Kansas City Chiefs will adjust use of Dee Ford, Justin Houston for best results
By Matt Conner
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebackers coach Mike Smith says the team will mix up where Justin Houston and Dee Ford line up in 2018.
The Kansas City Chiefs are shaking things up. Or rather, the team is moving pieces around.
Rather than predictably lining up Justin Houston and Dee Ford opposite each other on the same sides game after game as the starting outside linebackers, the Chiefs are ready to shake things up and create mismatches based on the personnel in the game. On Thursday, outside linebackers coach Mike Smith spoke to reporters and detailed his plans on how to best utilize the two pass rushing veterans.
"“If there’s a tackle that’s big and a little bit slower, Dee’s got one of the best get-offs in the league,” Smith said. “He’ll line up on him. If the tackle is a little bit smaller, Justin will go tear him up a little bit. That’s kind of what we’ll do … We’ve got to get our best player on their worst offensive lineman, wherever that might be.”"
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Houston led the Chiefs in sacks last season with 9.5, but he was often dropped into coverage and was consistently set up against a team’s left tackle, no matter what team was on the schedule. While Houston hasn’t put up a sack total to mirror the incredible 22 he put up in 2014, he remains an elite player who is often overlooked because the stat column fails to reflect the very real impact he has on each game as an all-around outside linebacker.
As for Ford, the challenge will be to simply stay on the field after losing nearly an entire season to a lingering back injury. That said, when he’s healthy, he can be a disruptive force due to his incredible burst. Smith sounds like he wants to best utilize that which will also help mask his weaknesses as the Chiefs likely won’t be asking Ford to do anything but what he does best.
What Smith didn’t touch on was what he will do with some of the developmental talent—specifically how he will handle Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks on the defense. Kpassagnon was the second round choice of John Dorsey just last year, while Speaks was this year’s second round pick. Such high investments should be playing very quickly, and Brett Veach himself said that he envisioned Speaks as a three-down player. Will he be ready from the outset?