Dee Ford, the Kansas City Chiefs 2014 first round pick, finally got his opportunity last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders with Justin Houston out with a knee injury. Ford could get the opportunity again this weekend against the San Diego Chargers if Houston can't play again.
Chiefs fans and media are all waiting to see if Ford will ever be a starter or even a regular contributor, or if the dreaded "bust" label should be applied.
Back in August, I took a look at Dee Ford's snaps in the first preseason game. You can read some of the notes here but the gist of it was this:
At this point, Dee Ford is still a speed rush specialist that needs to develop more counter moves, awareness and strength. He certainly has an impressive first step and very good speed around the edge ... but that's pretty much all he showed on Saturday.
Fast forward to last Sunday and I went back and watched Ford on coaches film vs. the Raiders where Ford played 75 of the 79 defensive snaps.
To my eye, Ford tallied:
- One good snap in coverage (wasn't asked to drop back much at all)
- Four good snaps vs the run
- 20 good snaps as a pass rusher ( including five hurries and the hit on Josh Mauga's INT)
- 50 plays where he was essentially a non-factor
Ford has a reputation as a one trick pony -- that he relies on the speed rush but hasn't developed an all-around game. In my un-scientific eye-test, I attempted to count how many plays Ford COULD have impacted but didn't due to his lack of a secondary pass rush move.
I noticed at least 14 plays where Ford came screaming around the edge but wasn't able to make a play because his speed was either used against him (let him run by the play) or he had an opportunity to make an impact if he were able to execute a spin, rip, bull rush to counter the block or another one of those moves we see a veteran like Tamba Hali make.
What others said about Dee Ford vs Oakland:
Pro Football Focus on Ford's game vs. the Raiders:
Ford was -1.5 vs the run, -3.0 pass rush, -0.9 pass pass coverage, +0.2 penalty for the -5.2 overall grade.
He made their worst players at every position list for Week 13:
Ford had a very low pass rush grade, despite finishing the day with a hit and five hurries. The hit was a cleanup, and three of the hurries were because of the offense holding the ball too long, rather than any good work done by Ford.
Here are some Andy Reid quotes from his conference call with reporters on Monday:
Q: How did Dee Ford perform in his first start?
Andy Reid: "Yeah, I thought Dee did some nice things. He got a lot of snaps, and sacks he ended up causing just by his rush. Even though he wasn’t declared as the guy who made the sack he was able to get that collapse on the tackle there – with the offensive tackle and the quarterback. So I thought he did some good things. I thought it was a good experience for him, too."
Q: How did Dee Ford do against the run?
Reid: "I thought he did pretty good, actually."
Q: If Justin Houston is out next week, will Dee Ford be the starter or has Frank Zombo earned a deeper look there?
Reid: "I would tell you that Dee would probably be the guy, I haven’t gotten that far on it but I would probably tell you that. But we have full confidence in Zombo playing, that’s not a big deal to rotate him in there, it’s not a big deal. Three year guy – give him a blow."
Here's what I saw:
Where Dee Ford wins:
- Great first step, consistently the quickest of the front seven to get into the backfield.
- Seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Didn't appear to wear down.
- When he's around the play, his motor doesn't stop. Especially evident on Mauga's interception return, Ford kept fighting, didn't give up and eventually made the impact play.
- Shows speed in space chasing down plays.
Where Dee Ford still needs work:
- Far too easily blocked by an OT. Consistently swallowed up by a single blocker.
- ONLY employs a speed rush. Can get to the edge quickly but doesn't display any strong counter moves or bull rush.
- Doesn't consistently stand out on film. Far too many plays where he doesn't disrupt the offense whatsoever.
- Looks like he needs to continue to build strength and improve use of hands. His hands are active, but not violent..(in case you're wondering what "violent hands" look like... see: Hali, Tamba)