Morning Huddle – Did the Chiefs’ defense really improve this offseason?

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Mahomes was named an Ambassador for the UK’s NFL Academy. We also look at takeaways from the Chiefs’ Rookie Minicamp.

Chiefs news for 8 May 2019

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State of the D: Did the Chiefs’ defense really improve this offseason? | The Athletic

Linebackers
2018: Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Dorian O’Daniel, Terrance Smith, Ben Niemann

2019: Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Dorian O’Daniel, Damien Wilson, Ben Niemann

This group is largely the same as it was a year ago, so the real hope for improvement comes not from the players but from the scheme. Hitchens played significantly worse in Kansas City than he had the previous several years of his career, proving to be a fish out of water in Sutton’s system. Ragland took a step back as well, in part due to lingering injuries. O’Daniel was the only linebacker who didn’t consistently draw the ire of Chiefs fans last year, though his role was limited mostly to passing downs. Niemann has potential but is more hope than substance at this point.

With the Chiefs shifting their scheme, the important factor isn’t the move from a 3-4 to a 4-3, as most defenses spend only about a quarter of their snaps in their base defense. Instead, the hope for improvement comes from the role linebackers are asked to play in Spagnuolo’s defense. Rather than being asked to sit back and react, they should have more of an attacking role. This suits Hitchens in particular much better than his previous role in Sutton’s scheme.

Four Things to Know About the Chiefs’ Tryout Signees | The Mothership

3. Safety Andrew Soroh is versatile, lining up at both defensive back and linebacker at Florida Atlantic

Soroh was a hybrid of sorts for the Owls, playing safety and linebacker over his four years with the team. He discussed that versatility 
with the folks at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel prior to the 2018 campaign, when he was asked to shift his primary focus from safety to linebacker.

“You have to embrace everything, no matter what position I play,” Soroh said. “I’m just excited to play this game, play this sport.”

The six-foot-two, 210-pound Soroh racked up 56 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks as a redshirt senior last season.

Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes named ambassador for NFL’s new London Academy | The Kansas City Star

“I am very proud to be one of the first ambassadors for the NFL Academy in the UK.” Mahomes said in an NFL news release. “My foundation — 15 and the Mahomies — we work to give young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, greater opportunities in life. The NFL Academy’s objective in combining football and education to do just that is something I am very excited about playing a role in. I can’t wait to see it get started,. and I look forward to getting over to London to contribute in its success.”

The program, which will educate about 80 students ages 16-18 in its first class, aims to give students a path to employment, further education and the potential opportunity to play NCAA football.

“The Academy is a first-of-its kind initiative that will deliver three key elements: education, character development and football,” NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood said in the release. “The inspiration for the idea was our long-term partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. As well as playing games at the new stadium, we had a desire to create something meaningful for the community on a year-round basis.”

From Eric Berry to Ndamukong Suh, predicting where the top 10 remaining NFL free agents will land | CBS Sports

LB Jamie Collins, Kansas City Chiefs

Unless the 
Patriots bring back their old friend or the Baltimore Ravens get creative to replace C.J. Mosley, Collins seems like the kind of luxury upgrade Andy Reid would love to give Steve Spagnuolo. Kansas City’s LB situation isn’t insanely bad, but with some money to spare, they can afford to find a place for Collins, especially since LB was the one position the Chiefs didn’t address in the draft. They’ve already been aggressive to upgrade the defense, so why not finish it off? Collins got paid. Now he can contend.

Five Takeaways from Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Minicamp | The Mothership

1.    Juan Thornhill is every bit as advertised
The play of safety Juan Thornhill—the rookie second-round pick of our Virginia—was one of the easiest things to notice throughout the weekend.

Thornhill, who was dubbed as a ballhawk with 13 career interceptions in college, had a diving interception in his first professional practice on Saturday, and was all over the place and looking like he was in complete control of what was going on with the defense throughout the weekend. He was communicating with the linebackers and cornerbacks pre-snap and showing no signs of being hesitant as a vocal voice that backed it up with his playmaking ability.

Based on these three practices, Thornhill is the player that fans should keep their eyes on as we head towards OTAs next week and then training camp in July. 

