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AFC West Recap - Preseason Week 3


Welcome to the AFC West Recap blog. TLDR: KC and LA’s defenses struggled, while Denver and Oakland’s shined. Derwin James is actually good and Connor Cook is actually bad. The Kareem Hunt/Tyreek Hill combo looks scary as always, and Bradley Chubb/Von Miller combined for a sack!

chargersThe Chargers first team offense looked slow in LA’s 36-7 loss to the Saints. In fact, after their first and only TD, there isn’t a whole lot for them to take away from the game. Every drive after that resulted in a either a punt, turnover, or pick 6.

Philip Rivers went 5 for 7 with 29 yards, with two drives into the NO red zone. One resulted in a turnover on downs after a dinky throw to Mike Williams, and the other lead to a 5-yard rushing TD by Detrez Newsome.

Derek Watt is getting better and better at blocking thank GOD. Other than that, Austin Ekeler is proving himself yet again to be a reliable backup with some nice gains while starting in place of Melvin Gordon. The Chargers have seemed to always have 3 extremely competent backs at any given point for the last 15ish years. Remember they had LaDainian Tomlinson and Sproles with Michael Turner as a third stringer for 4 years going into his 1700 yard, 17 TD season in ’08? Christ. Anyway, that’s essentially the end of the offensive production for the game. Cardale Jones played for a bit, but had a groin injury that force him out early. Geno Smith went 7 for 11 with 45 yards with an awful pick-6. I mean terrible.

This was only a few plays after throwing a pick-6 that was negated by a penalty. Reminds you why he was so bad on the Jets. At this point, I’d say the backup QB job is still Smith’s to lose, and he’d have to play like absolute dogshit compared to Jones next week to change that. The bolts first team defense looked hot to start the game, with 17th overall pick Derwin James getting a sweet interception on the 3rd play of the game.

Hell yea! Other than that, the first and second unit defense weren’t great. They were *shockingly* bad against the run, and let backup QB Taysom Hill run all over them. They had one sack and 3 QB hits, which is just not going to cut it. This unit needs to get better against the run and fast. Joey Bosa was held out again, but Lynn said if it were a regular season game he would have played. LA wraps up the preseason at San Fran on Thursday.

KCThe team on a whole looked a bit unorganized in KC’s 27-20 loss to Chicago, especially in the first quarter. Two former Chiefs, Bears HC Matt Nagy and backup QB Chase Daniel, hung 198 yards and 2 TDs on the first team defense. This double move right here was NOT a good look for Orlando Scandrick.

Not great, Bob! David Amerson also got torched for a TD later on in the 2nd quarter. The defense as a unit also had no sacks on the night, and only a single QB hit. The good news, though, was that Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens both made their debuts on the year and looked great. I think it can be chalked up as simply a bad night. They also did get some pretty damn unfair treatment by the refs, including this “roughing the passer” call which was about as clean a sack as you can get.

The offense didn’t lose much of a step, with Tyreek Hill hauling in 8 receptions for 88 yards, and Patrick Mahomes going a very efficient 18/24 for 196 yards playing into the third quarter. No crazy highlight plays from Mahomes this game, but he did show some fast and precise decision making on this TD, immediately picking up the blitz and checking down to Kareem Hunt.

That’s the scariest thing about this Chief’s offense. You can’t cover all of Mahomes weapons, and there is not a LB alive who will be able to keep up with Hunt. Marcus Kemp also had a very preseason 55-yard TD late in the fourth where a Bears DB basically fell flat on his ass at Kemp’s stutter move. The Chiefs close out their preseason vs Green Bay at home on Thursday.

OaklandThis was a pretty boring, and sloppy (23 penalties combined on the day), game from an offensive standpoint, with both teams stuck in punt/field goal warfare until the 4th quarter of Oakland’s 13-6 win over Green Bay. The big thing to take away from this game is that the defensive front looks strong as all hell.

The game started off hot with Carr finding Cooper for 49 on their first play of the game.

The one thing I want to note about this throw is that his velocity looked like it’s been a bit affected by his back injury. Look at how badly Cooper has his guy beat and how much he has to adjust his speed and contort his body to make the catch.

Not good! It was still a far throw and not a big enough sample size for it to be a cause for concern yet, but when you have 3 of the best deep-ball receivers in the game on your roster you need do better than that. Carr later got sacked in the red zone when Donald Penn got bull-rushed into the earth’s crust. That was the end of the night for Carr, even though Gruden had said the starters would stay into the second quarter.

After that, Connor Cook and EJ Manuel came in and essentially fought over who wanted to get cut first, because neither of them should end up on the final roster. Cook had a terrible INT and a second that was returned for 6, but was called back for defensive holding. Manuel was better, going 8-12 including the game winning drive. However, he also refused to slide during a scramble, despite being surrounded, and gave up an awful fumble. The biggest takeaway from the offensive end was Chris Warren III looked sharp again, with 15 carries for 54 yards as well as the game winning touchdown which he bullied right down Green Bay’s gut.

The defense but on a way better show, with 5 sacks and 8 TFL total. That comes with the disclaimer that Green Bay played their backup offensive line the entire night, but the defensive front’s cohesion as a unit is looking outstanding. Mo Hurst combined with Arden Key for another sack, and Shilique Calhoun had one that was blindingly fast off the edge.

Apparently, part of the reason the front office is dragging their feet with Khalil Mack is because they expect big things out of Key. I’m not sure if anything I saw would validate that trust, and am still a sane human and believe Oaklands #1 priority should be to get Mack whatever he wants. They look to close out the preseason with a win over Seattle this Thursday. 

DenverCase Keenum looked damn good as he tore up Washington en route to their 29-17 win over the Redskins.More importantly than that, we got our first taste of Chubb/Miller as they combined for a sack in the second quarter.

If Keenum remains this sharp, the Broncos are going to give teams nightmares on both ends of the field. He was 12 for 18 with 148 yards, including this dime to rising stud Courtland Sutton.

Royce Freeman is continuing to impress! He showed some outstanding patience, waiting for a hole to open up before evading two tackles and breaking a third on the way to a 24 yard touchdown, his third in as many games. Emmanuel Sanders looked as fast as always, with 88 yards from scrimmage including this 27-yard end-around touchdown that almost any other receiver would have gotten maybe 15 yards on.

Swag Kelly came in to replace Keenum, and once more ensured Paxton Lynch’s pink slip. He went a crisp 7 for 11, setting up 3 of Brandon McManus’s 5 field goals on the night (Including an impressive 56 yarder). Lynch came in during the 4th and went 3 for 7 with a 5-yard rush, setting up their closing FG of the game. Is that good enough to get him traded? Probably not, but he’s still better than both of Oakland’s backups so far. usa-today-9098866.0The first-team defense looked hot yet again, and the unit finished the day with 3 sacks and 12 QB hits.  Shane Ray flew around the edge and maybe ended Colt McCoy’s life on one sack, and we finally got to see Miller and Chubb combine on another.

This defensive unit is going to be scary once they’re going full steam in week one. As an injury note, Shamarko Thomas hurt his eye and had to go to a local hospital for treatment on a possible detached retina. Brandon Marshall also went through concussion protocol, but was later cleared.

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