Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid met with the media in a Zoom conference call Monday, less than 16 hours after the team’s 36-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Reid used his opening statement to highlight the idea that defensively, the Chiefs need to tackle and shed blocks better.
Time was then ours.
Listen to the full presser above or by clicking here. Here were the most significant takeaways:
Reid explained why safety Daniel Sorensen is getting more time on the field than Juan Thornhill.
According to the Sunday Night Football gamebook, safety Juan Thornhill played the least of those defenders with snaps against the Ravens, coming in at 11 plays. Veteran safety Daniel Sorensen player 100% of defensive snaps, or 76 plays.
“Juan and Dan, they do certain things the same and a couple things different,” said Reid. “It all kind of equals out, and Dan really had the better camp and so on. Maybe a little bit more consistency there, but we love Juan and where he’s getting himself back to where he was his rookie year. I don’t want to take anything way from the effort that he’s put forward to do that. They all get a chance to play. I think we’ll take it step by step here and can’t have enough of those guys that can play.”
Some figured Thornhill might get the nod next to Tyrann Mathieu in his return to the lineup after Thornhill had an excellent second half against the Cleveland Browns. Not to be, at least on Sunday night.
Reid discussed Chris Jones and his process as he learns to play along the edge more.
Early in the game against the Chiefs, the Ravens appeared to be running at new defensive end Chris Jones. The head coach explained the work-in-progress that is his lineman’s learning of a new primary defensive position.
“These last two games here have been great for him,” said Reid of Jones. “He’s going against the best two run schemes, and this one here with the whole option element in it, you’ve really got to be disciplined with it, and he can do that. He’s big and he’s strong, he just has to keep working the fundamentals full speed and going through it. Some of this is growing pains right now for him on a few plays.
“Now listen, he made a few plays too, but that consistency ends up being important when you’re out there. Next level, these guys are at the linebacker level, you’re talking plus four yards there, and if they get passed the linebacker level to the next level, those are big hitters. So, it’s important that he keeps working it.”
Jones finished with one tackle and one pressure against the Ravens, per Pro Football Focus.
Reid addressed the Chiefs’ problems in the red zone.
The red zone was the point of focus for the Chiefs’ defense this offseason. The unit has been openly talking about the improvement necessary since March. To start the season, opposing offenses have scored touchdowns eight times in eight tries.
“Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) spent a lot of time in the offseason with that,” acknowledged Reid. “We worked it a ton in camp, and we haven’t had the results here. We’ll keep pounding that out until we get it right. It’s one of those things, everything gets magnified when you’re in the red zone, whether it’s good or bad. Even if you’re not tackling in the field, and it doesn’t happen in the red zone, you’re not giving up blocks up the field, then it’s going to get magnified in the red zone.
“Everything’s a little bit faster and all your strengths and weaknesses get magnified. So, you’ve got to make sure that you kind of get these fundamentals down and take care of it.”
At this writing, early in the season, the Buffalo Bills are doing the best job in the league at 16.67%.
Both Sunday night and Monday, Reid emphasized that tackling improvement is necessary.
Pro Football Focus credited the team with nine missed tackles, including Sorensen’s four.
“I thought we got better with it the second half,” noted Reid. “Some of that’s a mindset, not being so cautious, rallying to the ball, narrowing space for runners, again when you’re being blocked, shedding and then wrapping up. Those are all important things, but some of it’s a mindset that you have to take care of, so that’s where we go with it.”
The Chiefs will begin working on that revamped defensive mindset when they resume practice on Wednesday.