Preseason Game #3 – Vikings at Chiefs: Game Observations

The final preseason games had a lot at stake for some players attempting to crack a roster spot on a very talented Kansas City Chiefs team. Decisions will need to be made as August 31st is the date in which the current roster of 80 players will need to be cut to 53.

McKinnon vs Thompson and Fountain vs. Robinson are some roster battles that may have been decided in this game. Will the Chiefs keep four TEs? As Jody Fortson has proved, he deserves a place in the NFL. 5th round pick Cornell Powell has not seen a lot of targets and could be, oddly, on the bubble. Time to impress.

1st Half

  • Jerick McKinnon gets 3 of the first 4 plays seemingly suggesting he has an advantage over Darwin Thompson. Not so fast the second series Thompson provided a few flashes to make the possible decision that much harder. Could the Chiefs keep 4 running backs? Doesn’t seem likely with the battle for WR and TE leaning towards keep an extra player in at least one of those position groups.
  • It doesn’t seem necessary to add Patrick Mahomes to a game observation piece in the final preseason game, but wow. After last week’s game, where there were clearly timing issues, his snaps in the 1st quarter showed exactly why he is the best player in the NFL. His command of the offensive, understanding of the opposing defensives and the angles of his throws is second to none. 8/9 for 117 yards and 2 TDs in less than a quarter. As a Chiefs fan you can’t help but to be excited to get this season rolling and watch PM 15 do his thing.
  • It’s Arrowhead, that’s it. There’s no anagram before it, it’s just Arrowhead and I don’t care how much money those people paid.
  • The 1st team looked to be struggling early on the first series only to stiffen up in the red zone. No Chris Jones or Frank Clark will change the dynamic, but it was nice to see them not surrender a touchdown on the opening series. Willie Gay showed up with a big hit on the Viking’s Jake Bargas and L’Jarius Sneed pitched in to help, in back to back plays, holding Minnesota to a field goal. Red zone defense was a problem last season, this was a welcomed sight.
  • Demarcus Robinson seems to be a battle with Marcus Kemp and Daurice Fountain. If he is, he made a pretty decent statement in the 1st quarter. Fountain, although not all on him, needed to come up with one of his first three targets. His third target would have been a tough catch, but that’s how you make the roster. He would end up with a nice catch along the sideline for a first down, but when the competition is as tough as it is on this team, everyone catch helps and every drop doesn’t. Fountain would end the first half with 2 catches for 20 yards. Marcus Kemp came up big in both the passing game and special teams play which is exactly what he needed to do. Kemp ended the 1st half leading all receivers with 3 catches for 41 yards including a 23-yard touchdown on 3 and 15. He will make this roster, will Fountain?
  • L’Jarius Sneed continues to ball out, what a pick by Brett Veach, draft steal.
  • Did the Chiefs use a four TE set? Interesting.
  • No Chad Henne, which had Shane Buechele following up Mahomes with one-minute left in the 1st quarter. Buechele showed some poise against the 49ers, his start against the Vikings would not be as efficient. Shane didn’t do Fountain any favors after high throw followed by a throw behind as well as some other errant throws. Buechele would regain his composure later in the 2nd quarter. He took the Chiefs 88 yards in a well-orchestrated 2-minute drill for a touchdown on a beautiful pass between two safeties. He would end the first half 14/22 128 yards and 1 touchdown.
  • It was a bit of a surprise to see Byron Pringle in the game late in the 2nd quarter. His stock took a hit after a block in back negated a Mike Hughes punt return for a touchdown and dropped pass. I’m sure Hughes was not amused.

2nd Half

  • Armani Watts came up with the interception on the first series, too bad the Chiefs gave it right back on the first play on an option play where Buechele and Thompson were clearly not on the same page.
  • Deandre Baker can’t be instilling confidence in the coaching staff. After giving a big play at the end of the 2nd quarter, Baker took a bad angle and gave up a 32-yard touchdown run.
  • Cornell Powell finally sees his first target in the 3rd quarter, unfortunately, it was well overthrown. Buechele’s struggles will potentially cost some receivers an opportunity to make this roster. The offense as a whole struggled in the 2nd half. A fumble, penalties and an interception for a touchdown after an excellent goal line stand by the defense was a disappointment. Buechele appeared, at times, destined for a practice squad spot on an NFL team, tonight’s performance may have some questioning if that is the reality of his future.
  • Joshua Kaindoh had possibly his best performance of the preseason. Kaindoh had a hand in the goal line stand as well as being a disruption on several plays. He ended the contest credited for two tackles and a fumble recovery, which first appeared to be interception for the big man. That fumble recovery was courtesy of another dominate performance by Tim Ward. Defensive lineman Tyler Clark raised his stock, most likely as practice squad player or with another team after some big plays including a great effort on the goal line stand. Clark was credited with four tackles and two assists on the evening.
  • There are still some question marks on several players who did not have an opportunity to shine in the 2nd half. The battles at several positions did not take any leap forward in the case of players like Maurice Ffrench and Cornell Powell, did Darwin Thompson do enough enough to find a spot on the roster or was the first series showcase of Jerick McKinnon a sign? McKinnon did not see any snaps in the 2nd half where Thompson was in the game late.
  • Speaking of running backs Derrick Gore had a nice night and a solid preseason. It is unlikely the Chiefs will find a spot for him on the roster or the practice squad, but don’t be surprised if a team with a need at running back go after Gore. He would finish the game with 6 carries for 26 yards and 5 catches for 80 yards and a receiving touchdown.
  • Devon Key remains a work in progress, I question if Juan Thornhill and Armani Watts are the future at the safety position for the Chiefs. The fact that neither has truly unseated Dan Sorensen leaves a question mark at the position. It is time to pay the Honey Badger. There were some additional defensive players on the bubble didn’t seem to move the needle either way in the 2nd half against the Vikings. BoPete Keyes, Deandre Baker and Devon Key didn’t have the impact plays that catch a coach’s eye during this final opportunity to impress. Dicaprio Bootle, who is credit with three tackles and two assists, seems like he might have earned a practice squad spot as a developmental player.
  • Jody Fortson, who remains a fan favorite, came on late in the game with some big catches. He ended the night with 2 catches for 22 yards. Noah Gray got some targets and will certainly be rounding out the TE room finishing with 2 catches for 24 yards.
  • The wide receiver positions remains a big question mark with one or two quality players on the bubble. Along with Fortson, Daurice Fountain seems to be a fan favorite, although probably not the night he had envisioned to solidify a spot on the roster. Still, chatting up PM 15 on the sideline late in game wasn’t a bad idea. Fountain would end the game with 3 catches for 26 yards, although some better throws from Buechele would have gone a long way to some better numbers. This is a player who, I believe, the Chiefs will find a practice squad spot for, if he clears waivers. Not unlike last week, this game was noticably void of the type of splash plays that can really stand out was coaches review film.
  • Decisions, decisions are what the Chiefs brain trust will have to make prior to Tuesday’s cut down deadline. For many players, tonight’s game will end their NFL dreams, but with the Chiefs roster loaded with talent, some of these players will find an opportunity elsewhere as other NFL teams are waiting to try to grab some of these players off waivers.

The Chiefs are in a good, albeit, a difficult position as they review game tape over the next 72 plus hours. Some quality players will not make this roster and some players the Chiefs are hoping to stash on the practice squad will get poached. These are the kind of problems good teams with deep rosters have, lets enjoy the moment. The preseason ends with no notable injuries that will affect week #1, so it is time to get ready for a Browns team that wants nothing more than to prove themselves and get revenge. Next up, the start of the 2021 Take It Back Tour. Go Chiefs!