The Kansas City Chiefs will make their 2022 Arrowhead debut in week two of the NFL preseason as they welcome the Washington Commanders. What should you be watching for in game two?
As NFL fans adjust to the three-game preseason schedule the league introduced last year, it is essential to know that this is the most important of the three games. NFL teams treat this game the way they used to treat the third preseason game. Most team starters will play deep into the second quarter, if not through halftime. What should you watch for in Saturday’s game?
Chiefs Hope To Avoid Injuries In Preseason Game Two
With starters playing so much, the most important thing to watch for in this game is injuries. The Chiefs have already had injury problems this week leading up to the game. Juju Smith-Schuster, Chris Jones, and Mecole Hardman all missed practices this week due to injury. According to the team, none of them are serious injuries, but they don’t want any kind of injuries heading into the regular season.
We are still waiting to hear the severity of Blake Bell’s injury from preseason game one. All we’ve heard is a hip injury that is not major, but we don’t know for sure. Players can get hurt on any play, so the more plays they are on the field the more chances of getting hurt. I don’t want anyone playing scared, and the starters need to see the field to get ready for week one. But all of Chiefs Kingdom will be holding our breath on every play to make sure everyone makes it off the field with no issues.
Chiefs Offensive Scheme Will Be Worth Watching In Game Two
The next thing fans should be looking for is what kind of offense the Chiefs’ first team runs. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus noted on Twitter that KC was in 11 personnel 67.6% of the time last year. Against the Chicago Bears last week they employed 12/21 personnel on 8 of 11 snaps. It is easy to chalk that up to vanilla preseason game one play call, but many are curious if it could be a new trend the Chiefs offense uses minus Tyreek Hill.
KC was 11 personnel 67.6% of the time in 2021. Ran 12/21 on 8 of 11 preseason snaps with the starters. FWIW FB Michael Burton was PFF's best-graded FB last season, so not a bad option to increase playing time. — Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) August 18, 2022
For those who don’t know what those personnel numbers mean let me explain. The two numbers designate the number of running backs and tight ends in the formation. The first number is the number of running backs and the second is the number of tight ends. These formations are considered more conservative than the Chiefs have been accustomed to with Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback.
I tend to believe this is more of Andy Reid being conservative in the preseason than how the Chiefs will truly attack opposing defenses in 2022. Reid loves to be creative and open up the offense with such amazing talent at the quarterback position. Mahomes loves to sling the ball around and control the game with the ball in his hands. So I don’t see them turning back into the Alex Smith offense we saw for the first five years of Reid’s time in KC.
I do expect them to be in 12/21 more than they were in 2021, but just a couple more plays a game, not some big philosophical shift in the offense. But if they run 12/21 personnel on 70% of snaps again in game two, it could be time to adjust that thinking.
Chiefs Wide Receivers Are (Still) Important To Watch In Game Two
The third thing I will be zoned in on against the Commanders is the wide receivers. It is expected that Juju and Hardman will miss the games due to their injuries this week. Nothing to be worried about, but better safe than sorry with three weeks to go before the regular season. This means the depth of the Chiefs’ wide receiver room will get a good audition with the first-team offense.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore will get looks as the two starters on the field together. It will be interesting to see who can get the most separation and who Mahomes looks to most. I think Moore has a lot of promise and he’ll get a long look with Mahomes that could go a long way to see how many looks he gets early in the regular season.
Behind them, there is a competition going for the fifth and possibly sixth receiver roster spot. Reid usually has six on the roster and there are four contenders for those final two spots. Justin Watson, Daurice Fountain, Josh Gordon, and Cornell Powell are those four players battling for the final two spots. Watson is leading in the clubhouse after a strong showing against the Bears. He caught five balls on six targets for 45 yards and a touchdown, all-team highs. Watson also added three tackles on special teams.
Fountain caught three balls on three targets for 24 yards while Powell caught three balls on four targets for 10 yards. Gordon had a poor game, having zero catches on three targets. Going by game one it is safe to say that Watson is a lock for one of those two final spots. That leaves three players for one remaining roster spot.
It seems as if Gordon is out, as he just hasn’t looked good all camp. A strong game against the Commanders could give him a bump. The team is a big fan of Gordon so a big game would definitely put him back in the running. He’s still behind the eight ball as he doesn’t play special teams and the sixth wide receiver spot is normally reserved for a special teamer. Fountain played special teams last year for the Chiefs so his knowledge of Dave Toub’s system gives him an edge from the jump. Putting up numbers in the receiving game against the Bears helped his cause.
Powell was a fifth-round draft pick in 2021 so you know the team wants him to succeed. But he has some catching up to do after spending last season on the practice squad behind Fountain. All three of them could see their chances jump dramatically with a big game Saturday considering the amount of playing time they should see with Smith-Schuster and Hardman out. I am ready to see who rises to the challenge from these guys and see who folds under the pressure.
Those are the three big things I am watching for Saturday. There are lots of other things to watch but those are my big three. What are you going to be really watching for on Saturday? Comment on this article or find Chiefs Edge on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you are watching for!
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