After repeatedly watching the highlights of the Chiefs’ first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, I was really only able to draw one conclusion – other than how great Patrick Mahomes remains – and that is:
Why does anyone need four preseason games?
The Chiefs’ rebuilt defense opened the game against veteran quarterback Andy Dalton and had seemingly recovered a fumble from wide receiver Tyler Boyd on the first set of downs. Tyrann Mathieu picked up the loose ball and danced toward the right sideline before heading out of bounds. It seemed like a big boost for a defensive unit that would bring the reigning league MVP onto the field, but instant replay stepped in to flex its muscles.
The officials in New York ruled Boyd had not gone through the “football action” of completing the catch before fumbling the ball therefore the pass was ruled incomplete. From there the Bengals prolonged their drive, scored a touchdown and severely cut into Mahomes’ prescribed one quarter of playing time.
Mahomes showed no sign of regression on the Chiefs’ first offensive play from scrimmage, dropping a 30-yard strike into Travis Kelce’s outstretched hands. He attempted four passes and completed them all on his only drive. The Chiefs scored on the ground quickly after Mahomes scrambled to the goal line but slid to avoid a hit.
That’s really all we saw of the starters and that’s fine because they looked great. But is this what we are going to do for three more weeks? Mahomes and company will probably only play a quarter again this week in Pittsburgh and in Week 3 against San Francisco before likely sitting out the entire final game at Green Bay.
So what’s the point of four games if the best players are playing five or six series over a month?
The only reason I can think the Chiefs need all four of these games is that their defense is still adjusting to the new system. It’s too early to draw conclusions from the starting defense’s debut as they would have got off the field early if not for a strange replay decision. What’s worth noting is how natural – and somewhat Eric Berry-like – Mathieu looked carrying the recovered fumble that was reversed.
There’s no reason to worry about Andy Dalton carving up the secondary after the fumble was overturned as the defense wasn’t trying to stop the slants and underneath routes the Bengals consistently ran. I’m confident the secondary will be on the same wavelength this week against the Steelers.
I get that the preseason is for players to get in gear for regular-season competition and for coaches to evaluate players for their final roster but the process needs to be expedited if the league ever wants to add games to the regular season.
The 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, recently questioned the reasoning behind playing four preseason games and suggested shortening the exhibition to two games. Many players and coaches have spoken out in the past in favor of reducing the preseason in order to add more regular-season games.
Either way, I’m itching for regular season football and to see Patrick Mahomes play full football games. Hopefully, the NFL will take a better look at the pros and cons of shortening the preseason next year instead of revising the silly rules around what a catch is.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org