“Every day he got his hands on the ball,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid noted of Thornhill. “Every day. He almost had one here in the red zone (on Monday). It looks like he’s got a pretty good feel for things. He’s got a little bit of a knack there. Good worker, smart, but again, you have to have that feel back there and he seems to have that.”

NFL teams with glaring holes still to fill | Yardbarker

Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback

Dee Ford’s ill-timed neutral-zone infraction received the bulk of the blame for the Chiefs falling short of Super Bowl LIII, but their secondary’s inability to stop Patriots pass catchers played a significant role. The Chiefs remain vulnerable on the back end.
  

Their interception leader last season, Steven Nelson, departed in free agency. On the heels of a value-sapping 2018, Bashaud Breeland is in line to replace him. Unless 
Tremon Smith (sixth round, 2018), Charvarius Ward (undrafted, 2018) or Alliance of American Football refugee Keith Reaser show extensive development, the three-time reigning AFC West champions need to consider outside help.

Patrick Mahomes will no longer be on his rookie contract in 2020. The 
roster math becomes more complicated after this season, especially with Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu and, soon, Chris Jones attached to top-market deals. Kansas City needs to do everything possible to stack the roster this year, and the Chiefs are certainly not stacked at corner.

Charvarius Ward and Byron Pringle Visit Platte City Middle as Part of Character Playbook LIVE Program | The Mothership

More than 700 students gathered in the gym at Platte City Middle School last Friday for an afternoon of games, activities and some words of advice from two members of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was all part of the NFL’s 
Character Playbook LIVE program – an initiative that strives to equip young people with the tools they need to lead a successful life – as cornerback Charvarius Ward and wide receiver Byron Pringle spoke about their upbringing, answered questions and even challenged the kids to an impromptu push-up competition.

There were laughs, autographs and high-fives abound.

“I love giving back to the kids. Just seeing the smile on their faces makes it all worth it,” Pringle said. “I never met an NFL player when I was young, so I just loving doing stuff like this.”

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Spider
Spider

I like our Safety situation, but the CBs are incomplete. Likewise, the DL looks good, but the LB corps is lacking overall. I hope we’re all pleasantly surprised.

Berserker
Berserker

Sorensen out, Soroh in! Make it sor.

ArrowFan
ArrowFan

We still have 20 mill to throw around or roll over. I think after OTA’s there will be shopping around for what is still needed. WR LB DB?

Team Player
Team Player

LB LB LB and CB

Berserker
Berserker

And after that, maybe a TE.

Mitko

The interception leader last year Steven Nelson

He had 4 last year guys.
He’s had 4 in his career.
Bortles, Mayfield, Rosen, & Rivers.

I think the Chiefs will be fine in that regard

upamtn

C Ward

Mitko

Freaking out over Nelson’s lost INTs us like Freaking out over Parker’s lost INTs because he was tied for Second on the Team! (With 2) or Houston’s T4th INTs at 1

Berserker
Berserker

I actually look forward to the day when the CB position is my biggest worry. Right now, I’m more worried about #2 TE and #3 OT, and all of our LBs, than I am about CB.

blood
blood

Cam is probably your swing tackle, like it or not….and I think we all want him to stay inside, but Andy has a different mindset than us. I just think that’s the way they view it, so I expect no moves there.

The linebackers are my biggest need, they did basically nothing for this position, so the way it stands now we have to hope one of our guys is going to show they have developed into a competant player. This thought is unsettling. I hope they arent finished with this position group is all I can say.

upamtn

Thornhill

that is all

KC Dude (A.K.A Zif)

So… Should I?
comment image

I am really wanting to try the fried cheeseburger.

Berserker
Berserker

I can’t see your photo, but a fried cheeseburger sounds…challenging. Do they fry the whole thing, or just the hamburger patty? Not sure I’d do a complete fried burger, but a burger with a fried patty could be amazing.

I did eat a fried Mars Bar once. Once.

Team Player
Team Player

I made a Monte Cristo cheeseburger once using bacon grease. Tastes great but man it hit like a ton of bricks.

Berserker
Berserker

Yeah, Monte Cristos. I shied away from those even back when I still had the metabolism of a teenager.

QuackTastic
QuackTastic

I really hope that Spags doesn’t dick around with giving DoD snaps like Sutton did. He should be a starter without question in this defense. Same goes for Thornhill. I could have easily seen Bob benching Juan for the first half of the season and starting Dirty Dan.

