The San Diego Chargers are 10 games into a 16 game season, and all we know about the Kansas City Chiefs is that they're winning like crazy. Mike McCoy's team will face Andy Reid's squad twice in the final 6 games of the season, so I turned to Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride to learn more about the Chiefs' road from league's worst to league's best.
John: What is Bob Sutton doing with this Chiefs defense that Romeo Crennel couldn't do?
Joel: Romeo Crennel was more about a bend-but-don't-break type of defense while Bob Sutton is more about attacking. The Chiefs defense is blitzing more and from different areas. Dontari Poe is asked to attack the quarterback rather than sit back and take up blockers.
The Chiefs defense is playing a lot of press man coverage, which only works if you have the personnel. The Chiefs discovered Marcus Cooper, a third cornerback, which has allowed them to put Brandon Flowers in the slot, creating three legit cornerbacks. It's really just giving the players more freedom in the defense and allowing them to get after the quarterback. You pressure the quarterback and hope he makes a mistake throwing to one of the receivers.
JG: What do you think about the criticism that the Chiefs, and Alex Smith, can not throw deep?
JT: It's pretty much accurate There are some indications that when Alex Smith does go deep he is successful relative to other quarterbacks. The problem is that he's just rarely doing that.
Last week against Denver he threw the ball deep four times, which was a change for the Chiefs. They say they're going to start attacking down the field more often so that may be something to look out for. The problem has been that that's not Alex Smith's strength and not the Chiefs receivers strength. The offensive line has also been an issue at times. All those problems together have created the situation the Chiefs are in with the deep ball.
JG: What happened with Marcus Cooper? He has seemingly been a great nickel cornerback all season long, but the Broncos had success attacking him.
JT: He's been playing on the outside lately with Brandon Flowers in the slot. I think we knew that was coming against the Broncos. When you play press coverage like the Chiefs do, you're going to give up big plays. That's what happened against Denver. It's a tall task to ask a rookie cornerback to cover Demaryius Thomas with Peyton Manning throwing to him.
Considering the expectations for Cooper were essentially non-existent a few months ago, you're not going to find a lot of people who are upset with Cooper. He can be the one you pick on but don't be surprised if he gets his hands on one. He's a big, physical corner who will challenge the receivers and hope to throw them off their route on the line of scrimmage.
JG: Eric Fisher struggled a bit early in the season. How has he progressed throughout the year?
JT: He's gotten better, yes. He actually had a few nice plays against last week against Von Miller. But mostly he's been inconsistent. He will have his hands in the wrong spot and get pushed off the line. He'll let his momentum take him out of the play. He's athletic and you can see that at times but it's really about consistency.
I'm not ready to judge him too hard because it's his first year but it's fair to say that we thought the Chiefs would get more out of their No. 1 pick. Branden Albert has been terrific this season so if you're going to come from somewhere, it's probably against Fisher.
JG: Will Dwayne Bowe play in this game? Does it matter if he doesn't?
JT: Yes he will and yes it does matter. The Chiefs have been getting him the ball more often lately so I expect that to continue.
Besides the occasional deep ball to Donnie Avery and the dump-off to Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs aren't getting much out of their receivers, so Bowe is obviously the focal point. Alex Smith doesn't stretch the field very often so Bowe's numbers have taken a hit.
Bowe is a factor and the Chargers will have to plan for him but I don't expect him to take over the game. I just hope he can convert a few third downs.
Thanks for stopping by and answering my questions, Joel!