Here are my insights into the Chiefs’ third and final preseason game of 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up their 2023 preseason campaign on a Saturday afternoon clash with the Cleveland Browns. The game showcased a diverse range of plays and strategies, leaving fans with much to discuss.
In the initial quarter, the Chiefs found themselves trailing significantly with a score of 22-3. The first half didn’t offer much reprieve either, with the Browns maintaining a lead of 29-16. The Chiefs’ own errors contributed to this score deficit. However, the team, under the guidance of coach Andy Reid, emerged from the halftime break with a strong determination to overturn the situation. Their efforts were evident in a remarkable third-quarter comeback that enabled them to surge ahead with a score of 30-29. This turnaround demonstrated the reigning Super Bowl champions’ resilience and spirit.
The Browns countered with a crucial fourth-quarter field goal, regaining the lead. However, their advantage was short-lived as the Chiefs, determined not to let victory slip away, held their ground until the last moments. Cleveland’s drive deep into Kansas City territory led to a field goal attempt, which they missed from 43 yards out with less than a minute remaining. This miss sealed the Chiefs’ victory, marking their second win of the preseason and securing a final record of 2-1.
Here, I present four key takeaways from the game:
- Justyn Ross’s Solid Performance Cements His Roster Spot The preseason buzz around wide receiver Justyn Ross was well-founded. The anticipation built from his impressive off-season performances and early training camp showings. Ross, a former standout from Clemson University, didn’t disappoint. During the game against the Browns, he caught two passes for a total of 12 yards in the first half. His standout moment arrived with a remarkable touchdown catch at the left end zone, showcasing his separation skills. Ross’s consistent ability to create space, even when not targeted, highlighted his potential. His contributions extended to special teams, where he played a role in kickoff and kickoff return coverage. As roster cuts loom, Ross’s name is likely to stand out as a confirmed addition to the final roster.
- La’Mical Perine Emerges as a Promising Prospect The Chiefs turned heads when they signed undrafted free agent Deneric Prince, a former Tulsa running back. However, it was 25-year-old La’Mical Perine who made the most of the preseason opportunities. Displaying burst and toughness, Perine showcased his potential with an impressive performance. In the first half against the Browns, he carried the ball four times for 32 yards and caught three passes for 44 yards, including a dynamic 20-yard touchdown that showcased his elusiveness. With a potential four-running-back strategy for the regular season, Perine appears to be in prime position to secure the final halfback spot.
- Backup Quarterback Competition Reaches a Pinnacle Historically, Patrick Mahomes has had a seasoned backup behind him. While Blaine Gabbert was the anticipated choice, Shane Buechele emerged as a genuine contender for the position during this preseason. Reid himself acknowledged this competition earlier. While both Gabbert and Buechele are expected to make the initial 53-man roster, Saturday’s game seemed to highlight a distinction. Buechele’s performance in the game was mixed, with eight completions out of 17 attempts and two interceptions. Gabbert, on the other hand, demonstrated better decision-making and posted a passer rating of 101.4, including two touchdowns. Gabbert’s experience and performance might have secured his role as the primary backup, even with Buechele’s efforts.
- Crucial Decisions Await Chiefs Staff and Players Preseason holds significance for everyone involved, even seasoned players like Mahomes. It serves as a platform for players, coaches, and management to fine-tune strategies ahead of the regular season. Those on the fringe of roster contention face a critical few weeks. With all three preseason games concluded, Coach Reid and his team, in collaboration with General Manager Brett Veach, must finalize the roster for the upcoming season opener against the Detroit Lions. The NFL’s mandatory roster cutdown deadline adds urgency, with decisions on the 53-player roster and a 16-player practice squad looming by Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. This phase of decision-making could prove even more demanding than the actual games.
In summation, the Chiefs’ third preseason game of 2023 was a dynamic encounter that showcased both strengths and areas for improvement. The performances of key players and the competition for roster spots added intrigue to an already captivating event. The final roster decisions will undoubtedly shape the team’s journey into the regular season and hold significant implications for players and fans alike.