Photo courtesy KCChiefs.com
Todd Haley assistant coaches and coordinators don't talk to the media so it was a nice surprise to see Josh Looney of KCChiefs.com recently sat down with Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. As many of you know, there have been some things on defense the Chiefs have done well and some things they haven't done so well.
We'll start with someone Pendergast believes is making strides -- Tamba Hali. As we've noted plenty of times, Hali's transformation into an outside linebacker is especially impressive when you note that he's previously played with his hands on the ground.
"He put a lot of time in the offseason through the OTAs, mini-camp and of course training camp trying to learn how to play the position," Pendergast said of Hali. "We're asking him to stand up and not only read run or pass, but when he does read pass, drop into coverage based on what our defensive call is."
Pendergast pointed out that much of this, particularly dropping into coverage, is new for Hali. He's been excellent at pressuring the passer so it's nice to see that he's also progressing as a cover guy.
Looney also asked Pendergast the one area where the Chiefs have improved the most.
"There's a lot of things we have to do better but I'd probably say the third down defense has been the most improved. We've done a nice job of getting three and outs."
The Chiefs are among the league leaders in third down defense. They force a ridiculous amount of three-and-outs when you compare this season's number to last year. It's really an encouraging sign that the Chiefs are performing well on the most crucial down.
Pendergast also hit on two big problems for the Chiefs defense this season - Stopping the big play and stopping the run.
"The big plays are all about trust and accountability within the scheme and all 11 guys being on the same page and working together," he told Looney.
Indeed. This is pretty much exactly what Haley has said in the past. Big plays aren't always one little miscommunication by one player. It's a team effort and those sorts of things usually happen when everyone's not on the same page.
"I think first and foremost we have to continue to stop the run defensively," he explained. "There's been some games this year where we've played the run fairly well. We didn't do it as well as we would have liked last week."
As for the final three games?
"I think these last [three] games we have to continue working on stopping the run, eliminating the big plays and continuing to be good on third downs."