Every NFL team has one or two of those guys: an unselfish undrafted player who consistently comes up big when the lights are on — a kind of player who comes from a different kind of cloth.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, former Brigham Young University safety Daniel Sorensen is one of them. “Dirty Dan” is the kind of player who packs his lunch early in the morning — making sure to bring the trusty old thermos filled with coffee — and when kickoff comes, turns it on.
This is vintage Sorensen.
#NFLFirstDown @nflmx #MNF Daniel Sorensen picked off Philip Rivers’ fourth interception at the goal line with 18 seconds to play, and the Kansas City Chiefs stayed on top of the AFC West with a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers— be2Sports (@Be2Sports) November 19, 2019
When starting safety Juan Thornhill went down with an ACL tear at the end of the 2019 regular season, Sorensen did his duty. In the Divisional Round playoff game against the Houston Texans, he shut down a fake punt. Soon after, he jarred the ball loose on a kickoff return. Then in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans, he made a memorable sack of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
“He’s a team player. We can count on him each and every day,” said Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu on the eve of the Super Bowl (via Deseret News). “I think most importantly, you understand he’s committed to the team. Whatever it is, he has to do it for the team.”
He’s not flashy; you won’t see him do a wild dance after a big play. There are no bells and whistles. He doesn’t even pound his chest. His teammates have nicknamed him “Dirty Dan” for getting it done on the field — for taking care of the dirty jobs that have to be done.
Speaking to reporters after Monday’s Chiefs practice, Sorensen was reminded of the fake punt against the Texans.
“It was a great play,” Sorensen recalled. “There were a lot of good plays to look back on. [But] I’m looking forward. I’m not looking back. Last year was last year. We had a good time. We did great things, but we’re moving on. Something to teach the younger guys is that every play matters. That’s what you need to be prepping for in the NFL. An any time, you can make a big play for your team.”
As our own Matt Lane noted last season, Sorensen brings more value to the team than you may realize.
Dan Sorensen has found a bit of a role for the Chiefs as a 3rd S covering RBs and allowing Mathieu to be a chess piece— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) November 26, 2019
Sorensen has a good feel in zone and does a good job sliding/pedaling while eyeing a QB. IDs vertical threat, pedals, walls off, then elevates for the pick. pic.twitter.com/wK1hOuil2S
Here, lined up as an overhang off the edge, Sorensen is first responsible for anything coming into the flat, but also for any receiver that turns to a vertical route after flashing into the flat.
As the running back works outside, Sorensen is reading his hips and starts with a lateral slide — but with the back aiming towards the pylon, he quickly transitions to a shuffle. The flat route isn’t sold well — and the quarterback never sees him — but Sorensen plays the route perfectly by squeezing the running back to the sideline while keeping his eye on the ball.
On Monday, Sorensen was quick to credit Mathieu’s influence.
“If you’ve ever seen the Badger out at practice, that dude is as intense as it gets,” Sorensen said. “We just follow his lead. Every day there is something that sets him off and he’s fired up up about something. That gets the rest of us going.”
Sorensen said that he believes the defense is ready to hit the ground running.
“I’ve had that same feeling that we just picked up exactly where we left off after the Super Bowl,” he said. “We were hitting on all cylinders and playing good defense. I would argue to say that with the time that we’ve had in the ramp-up period — plus training camp — we’re really dialed up in on defense.”
Early on, the secondary will need to set the tone — because the pressure will be on. Every team will now want a piece of the Chiefs. They are now the gold standard.