Cheat Code
Cheat Code

I could see Gary Johnson giving him some competition at the WILL if he makes the team. Similar profile. Overall though, I agree that DOD should start over Hitchens at the WILL if they insist on starting Ragland at MIKE.

ChiefUdall
ChiefUdall

With Andy at the helm, don’t be surprised if the offense looks drastically different. I think we are going to see a lot more of 2 RB sets, more running and RB being split out. You will see Pat being more surgical and doing more dink and dunk throws. The defense will be better, period. Our D line is vastly improved to stop the run, will have a sneaky way of getting more sacks than we did last year. You will see more sacks when they matter on 3rd and 4th downs, unlike last year where it feels like they happened more on early downs. Safety group is night and day difference in quality, Badger and Juan are a huge upgrade. Don’t be sleeping on Hitch, you all gonna see why he was brought over here.

Daniel Harms

The Chiefs will not have more sacks than they had last year. I think 40 is realistic with this group

ChiefUdall
ChiefUdall

I was referring to later downs, didn’t think we would best 52. Do think we will be low to mid 40’s.

Berserker
Berserker

Well, I would believe that we’ll see RBs used more in the passing game this year. There’s just so many good RBs on the 90-man roster right now. And so few good TEs…

Y’all who are still all-in on Hitchens, man, I don’t know how you do it.

SDNativeinTX
SDNativeinTX

I saw him play in Dallas — he was a pretty good LB there the last two seasons for them. I put his suckage last year down to:
A) Contractitus – a debilitating injury to a players bank account, causing it to swell to levels where the player knows he doesn’t have to do diddly and he is set for life.
B) Forgetting how to football. Or
C) Being asked to do things or play in or from spots he was not really comfortable with, so he was doing a lot of thinking instead of just playing football.
One of those things happened. I’m willing to see what he looks like in this scheme before I fully dismiss him.

Berserker
Berserker

D) Sorensen Syndrome – Wherein a player goes from being a primary backup to being a primary starter, and therefor the team relies upon him more directly, and therefor fans see him more often, and therefor see that he’s just not very good.

blood
blood

The Juan true love is getting rediculous at this point. Dude has yet to play a down of meaningful football. The excitement is understood, but speaking in absolutes about a rookie that just went through his rookie mini camp is pre mature ejaculation,

go_saleaumua
go_saleaumua

Fun fact….I did some digging over on draftscout.com, and what did I find?

DAT’s numbers (ignore his college mislabeling)

R. Davis’ numbers

Oddly similar.

Rashard Davis has a year and a half in the same system (PHI) and has seen some adversity (cut & re-signed, cup of coffee in OAK from Nov-April) so he might have a little fire to him. Looks like a guy who can bring some skills to the table physically….I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s about.

Berserker
Berserker

I like the RB from J.M. I’m hoping he can push for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Maw423
Maw423

I just want to see him and the Sausage truckin people together on ST.

Savagerider
Savagerider

Im not to optimistic about the defense. I think the offense will be okay but will need hill in a few of the games to pull out a couple extra wins and get us into superbowl

Anthony Stratton

I think the defense will be better, but I doubt thr improvement directly correlates to what we invested ie contracts, draft picks and dead cap

Team Player
Team Player

Don’t complain about the swamp that was already there when it’s being drained

Anthony Stratton

What, regarding the dead cap? I think its pertinent when you cut a player and carry a large dead cap hit for it and replace him with a player who costs even more money. Esp when the new player isn’t as good as the player you cut. Hell, both Ford and Houston graded out as better pass rushers than Clark and we could have had either for less total long term money without giving up a 1st round pick.

I think the defense is better with either Ford/Houston AND Byron Murphy than just Clark. Plus it would have saved us a ton of future cap space. So thats why I say the improvement will not be proportional to the investment. Or for that matter Tre Flowers instead of Ford/Houston. Same deal. There were more affordable ways to go about improving the D than the route we took IMO. And I think they would have been better.

Hope I’m eating crow on this in 6 months tho…

Team Player
Team Player

Pretty sure that Ford and Houston v2019 won’t be and wouldn’t be nearly as effective as v2018. Even without the scheme change.

