Photo via David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star
From the FanPosts -Joel
DTR put out a pretty good FanPost on the 4th entitled The Chiefs Defense Is not Improving. The kind of thing I like to get into with people, but I missed out that day. I argue that the results might be similar, but there are a lot of differences.
These differences haven't had any effect on the W-L column, with a perfectly imperfect 0-4 record. But the Chiefs are profoundly different in makeup and attitude, and Pendergast is still experimenting with a lot of different tactics and personnel groupings.
In the thread that followed DTR's FanPost, a number of talking points came up that I'd like to address:
- Coach to suit the players or struggle until you get the right players?
I think you do a little of both, hedging to mask weaknesses as much as possible, but there's no hiding 1-on-1 mismatches, so you either give your corners help all the time at the expense of something else, or you expose them once in a while in 1-on-1's and hope you get a break. Gunther's prob'ly more conservative than Clancy, and I like Clancy better for it, even though he takes the heat when a DB is soundly beaten 1-on-1.
Some of the worst plays people point to as problems with Clancy are actually some of the things I find refreshing about Clancy. Regardless of whether it's 3-4 or 4-3, you get an edge in the middle by singling-up outside once in awhile, and Clancy's not afraid to put his DBs in position to make the play or blow it, because it's the sort of thing you have to do if you want to play winning football (and not just lessen the embarrassment of another predictable loss).
I hate to say it, but it's like the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor. They knew they couldn't beat the U.S. in a protracted war, but they knew that if they didn't take us on, they, as the last Asian-owned-and-operated Asian country in the world at that time, were about to go extinct. Luckily, they lost the war to the right guys...
- Chiefs were closer to a 4-3 squad than a 3-4 squad.
With or without Jared Allen, the Chiefs were still struggling every year to field a dominant front 4. Hit-or-miss on starters and mostly miss on their backups. Allen was great on the weak side, but Hali was never a strong side DE. Even his big-sack years, he was gettin' run over a lot on runs to the strong side. Chiefs could've stayed status quo up front, maybe added a FA or two, and looked for a tremendously quick and fast LB, but they needed a rebuild, in any case, and going big in the middle and methodically patching-up the LB corps was a sensible way to go about it.
- Chiefs aren't playin' any press coverage - always givin' a big cushion.
Some of the biggest plays by opposing offenses have come when KC blitzed and played press with the corners. It appears that teams are well aware of the individual weaknesses of Flowers and Carr, and (up routes against Flowers and inside slants against Carr) aren't afraid to go against any of the other DBs, virtually at will. Clancy hasn't hit on the right combo, yet, but he seems to keep trying different things, rather than settle on one "damage control" theme. And while you may hate seeing Leggett or Washington making mistakes, it's something he has to do in order to have any shot at positive change.
- Offensive and Defensive Stats.
I don't think they mean a whole lot, other than to say that it's clear the Chiefs haven't found themselves on either offense or defense. Neither unit is supporting the other. There's little margin for error by either unit, and little room for a lot of risk-taking.
- Broncos are obviously better-coached.
Broncos have a good/great secondary. Everyone talks about the 4-man pass rush of theirs, but the fact is they're puttin' 6 or more guys up on the line all day long, with 8 or more in the box all day long, even when the LBs are droppoing back in coverage. The uncertainty of whether they're comin' or not gives the 4 guys they DO send a real edge. The fact that they DO bring 6 or more fairly often is enough to establish that, and their play in the secondary allows their LBs to play downhill and get away with it a lot more than KC's LBs have been able to.
Anyhoo, none of this looks to me like a problem with the DC. Nor does it seem to me like they're fitting square pegs into round holes. It just looks like the back 4 hasn't yet developed enough consistency for the front 7 to operate the way it was designed to operate. I think switching to the 3-4 is a faster path to good D than swapping out all or most of the parts of one of the worst 4-3 teams in the league last year. Easier to find big men who can get it done up front, and you don't need as many of 'em.
Instead, what they did was keep the best of the widebodies up front, add more widebodies and give their 'tweeners in no-man's land one last shot at stickin' as OLBs. One of our 'tweeners made it. One didn't.