On Tuesday, MN, explaining why his progress as a pass-rusher has helped transform the fsFan wrote a tremendous piece on Allen BaileyKansas City Chiefs' front. There is another player who also has made a leap and is proving to be as important on this defense: Husain Abdullah.
Abdullah came to the Chiefs last season after going on a religious pilgrimage in 2012. The defensive back had previously been a contributor for the Minnesota Vikings, but was viewed by most as decent depth and not much else. In 2013, Abdullah only saw limited time behind Kendrick Lewis, despite Lewis' pronounced struggles.
This offseason, general manager John Dorsey signed Abdullah to a two-year contract. It appears to be a wise investment, as Abdullah has played lights out in 2014 even without All-Pro Eric Berry next to him for the majority of the young campaign. What makes Abdullah so unique is his ability to play in the box along with covering in both man and zone schemes.
Let's go back to Kansas City's 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots. This game provides three perfect examples of Abdullah displaying why he is such an asset to Sutton. Let's look at these plays, one for each of the aforementioned skill sets.
In the box
This is the first play New England runs from scrimmage. Take a look at where Abdullah lines up:
Abdullah is lined up next to Josh Mauga, across from Shane Vereen. This is a classic example of an in-the-box safety, something Berry has been famous for in Kansas City over the years. As we will see, Abdullah shines in this role.
The Patriots have run a screen, and Vereen has two blockers ahead of him who appear ready to paste Abdullah. Even worse for the Chiefs, the field is wide open behind Vereen, giving him an easy first down and perhaps even more if Abdullah doesn't either slow him down or somehow make the play.
Look at Abdullah use his quickness and awareness in a phonebooth. Abdullah is able to sidestep a hard-charging lineman and gives himself an angle to tackle Vereen. Most players would try to take on the blockers and give other defenders a chase to rally toward the ball. Instead, Abdullah uses his instincts to get into prime position.
The result is quite impressive. Abdullah gets to Vereen and showcases a textbook tackle, bringing down the running back for only a 4-yard gain. Ultimately, this led to a three-and-out and started the pounding of the Patriots. By the way, it shouldn't go unsaid that Abdullah made the tackle. How many times do guys miss? Great job.
In this frame, we have Abdullah lined up in the slot, man-to-man, against one of the premier slot receivers in Julian Edelman. Look at Abdullah's stance, he's playing an outside technique. Tom Brady sees this and knows the slant should be there, provided the deep safety doesn't close on the ball too quickly.
Edelman drives hard up the field and then takes a quick move toward the inside, beginning his slant route. For all the world, it appears Edelman has an easy reception on this route, provided Brady throws a decent ball. Ron Parker is in the backpedal, so Abdullah is left to make the play or allow some yardage.
Look at how Abdullah as closed the gap. He used great hip movement and excellent technique to turn and run with Edelman. How much of a window is there now for Brady to complete this pass? Almost zero. The throw is solid but Abdullah is legally all over Edelman, and ultimately breaks up the play. This is how the job is done, and by a safety no less.
Again, we see Abdullah lined up in the box. However, the Chiefs were up 34-7 at this point so Abdullah knew he was likely going to be covering against the pass. As the play begins, it is obvious the Chiefs are playing zone with everybody going into a backpedal. Abdullah's job is the underneath middle.
Look at how Abdullah keeps his eyes on Brady the entire time. In this frame, Brady is getting ready to release the ball. Abdullah is tracking his vision the entire time and is about to jump the throw and take it to the house for a cherry on top of this blowout. It sounds simple, but so many times a player gets lost in space and doesn't read the quarterback, Abdullah shows exactly how it is done.
He also did this twice in last year's playoff game against another top-notch quarterback, Andrew Luck. Of any Chief, Abdullah is the best in terms of getting his focus on the release point and breaking.
The end result is Abdullah getting his hands on the ball and not dropping it. The veteran returns it for his second touchdown in Kansas City, sending the crowd into bedlam.
Without Bailey and Abdullah, this defense is a disaster. Neither is in the top-five on this defense in terms of talent when the unit is completely healthy, but they are vital cogs in the machine. Abdullah gives Sutton such a rock to lean on in the secondary, and considering he is replacing Lewis, it is beyond a huge upgrade.