KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last time the Kansas City Chiefs won a preseason game, their coach was Herm Edwards and their president was George W. Bush.
The Chiefs are, in fact, the only team in the NFL without a single preseason win since 2008. A loss on Thursday night to Green Bay will have them dragging an 0-4 exhibition mark into the regular season for the second straight year — not exactly a confidence-builder for a franchise trying to gain traction after winning a paltry 10 regular-season games the past three seasons.
Nevertheless, second-year coach Todd Haley said he plans to stick to his long-range plan and take a good, long look at plenty of players in the final tuneup game before the Sept. 13 season opener against San Diego.
“If we were 3-0 in the preseason right now, I would probably be up here saying, ‘These games don’t matter. We’re 3-0. This doesn’t mean anything,’” Haley said Sunday. “And I’m still saying Sept. 13 is what’s going to count.”
The Chiefs dropped to 0-7 in exhibition games under Haley with a 20-17 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night, though it was somewhat encouraging. After a dreadful start that put them in a 10-0 hole, the Chiefs starters actually outscored the Eagles starters. KC was up 17-13 before its backups let the Eagles reserves march 80 yards for the go-ahead score in the final minute.
Along the way, the first-team defense played its finest game in the preseason, recording five sacks, including four of Eagles starter Kevin Kolb.
After taking a close look at game film all weekend, Haley and his coaches came away feeling good, the loss notwithstanding.
“That was the most positive sign to date of this football team and the direction we’re going,” Haley said. “I know it’s a preseason game, but the things we’ve been talking about from day one — being smart, tough, physical — the physical nature of that game was evident.
“If we play with that amount of effort and that physical on a down-in and down-out basis on both sides of the ball, that we’re going to be able to make good things happen.”
Taking their first three practice games as a whole, the Chiefs do not have to look far to see encouraging stats. They’ve outrushed their opponents by a total of 140 yards, had a better pass completion average and rung up 60 first downs to the opponents’ 48.
Most negative has been the turnovers. They’ve had five passes intercepted while picking off only one enemy throw and fumbled seven times, losing three.
“We know that part of being a smart football team is not turning the football over,” Haley said. “We’re not going to have many chances to win when we do that.”
Against Green Bay, the starters may not get much time.
“Winning is why you play the game. Winning is the reward of a lot of hard work and sacrifice by a lot of people. Any time you can win, that’s a good thing,” Haley said.
But what matters most is when you win.
The Sept. 13 game will be the Chiefs’ first Monday night appearance in years and will be the national unveiling of Arrowhead Stadium since its $375 million makeover.
“In the preseason, there are a lot of different guys playing. You’re playing with some guys who could be here, are here, moving up the ranks. There’s a lot of different variables,” Haley said. “But the bottom line goal is still to play better than the other team. Don’t take bad penalties. Play smarter. All those things.
“When it comes to Sept. 13, if we play better we have a great chance of winning the game. And that’s all we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to do everything we can do to be ready to play that game. If we’re 2-1, 1-2, 3-0 (preseason), it’s not going to matter. It’s just not. What’s going to matter is Sept. 13.”