roll. He sure started off the game nice and towards the end of the second quarter, he was dragging that thing a little. He just has to keep it up and firing.”
Running back Jamaal Charles didn’t make the trip to Carolina due to a bruised foot, an ailment Reid categorized as a “freak” injury following the game.
Reid offered the particulars during Monday’s conference call.
“He was actually carrying a box down from the (Missouri Western State University) dorms,” Reid said. “He came down the grassy slope there and rolled his foot over on the curve. It was that simple and that was it.”
Reid said Charles informed head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder before the team held Charles back for precautionary measures.
The Chiefs also ran Charles through medical checks, and everything appeared fine.
“He is feeling better today,” Reid said. “We’re optimistic about it. Initially there was a little concern, but he had all the stuff done on it – the X-ray, the MRI’s and all that done on it. It was clear.”
Reid didn’t offer whether Charles would practice fully or be limited this week.
“We’ll get that to you,” Reid said.
GAME WEEK PREPARATION
The Chiefs have a short week to prepare for Saturday’s preseason contest against the Minnesota Vikings.
The first step is returning to the practice field Tuesday where the Chiefs will approach the coming days like a regular season game week, outside of full game-planning implementation.
“We’ll use our basic offense and defense,” Reid explained. “But the way the game plan part of it set up is different this week than last week because your Tuesday will be like a Wednesday in season, schedule wise, install-wise. Then Wednesday will be like a Thursday and Thursday will be like a Friday in season. We’ll get them used to that schedule where the walk-through is first before the practice, and then we’ll go from there. That’s how we’ll go about it.”
The Chiefs will meet a familiar face Saturday.
The Vikings named former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel as the starter, beat writer Matt Vensel of The Star-Tribune reports.
SCREEN GAME SPUTTERS
The screen game is a staple of Reid’s version of the West Coast offense dating back to his years as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
And the results can be deadly when working properly. For evidence, revisit how the Chiefs destroyed the Oakland Raiders in Week 15 last season.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs young offensive line experienced a hiccup last night. Rookie guard Zach Fulton appeared out of position and missed his assignment during a first-half play, .
“I thought our screen game needed to be better,” Reid said. “That has always been a plus for us and we were minus numbers on the screen game.
Addressing it now during preseason action appears a priority.
“We’ve got to do a better job of turning up field with the offensive linemen,” Reid said, “getting them going north and south and likewise with the backs and just get that in sync. We’re a step off there. If you’re a step off in the screen game, you’ve got problems and that’s what happened last night.”