Dan Sorensen seems to be a polarizing player for Chiefs fans, so let’s take a deeper look into what Dirty Dan brings to the table.
Is there a more polarizing player in Chiefs Kingdom than veteran safety Dan Sorensen? Some believe he’s a great safety who is always making plays in big-time moments while others give him bad nicknames and think he should be relegated to the bench. As someone who isn’t on either side, I wanted to take a look, get the full picture from this season, and see how Sorensen should be viewed.
Let’s try and get some clarity on the man they call Dirty Dan.
First off, Sorensen played 100 percent of all snaps from weeks 9-16, which was extremely impressive. His durability is a huge plus. With Juan Thornhill struggling since returning from his torn ACL, the Chiefs obviously felt Sorensen was giving them a better chance than Thornhill. I’d assume Sorensen playing every snap wasn’t the goal entering this season. The fact that he is able to assume this role and stay in the game at such an involved level speaks volumes about his preparation and conditioning. It is tough to fault him when the coaches are the ones keeping him in the game.
One thing that frustrates me, however, is seeing him one-on-one against a tight end or wide receiver. He struggles in man coverage and I feel that he gets beat way too often. PFF has him as a 50.1 rating overall, which is less than ideal, but he has made some clutch plays this season even with struggles in coverage. I know that highlights aren’t representative of consistent, every-down play but he has more big plays than most. I know the “clutch” gene is highly talked about in baseball, but in football it is less so. Does Sorensen possess that or does he just happen to be in the right place at the right time when the games are on the line? Either way, he has made some very memorable plays in a Chiefs uniform which cannot be taken away from him.
Sorensen actually led the team in tackles this season with 91, finishing 13 ahead of second place (Anthony Hitchens) and he chipped in with 3 interceptions. It felt like the missed tackles were still a problem. Going back through my notes from this season, he popped up a lot for missed tackles, considerably more than most. I also understand that a player isn’t going to make every tackle—the other team obviously is getting paid, too—but it was something I noticed. He might not make all of the tackles that we would like, but he sure was there to snuff out a fake punt or lay the wood in a few games that I didn’t see people upset about.
At the end of the day, I think people need to remember that Dan Sorensen went into this season expecting to be the backup safety and Juan Thornhill was supposed to be the starter. Sorensen isn’t getting paid like a stud starter at around $4 million a year, and for that contract, I think you could say he is performing exactly like he should be. I am not going to sit here and say Sorensen is a great safety, but I think we need to realize he is doing a good job as a third safety, and most backup safeties aren’t leading their teams in tackles while having a plethora of clutch highlights.
Dirty Dan, here’s to you and here’s to the Chiefs running it back!