All week long Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches alike said preparation for Saturday’s preseason game against the Chicago Bears served as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, and if that’s the case the team is definitely ready for its opening show.
The Chiefs (1-2) dominated in a 23-7 victory, smothering the Bears (0-3) on both sides of the ball and addressing some of the biggest concerns arising from the first two preseason games, particularly the team’s run defense.
Quarterback Alex Smith and the first-team offense picked up where they left off a week ago against Los Angeles, putting together a 13-0 halftime lead with Smith completing 20-30 passing for 181 yards and a touchdown.
But the Chiefs defense led the way early for once, and continued the domination throughout.
Head coach Andy Reid stressed the need for the defense to start games more quickly.
“I thought the front seven did a good job,” Reid said during his postgame press conference. “I thought the line and the linebackers were flying around right from the start.”
Linebacker Derrick Johnson helped set the tone early for a defense determined to start fast and play with speed. He said the defense emphasized the need to stop the run from the first play of the game.
“We started fast and that was our whole motto for the day: starting fast,” Johnson said during the team’s television broadcast. “We hadn’t started as fast in the last two games. My hat is off to the entire defensive line. It’s a complete team effort when everyone does well on the defensive side of the ball.”
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe agreed.
“We had a few things we wanted to tighten up from the last couple weeks,” Poe said during the broadcast. “We just wanted to come out and play solid team defense and I feel like we did it.”
The Chiefs allowed an average of 55 yards rushing in the first quarter of their first two preseason games and an average of 125 yards per game.
Chicago mustered just 59 yards rushing the entire game along with 164 yards passing, much of that coming in the second half long after the first-team defense departed.
Poe believes the team’s defensive can be special.
“I feel like we can be the best we’ve ever been since I’ve been here,” Poe said. “I feel like if we keep pushing we’ll be right where we want to be.”
Reid announced after the game the team acquired cornerback Kenneth Acker from the San Francisco 49ers in exchanged for an undisclosed draft pick. The 49ers selected Acker in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He spent the 2014 season on injured reserve and started 13 games last season with three interceptions and 65 tackles.
“He should be a nice addition,” Reid said.
The Chiefs appear comfortable with their front seven on defense, but the acquisition of Acker and imminent return of safety Eric Berry shows the secondary remains a work in progress.
Cornerback Phillip Gaines played for the first time this preseason, but the Chiefs have not settled on a starter at corner opposite Marcus Peters. It’s also unclear if Berry will be ready for the season opener Sept. 11 against San Diego.
The Chiefs face a quick five days to sort out their secondary quandary upon their to Kansas City. The team must pare down its roster from 89 players to 75 before 3 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the final preseason game at 7 p.m. Thursday against Green Bay at Arrowhead Stadium.
The team must finalize its 53-player roster before 3 p.m. Sept. 3.