With MIKE linebacker Nick Bolton returning to the lineup last week, it marked the first time the Kansas City Chiefs had the full spectrum of their linebackers available since early October.
You always want your defense to be healthy and have all of their weapons available, but you especially want to have them available when you take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas Day — in a game where if the Chiefs win they will clinch their eighth AFC West Championship in a row.
But having everyone back doesn’t come without consideration. Drue Tranquill filled in admirably in Bolton’s absence, to the point where there was little dropoff in the quality of play between the two.
So with Bolton back on the field, what does this mean for Tranquill and his role in the defense?
Linebackers coach Brendan Daly was asked about this while speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon. Daly replied that Tranquill excels in so many areas that they will find ways to get him on the field.
“He’s become really versatile for us in terms of the way we can use him,” said Daly. “His football IQ allows him to do that at a high level... Even with Nick back last week, he’s still going to rotate in there some. He does a number of different things for us. We’re going to continue to get him on the field. He’s going to help us.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said something similar when he was asked about Tranquill during his own press conference.
“I think you saw last week, that even though Nick was back, we got Drue in there for a couple of series at MIKE linebacker, so we’ll probably continue to do that,” said Spagnuolo. “He’s so flexible and versatile that we can use them in a number of different roles”
Spagnuolo went on to say that due to Tranquill’s knowledge and how he sees the game, he brings value to the team off the field as well.
“He was just in my office a little bit ago with a what-if that I probably hadn’t even thought of,” said Spagnuolo. “There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that you probably don’t see that his value is tremendous to us.”
At the very least, it seems that Tranquill will be there to give Bolton a breather and step in as MIKE linebacker on an as-needed basis. What else Spagnuolo has up his sleeve for Tranquill, fans will just have to wait and see.