COMMENTARY | After an eventful offseason that saw major changes across the board, the Kansas City Chiefs begin their 2013 preseason slate with a trip to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints on Friday night.
From the top of the front office all the way down to the little-known players who are only at training camp to fill the depth chart, Kansas City's facelift to rid the stench of last season's 2-14 showing will finally be thrust into the spotlight.
While the first preseason game comes with a much different approach than Week 1's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, it could be said that it holds a similar importance to the Chiefs' plans this season.
Here are four things to monitor this week:
Andy Reid Makes His Debut With Chiefs
While Andy Reid is no stranger to the NFL sidelines, his transition to a new team after spending 14 seasons as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles will certainly be under the microscope.
Reid was one of the more successful head coaches in the league during his time in Philly, having tallied 130 wins, five conference championship appearances and making it to the Super Bowl following the 2004 season. His last two years with the Eagles, however, are what wore his welcome thin in The City of Brotherly Love.
Personal issues aside, Reid did little with a roster that was considered to be as talented as any in the entire NFL. Though the Chiefs finished in the basement last season, the pieces are there for the new head coach to once again thrive.
It will be interesting to see how Reid's tenure in Kansas City starts off.
How Will Alex Smith Look in the First Quarter?
Kansas City has come out and said that the starting offense will play the entire first quarter, giving an extended glimpse at Alex Smith and how he jells with his new teammates. Though it is just as important how the rest of the unit looks, Smith's performance will be heavily scrutinized.
The Chiefs unloaded two second-round draft picks for Smith, who spent his first seven years under center for the San Francisco 49ers. While the pressures of being a former No. 1 overall pick have all but vanished, new questions surround the quarterback as to just how he will adjust without being able to lean on Jim Harbaugh.
In the two seasons with Harbaugh as his head coach, Smith finally appeared to turn the corner. The quarterback was 19-5-1 over that stretch, while leading the 49ers to the NFC championship game following the 2011 season.
Though a concussion derailed his 2012 campaign -- as Colin Kaepernick took over the starting job and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl -- Smith was on pace for career highs in passing touchdowns and yards, completion percentage and quarterback rating.
The failures of the Chiefs last season can largely be blamed on their lack of production from the quarterback position, as Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn threw for just 2,937 yards and eight touchdowns -- not to mention their 28 combined turnovers.
If Smith can come in and be close to what he was the last two seasons in San Francisco, Kansas City will be pleased with its investment.
Eric Fisher's Transition to Right Tackle
After being taken with the top pick in April's draft, Eric Fisher will finally get a break from the monotonous action at training camp and receive his first taste of live NFL game action.
Kansas City's offseason pointed to the organization using the No. 1 overall pick on a franchise left tackle. While Fisher may eventually be viewed as such, the Central Michigan product will instead man the right side opposite of veteran Branden Albert -- who is playing the 2013 season under the franchise tag.
As Fisher acclimates to the new position -- which requires the reversal of his footwork and the use of his upper body, and will entail more balance in his passing and run blocking -- it will be his development that could help facilitate the decision of Albert's future as a Chief.
If Fisher is able to engage the defender early in the progression, it means that he is getting the hang of the technique and is comfortable with the position switch. If he seems to hesitate or is slow to the point of attack, he still has a ways to go.
Aggressiveness on Defense
The Chiefs spent a great deal of their offseason focusing on the defensive side of the ball, in particular bolstering a secondary that, according to cornerback Brandon Flowers, has the chance to be the best in the entire league.
The additions of corners Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, along with the returning Flowers and Eric Berry (now two years removed from ACL injury), certainly are a cause for much greater optimism out of a unit that allowed 29 touchdowns through the air last season.
But while the outside and third-level contain have seemingly improved, the new-look secondary could have a more resounding impact on what is done at the point of attack for Kansas City's defense. Better coverage downfield will create more opportunities for the Chiefs to disrupt the opposing quarterback and running game, with Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe the likely beneficiaries.
Kansas City finished with only 27 sacks last season, which tied for the third-worst total in the NFL. The fact that 19 of those came from Hali and Houston means that there weren't enough players on the defensive side of the ball doing their job. The Chiefs also allowed a sixth-worst 135.7 rushing yards per game.
The improved secondary, the ascent of Hali and Houston as one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league and the continued development of Poe should all factor in to the Chiefs possessing a much improved and more balanced defense in 2013. New Orleans should provide a stern test for the first unit in the preseason opener.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country.Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Alex Smith
- New Orleans Saints
- Andy Reid
- Eric Fisher