For the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs, the overhaul of personnel has yielded some amazing results.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, special teams coordinator Dave Toub and offensive coordinator Doug Pedersen have turned a talent filled roster into a contender. They have laid the foundation and gave this team the tools to compete in the NFL, and they a chance to not only take the AFC Wes,t but secure home field advantage if everything plays out right.
The coordinators spoke to the media on Thursday and here are some of the highlights from their chat.
Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton
Q: What goes into getting a pick six?
“Well I think one part of it is that it does start actually with talking. You have to explain that any time you can take the ball back on defense, it’s important. That’s either taking it back by three and out or taking it back by getting the ball. One of the things you have to do is get people running toward the ball when it is thrown because ultimately those are going to be your blockers. When we intercept in practice we try to return it for a touchdown. We don’t want to just catch it and stop. You have to get up that sideline. The guys have to be hustling to build the wall and it’s like it turns into an offensive play.”
Q: Do you break down the interceptions your players had and say “here’s what we did right and here’s what we did wrong on this particular interception?”
“Well, maybe that’s a layered question, but you always address the defense itself. Then you’re going to address the play and just like Eric Berry’s second interception, we didn’t get the intended receiver blocked. Eventually somebody else got him, but right behind him all the way down that crooked path he took was the receiver trailing him. He is dangerous, one, because he can get it and two he can strip the ball because you don’t know where he is coming from. The primary thing, like you always say, is you try to block the intended receiver, so the next guy coming is looking for the intended receiver, get him blocked up and then go. It’s a habit. That’s what we are always telling them. You don’t change your habits on game day, you either do it or you don’t do it. There’s really no in between on it.”
Q: How close are you to getting Justin Houston back?
“Well you know he is practicing and is in a lot of the drills. He has worked with the first group. It’s just really day-to-day and drill-to-drill. It’s great to see him back out there, but the thing I really appreciate about Justin (Houston) is that he is practicing like he is trying to play and that’s what we need him to do and hopefully we can get him in. It would be a great boost for us.”
Chiefs Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub
Q:You didn’t score a special teams touchdown in Oakland, what happened?
“We let the team down. No, we were close on a couple. The first one was a big one, getting that out – it was good to have such a fast start. Coach Reid talks about having a fast start and getting a big return. Obviously, the offense scoring on the very next play, you couldn’t start any quicker than that.”
Q:What is the impact of having return touchdowns?
“We had very similar situations in Chicago. You always put pressure on the kickoff team by taking it out at the one-yard-line. You have to be able to make them pay, you have to block them, you have to create seams, you have to have returners that are capable. Fortunately, we have that situation here.”
Q: Will Dexter McCluster be back on Sunday?
“That’s the plan. We cut Chad (Hall) yesterday and that’s an indicator that we think Dexter is going to be okay for the game.”
Q: What does it mean to have McCluster back?
“Dexter back is big, he’s a threat. Obviously with the two touchdowns and what he does saving field position, catching all of those short kicks, he catches the deep ones. Obviously the threat that he’s going to catch it every time, that creates a lot of pressure on opposing teams as well.”
Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Doug Pederson
Q: Do you think because you had so much success with the screen game against Oakland it will limit you from using it now?
“Well, I think most offenses, I know ours, the screen game becomes a big part of what you do since the screens are typically a situational play for you, especially if it’s third down so it’s a long situation, (that’s good) for the screen. It’s something that teams work on every week, the screen game and we’re going to continue to find unique and creative ways to get our guys into space.”
Q: How is Alex Smith at throwing those passes?
“He’s great because obviously for the quarterback position, there’s a little bit of deception there. You can use your eyes, you can use a pump fake, you can look away, use a play action pass to get the defense to go one way and the screen back the other. The quarterback is just as important as the timing between the back and the offensive line.”
Q: It looked like Alex Smith held the ball a little bit longer when throwing for touchdowns this past game. Is that accurate?
“Yeah, it’s accurate. You know with the screens, you want to feel, you want to present to the defense that the quarterback still has the football and if they can see the quarterback kind of treading the water, let’s go get the quarterback and then deliver the football. Again, that’s that deception, that’s that timing that he has developed over the years.”
Q: Talk about that challenge of playing against Robert Mathis.
“I’ll tell you, he’s a tremendous player and we all know, with 16.5 sacks, he’s playing at a high MVP-like level. He’s a relentless guy. He’ll play on the left; he’ll play on the right. I mean you have to account for him. Give him his respect, he’s a great player. You’re going to have to put two hands on him or four hands on him and just obviously know where he’s going to line up.”