2012 NFL Preseason: Kansas City Chiefs Regress in 31-17 Loss to St. Louis Rams

Derek EstesCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tackled by Chris Long #91 of the St. Louis Rams during a pre-season game at the Edward Jones Dome on August 18, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs looked stellar in their preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, which made their loss Saturday to the St. Louis Rams that much more disappointing.

Watching Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson pick apart the Chiefs defense in the first quarter felt like a bucket of cold water in the face, or witnessing a train wreck in slow motion. After only 11 plays from scrimmage, Kansas City trailed 14-0 in a virtual replay of last year's demoralizing season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Kendrick Lewis slamming his helmet to the ground on the sideline made the case of déjà vu complete. Lewis injured his shoulder in the game; it's unknown when he'll return to the lineup.

The one bright spot for Kansas City on Friday was what many considered to be their greatest weakness. Matt Cassel completed 72 percent of his passes against the Rams; he boasts a 114.76 quarterback rating in the preseason and appears very comfortable in new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's system.

Those numbers could get even better now that Dwayne Bowe finally signed his franchise tag tender. As long as Bowe's kept himself in shape, he should be fully ready to play when Kansas City opens its season against Atlanta next month.

But will the rest of the team be ready?. As evidenced in St. Louis, the Chiefs can't afford to have their defense not show up on game day. Better than 20 percent of Bradford's throws went for touchdowns, while Jackson averaged seven yards per carry. The coverage teams played soft and didn't rush to engage the ball-carrier.

That inconsistency is the heart of Kansas City's playoff win drought, which is fast approaching the 20-year mark. Until the Chiefs can be certain which team is going to show up on game day, they'll continue riding with the middle of the pack—good enough to compete for a playoff berth but unlikely to do much else.