Kansas City Chiefs coaches have serious respect for Ryan Shazier

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Howard
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Howard /

Kansas City Chiefs coaches are quick to praise Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier as they prep to host the Steelers in Week 6.

When the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff had a chance to coach in last year’s Pro Bowl, they got a good feel for a key player they’ll be facing on Sunday in Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier. Both Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy spoke highly of Shazier leading up to Sunday’s contest at Arrowhead Stadium.

Shazier is a former first round pick for the Steelers with sideline to sideline speed who has become the new heart of the Steelers defense. It took Shazier a couple years to really grow into the role the Steelers had dreamed up for him, but he made good on their investment with a Pro Bowl season in 2016 with 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 87 total tackles for Pittsburgh.

This week, a couple members of the Chiefs coaching staff specifically mentioned Shazier’s abilities in media sessions. Andy Reid was asked about the challenge that Shazier presents and both he and Matt Nagy mentioned getting to know him at last year’s Pro Bowl gave them a chance to appreciate him up close.

"“He’s not a real big guy, but he plays so physical and he’s so fast, he’s got a great feel,” said Reid. “He covers almost like Troy Polamalu, just did it at the level two instead of the backend. They just let him do some things to have a little freedom there to move and roam and read the quarterback. He does it very well. He’s a heck of a football player, a good person too.”"

"“He’s super smart, super fast, plays hard, his energy level is out of this world and when you have guys like him on your defense you’re going to succeed,” added Nagy."

This year, Shazier is playing as well as ever, despite the lack of any sacks yet for the linebacker. Shazier already has two interceptions early this year, 2 forced fumbles and 6 passes defended. He also has a total of 45 tackles through the first five games of the year, a strong average of 9 per game, showing just how quickly he can get after the ball. So far this season, Shazier is also rated as the No. 3 overall linebacker in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.