In his second year, Defensive Coordinator, Bob Sutton, appears to have a better handle on the tools in which he has to work with in 2014. Last year he unleashed his defenders with blitz after blitz. However, injuries took over and what he was able to do the first half wasn’t available in the second half of the season.
That might not be the same this year. With a trio of pass rushers at his disposal, bigger corners on the outside and more beef up front, Sutton has to be loving what he’s been able to see six days into camp.
“Well right now obviously we are just putting in our base defense – both base and subs – so we haven’t gotten to any of the big personnel grouping like you talked about,” Sutton said.
“But I am sure at some point we are going to have all those guys out there. From the past, one of the things that we do is we try to – anytime you have a skill, a unique skill, whether it is cover, rush, whatever, we are going to try and find a way to use that and whether we have to create a little personnel group to do that or whatever, we are going to attempt to do that. I am sure down the road we are going to try and figure out a way to get all those guys on the field. They are all good players. Obviously it would give us the ability to rotate which is really valuable because it gives us a chance to re-gas up a little bit and get ready to go. And I really think it will be a positive thing for us.”
In other words, it’s going to happen. If he does accomplish that feat, it will give his secondary the opportunity to be even more aggressive in press coverage on the inside and in the slot. It will also give, Safety Eric Berry, more freedom to blitz and play up at the line of scrimmage.
Still the entire secondary is an issue for this team because some of the parts needed to be successful in 2014 are unproven to this point.
“Well it is so early and we haven’t even gotten through all of our installs. But I have been pleased. We haven’t had many mistakes. At this time of year, the big thing you are really trying to develop is your technique. This is so important for us to do this right now, and we are really kind of drilling down on the technique: hand placement, footwork, all those things. And those things still need a lot of work and that is what camp is for. So we have to take advantage of these reps we get. We get a lot of reps out here the way Andy (Reid) has it set up so it is really a valuable tool for us,” Sutton told reporters Sunday morning.
The key for Sutton though could be rookie cornerback/safety, Phillip Gaines. He didn’t have a strong showing at Chiefs mini-camp last month but appears to have taken a huge step forward the first week of training camp.
“Phillip has really good speed. He is going to be a lot of technique developing, no different than the other corners. But he is showing some signs out there and I think he is going to add to that backend competition,” he stated.
No mater how you slice it though Sutton has a dilemma in trusting the rookie or veteran, Sean Smith, who has spent all of camp running with the second team. It’s clear Gaines isn’t ready to play either cornerback or safety but Smith isn’t exactly showing his defensive coordinator much.
“Well I just think it was the same thing we were talking about. This is a competitive unit and I think he’s just got to keep competing. He is not far away. He has obviously played a lot of football, played very well for us. We just thought coming out of the spring, the way it shook down that the other guys were a little in front. So we went that way as we started camp. He is in the hunt and he has just got to keep working,” Sutton stated.
It is early and starting slots are hardly set in stone. However, if the pass rush can put up record numbers, the secondary should be able to do the same. So what do the cornerbacks have to do to be consistent?
“They’ve got to keep working technique, technique, technique,” he stressed.
ST Coach David Toub - “Every year we try to bring at least one whether it’s a punter, long snapper or kicker. Every year we try to bring a guy in that’s high caliber to push the guys that are here. And we certainly have one with Cairo [Santos]. I’ve said this before, I think he’s an NFL-caliber kicker. I think he’s going to be in the NFL, whether it’s on our team or on another team. The competition is real and we’re excited about Cairo and what he’s able to bring.”
S Phillip Gaines - “Just keep pushing. It gets hot out here; you run a lot of plays. Once you kind of let that mental fatigue set in, then your body’s going to go after that. You have to stay mentally strong, and like I said, keep working your technique, and you won’t be as tired. Once you let your mind go then your body’s going to go right after.”
Photos: (1) Denny Medley (Bob Sutton) / (2) Tim Heitman (Phillip Gaines)
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