Preseason football being the odd beast it is, it’s difficult to know what to expect from the Kansas City Chiefs offensively on Thursday night when they play their first practice game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, like all teams, will greatly scale back their playbook and utilize a basic set of plays.
Things can get squeezed to the point where the Chiefs hardly resemble the offense they’ve been at training camp.
“It’s different,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “You come out to practice and you’ve got the full playbook and you’ve got all this different stuff you’re practicing. The first preseason game it’s always going to get [cut] back a little bit. That’s to be expected because you want the focus to be on execution. You want guys to play fast. We’ve got younger guys. We’ve got new guys. You want guys to go out there and be comfortable with what’s called.’’
If the preseason opener from last year, Andy Reid’s first as Kansas City's head coach, is instructive, the starting offense will do well. The Chiefs were in New Orleans to play the Saints. They took the ball at their 20 after the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 14 plays. Smith completed 7 of 8 pass attempts for 68 yards, the Chiefs converted twice on third down and Jamaal Charles scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Smith and the rest of the offensive starters were then finished for the night.
That kind of offensive efficiency doesn’t happen all the time in exhibition games. In last year’s second preseason game, against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead, Smith completed fewer than half of his passes, was sacked three times and the starting offense didn’t score a touchdown.
So look for either end of the success spectrum against the Bengals or anything in between.
“You’re not game-planning for any of this stuff,’’ Smith said. “You’re going out and playing. You’re not sure what they’re going to show and they’re not sure what you’re showing. When you strap the pads on and put the jersey on you expect to go out there play well ... and to win.’’