Anthony Stratton

Guess we’ll find out.

Team Player
Team Player

Still going to be apples and oranges

But I care a lot less about sacks than stops. A LOT less

Fire_FG_the_moron
Fire_FG_the_moron

Ummm….

A sack IS a stop. Its a negative yardage stop. I’ll take me some sacks all day every day. Especially Sunday. Besides, sacks = macs.

Team Player
Team Player

Drive ending stops. Sorry for the confusion

ChiefUdall
ChiefUdall

Agree, seen to many early down sacks then converted 3rd and longs last year.

Berserker
Berserker

I’m impressed at your efficiency, leaving yourself two completely different outs in just 20 words.

It won’t be apples to oranges. It will be edge rushers compared to edge rushers.

It won’t be about team achievements, i.e. “stops.” No DEWINZ. It will be about individual edge rushers compared to individual edge rushers.

I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Obviously, I have the same hopes as you. But if the result turns out to be something I didn’t hope for, I won’t hide from it.

Like Tony said, guess we’ll find out.

Team Player
Team Player

Sheesh. I wasn’t trying to weasel my way out. It’s a different scheme and all these guys have different teammates. I think we already rehashed that Ford in particular wouldn’t fit the 4-3 under. I just couldn’t think of a way to get an accurate comparison for ‘proof’. If you have one I’ll gladly go with it.

Berserker
Berserker

Yeah, you probably weren’t trying to. But that is what it amounted to.

We’ll be comparing 4-3 DE to 4-3 DE, in the same season. How will Clark compare to Houston or Ford this season? That’s it, that’s all there is to the question.

Complicating the question with purely hypothetical details like, what if Spags couldn’t find an appropriate role for Ford…well, wasn’t that inability to adapt scheme to talent, one of the big complaints about the DC who just got fired?

Maybe if we’d traded Houston/Ford for cap space to, say, pay a CB, then the apples:oranges angle might be legit. But like Tony said, we didn’t use that extra space to pay a CB….

Berserker
Berserker

Aaand it looks like we can add another direct, direct, comparison to this subject, if the Seahawks actually do sign Ziggy Ansah like today’s news says they will.

Anthony Stratton

Apples to oranges? Both are playing in a 4-3.

Berserker
Berserker

Fans look for excuses for their team, even if they don’t mean to.

alsi2
alsi2

My casual observation last season regarding Houston was that he appeared to be slowing down. I think it may have been against the Colts in the playoff game that Houston was in a position to chase down a play and make an important tackle on a sideline play, and then he just seemed to release and let the play go as if he was gassed or even disinterested which I know would not be accurate to say. I don’t really know what happened on that play, but it just seemed to say to me that age was catching up to him which is no surprise, is it? It was only one play, but it was a playoff game, and who wants to ever see a player not follow through on any play in a playoff game?

All that to say, in comparing Clark to Houston, we really need to remember that Houston has no upside at this point in his career due to aging. He is never going to play better and better, However Clark is younger and upside is possible. He may still improve with age at this point in his career. Houston is more likely to continue slowing down and the likelihood for the frequency of future injuries is only going to go up. Comparing historical Houston to historical Clark is, in my opinion, a flawed analysis if wanting to project which player will be better in 2019 and beyond. I think Clark is in a position to outperform Houston in the coming years though it will all be speculative analysis. I am happy with getting him in place of Houston at this point in time. I hope it works out this way.

WTF_Chiefs
WTF_Chiefs

Great idea for an article……..Compare Houston/Ford #s vs Clark’s #s against common opponents in common location for last season ….. ie. Cardinals @ both teams/Both teams @ Rams…… Gives you SOME common criteria to compare and contrast

WTF_Chiefs
WTF_Chiefs

There will be extenuating circumstances like injuries, weather , etc obviously and if you don’t want to do it maybe pass idea on to Seth or Harms

Anthony Stratton

I like it.

workingmansdead

The defense should be better, but it sure would be nice to upgrade that LB corps. It looks brutal at the moment.

Daniel Harms

The defense isn’t going to be world beaters after one offseason, but two seasons of bottom feeders on defense, it will be much improved from what we’ve seen the last two years

Anthony Stratton

Good morning AG!