Although Romeo Crennel’s proven track record against Payton Manning may make Chiefs fans cautiously optimistic when the team meets the Broncos this season, it may well be KC’s first found draft pick Dontari Poe that enables Crennel to work his magic.
Crennel has had a lot of experience dealing with Manning. During his days at the defensive coordinator in New England, it seemed every season featured at least one marquee playoff matchup between the Colts and Patriots.
And Crennel’s team generally came out on top.
Though Crennel has had success at forcing Manning to play below his average, he won’t be facing the same Peyton Manning in 2012. Manning is now a member of the Broncos and while Denver will likely adopt a lot of the same types of plays Manning ran in Indy, it is unlikely the Chiefs will see a carbon copy of the Colts offenses of old. Chances are, the Broncos will run a combination of Manning’s offense and the offense the Broncos ran last year with Tim Tebow. We probably won’t see Manning running the option this season but the Broncos favored a run-heavy attack in 2011 and they probably won’t toss all that out the window.
In fact, the Broncos under Manning could feature a very dangerous balanced attack. Don’t be surprised if John Elway starts popping in the tape of Denver’s Super Bowl runs featuring himself and Terrell Davis.
To combat that, the Chiefs will need to do more than just load the field with DBs to disrupt the Denver passing attack. They’re going to need to stop the run.
In 2011, the Chiefs struggled when teams ran against their nickel set. That is because the team’s two best run-stuffers, Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey, were usually on the sidelines thanks to their futility in the pass rushing department.
Poe could change all that.
Early in OTA’s, the Chiefs have Poe playing strictly in sub-packages while favoring Amon Gordon at the nose when they are in their base set. If Poe continues to develop, however, he’s likely to see snaps on first and second downs as well.
If Crennel is going to feature a lot of DB’s then he’s going to need Poe to do a solid job of eating up space in the middle when the Broncos try to run. If Poe can do that, he’ll force runners outside so KC’s athletic corners can make plays. In short, Poe needs to be a human black hole in the middle of KC’s defense, sucking up blocks and ball carriers every time they go near him.
Easier said than done, especially for a rookie in need of “coaching up.”
Still, the Chiefs gambled on Poe for a reason. The Chiefs won’t face the Broncos until later in the year and that should give Poe plenty of time to develop.
The question is, will he be ready?