KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs fell to the Houston Texans 17-10 in Thursday night's preseason opener, but head coach Andy Reid still got what he wanted from the experience as the club heads back to St. Joseph, Mo., to finish training camp.
“I think this tape will be good for these guys to take a look and see,” Reid said. “There's a lot of things we can learn. There's a lot of good things the can pick up on but there's some fundamental things that we need to clean up.”
Patrick Mahomes can play better
Mahomes spent many of his nine snaps on the field escaping pressure, but Reid felt his young quarterback fared well in his initial outing of the preseason.
“He had the one overthrow that he had to (Travis) Kelce on the corner route,” Reid said. “Other than that I thought his eyes were good, they were in the right place, he stepped up in the pocket when needed too, made a couple of nice throws.”
That one missed throw came on the final play for the first-team offense. Mahomes had pressure in his face that kept him from completely stepping into the ball, which sailed over the head of Kelce.
Mahomes finished his night 5-of-7 passing for 33 yards but the real story was the pressure he faced from the Texans defense.
“There was probably one hiccup in there and then the rest of it he had pressure. He moved around or he completed the ball. First play of the game he got hit by two guys, made a great throw to Kelce and so on. I thought for the number of plays he had he did okay. He can do better, we can call do better.”
Young defenders earn praise
The Chiefs mixed in edge rushers Breeland Speaks and Tanoh Kpassagnon with the first-team defense on the second drive of the game for the Texans, and both saw substantial playing time with 34 and 31 defensive snaps respectively.
Reid said Speaks played with power and set the point well.
“There will be some things he can learn off of some of his pass rushes about the depth and all of that,” Reid said. “But he did overall, I thought he was very physical and played a pretty solid game.”
Kpassagnon picked up one of the defense's three quarterback hits and came close to breaking up the play on a couple of other rushes. Reid sees a more refined player than the rookie who made the move to outside linebacker during training camp last season.
“I thought he made good pressure, he was close on a couple, right there making a play, hit the quarterback on one third-down blitz play that we had and he was close on a couple of other ones,” Reid said. “Again I thought he played physical at the point which is good.”
Reid also recognized sixth-round pick Tremon Smith who contributed at both cornerback and the return game. He picked up three tackles and averaged 29.5 yards on two kickoff returns.
“He was in great position to make plays,” Reid said. “He has tremendous ability and really showed some good coverage stuff. And then his return game, I thought he was very solid in his return game, he almost popped one.”
Pass protection needs work
Reid was blunt in his assessment of the offensive line and the team's pass protection against the Texans.
“I think we need to do a better job there,” Reid said. “I wasn't real happy with that. We got to do better.”
The game marked the return of center Mitch Morse to game action for the first time since January. Cameron Erving also started his first game at left guard for the Chiefs.
Parker Ehinger played right tackle with the second-team offensive line as the club remains on the hunt for a backup swing tackle. Ehinger has played right tackle and left guard in camp, while Erving has played four different positions along the line.
“We need to be able to find who's going to be that third tackle particularly with Cam working at the guard position,” Reid said. “Let's just see who that third tackle is. We think have some flexibility with him and also with Cam.”
Defense shows toughness
The Chiefs placed a premium on toughness and aggression during its offseason defensive makeover in an effort to punch up a porous run defense from last season. The Texans rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries for a 4.6 average.
Those numbers are eerily similar to what the Chiefs allowed on average last season – 118 yards per game and a 4.3-yard average. But Reid still looked what he saw in the preseason opener.
“I thought the effort and toughness was good,” Reid said. “We had a lot of young football players out there. I thought it was just good work for them. They can learn from this.”
The first-team defense played without expected starters Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland at linebacker and Eric Berry at safety. The team also expects to remain without safety Daniel Sorensen into the beginning of the season. Reid said aside from Sorensen, most of the players who did not suit up against the Texans would have played in a regular season game.
“Yes, they probably would have,” Reid said.
Reid would have gone for two
What if quarterback Chase Litton nearly hooked up with tight end Alex Ellis for a touchdown on the team's final offensive play that could have pulled the Chiefs within 17-16.
But no one needed to fear a 10-minute overtime period with the Chiefs tying the game.
“I would have gone for two, yes,” Reid said.