I will admit—when I learned Kansas City Chiefs decided to suddenly “play some young guys” on Sunday night in their 38-31 loss to the Seattle Seahawks with an ability to clinch (no exaggeration) three weeks off on the line, it did not make a ton of sense to me.
Kendall Fuller could not play after he was ruled on the wrong side of a game-time decision, and the Chiefs benched Ron Parker and Orlando Scandrick in favor of Daniel Sorensen and two 22-year-olds, Charvarius Ward and Tremon Smith.
The timing couldn’t have been more odd. It was unprecedented, but the Chiefs were seeing what we all saw: something had to change.
“I think we just felt like we had to do something to get some juice going,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, the head man in charge of the league’s No. 31 defense, according to yards allowed per game, said Thursday. “We only had so many places we could have changed, and [Ward] was one of them. I think Charvarius has got great speed. He brings speed to the defense, and that’s helpful. He’s a young, young guy, and that’s a big task to ask of him, but that’s why I thought he did a good job from the competitive nature.”
It’s fair to presume the Chiefs wanted Fuller and Nelson to start with Ward as their third option in nickel looks. When Fuller couldn’t go, that plan changed.
“You ended up with two young guys,” Sutton said. “But that’s the NFL, too. You just got to roll, you know? Sometimes you don’t have all your guys.”
Based upon Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s Monday conference call, Wednesday presser and Sutton’s thoughts on Thursday, the Chiefs were pleased with their decision, one Sutton admitted Thursday had been in the works for a few weeks.
“First, the physical ability has to be there,” defensive backs coach Al Harris said Thursday. “Then they can pick up the things mentally. For young players, more than likely, the mental aspect is the bigger picture to where you can go out there and he is not blowing coverages or anything like that.”
The Chiefs felt Ward showed that trait.
Although he wasn’t perfect—he took two defensive pass interference penalties and was beaten by a veteran receiver in Doug Baldwin in a critical play toward the end of the game—he offered enough, according to Sutton, to make the Chiefs feel good about their decision.
“He had a couple tough plays at the end,” Sutton said. “Those were tough plays. They were great throws. He was about as close as you could get to a man, but you got to make the plays, too. I thought, overall, he did a pretty good job for a first time out there. Russel’s a really good quarterback, very accurate, so I thought overall, he did a pretty good job out there.”
Asked if Ward would play moving forward on Wednesday, Reid answered in the affirmative.
“Yeah, potentially,” Reid said. “We’ll just see how that goes, but yeah, I’d tell you that he did some nice things there. Some things he can learn from too. He was in position to make some plays and now you’ve got to go up and get the ball out there.”
The signs are that Ward will get another crack when the Chiefs have their third chance to win the AFC West Sunday at home against Oakland. The coaches certainly feel he will make the most of it.
It is not ideal, but everybody can agree something had to be done.