Photo: John Rieger USA TODAY Sports
Of all the free agent moves the Kansas City Chiefs made this offseason, none was bigger than the acquisition of cornerback, Sean Smith. On Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers, we saw first hand the impact he will make on KC’s defense.
Though the outcome of Friday nights contest against the 49ers wasn’t to the liking of anyone, there were flashes of legitimacy to this football team. First the special teams appears lights out and ready to go and the defense, though it had an issue on the first play from scrimmage, held their own against the 49ers offensive attack.
As far as the offense, we’ll let that topic rest for a day or two.
Still if the Chiefs are going to rise to the level of wild card contender it might be their defense that shows the way. And one player, Cornerback Sean Smith, understands that as well.
Smith came to the Chiefs because he felt that this defense with a plethora of pro bowl players attached, had the makings of a championship team. And with the new coaching staff, fresh attitude, he left the Miami Dolphins for greener pastures in Kansas City.
When the regular season starts Smith and fellow cornerback, Brandon Flowers, might be the best tandem in the AFC West but before yours truly gets too far ahead of the curve, this defense still has to shore things up in the final two exhibition games.
And in the regular season, which begins three weeks from today, they can’t allow a team to hit a triple on the first play from scrimmage like the 49ers did with Frank Gore’s long run.
“I think guys were built up and had a whole lot of energy. We took a bad pursuit. Everybody was flying to the ball and we kind of over-pursued on the cutback alley.” Smith said about Gore’s run.
”You have to give credit to him, (San Francisco running back) Frank Gore is a high-caliber running back in the league, he showed great vision and awareness and cut it back. It was a good play on him.”
Good running backs cut back all the time and the Chiefs defense is aware of that and eventually those weak side instincts to prevent those long runs can be corrected.
But one thing you can’t overlook is the fact the Chiefs did lose their second preseason game. That means there is much to be accomplished in the three weeks leading up to the regular season opener against Jacksonville.
That means it’s time to knuckle down.
“You just don’t want to settle. I understand we had a pretty good day – or a half for the first string defense – but you can’t be complacent. There is always work to get done. I know from the outside looking in, it probably looked great, but when you watch the film and start grading it, it’s all about the small things. We’ll get back, watch film and see what kinds of corrections we can make,” Smith said.
For my money, Smith is one of those rare cornerbacks that has size, speed and enormous talent. In fact, why the Dolphins didn’t make a bigger play for him is a bit of a mystery. He’s one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL and his leadership thus far in camp is something that has impressed everyone.
So did he think the Chiefs defense made any progress Friday night?
”Definitely; coming into it, we knew San Francisco was a very physical team with a whole lot of great players,” he said after the game.
”We knew it was going to be a big test for us, especially up front with the big guys. I think our guys did a very good job taking care of business up front and making things easy for us in the back end.”
And with Smith in the secondary that back end looks strong for the Chiefs, Sure there were some first team breakdowns but overall, despite the fact 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, played very little, San Francisco has a high powered offense.
Nonetheless, Smith had a key pass deflection in first quarter and an interception in the second half that gave the first team defensive effort good marks overall.
So what lies ahead? Well one thing that should help the players is the fact they won’t have the grind of training camp anymore. They get to get comfortable working at Arrowhead again and driving into practice from their homes.
That may not sound like a big deal to most of us but I’m not sure everyone understands the restricted and regimented environment that rules an NFL training camp. So now with that in the rear view mirror this entire team, Smith included, can look ahead to better success.
“This team is going in the right direction. We got some good things done today, but we still have a lot of work to get done. Even though we aren’t in St. Joe anymore, we get a chance to come back home and sleep in our own beds.”
Just maybe all the Chiefs need is a good nights sleep to shake off the rust of two losses to start the exhibition portion of the 2013 season.
Rested or not the team is headed back to practice on Sunday to get ready for next weeks showdown in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
My guess is next Saturday night we’re going to see a different Chiefs team than the one that lined up against the Saints and 49ers.
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How big will the addition of Sean Smith be to KC's defense?
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