A NEW CHIEFS DEFENSE?
The Chiefs ended last season with the NFL’s 13th ranked defense, their highest ranking since 1998. Over the last four seasons, the Chiefs have improved their overall defensive ranking at an average of six slots per year, so would they dare jump off the Cover Two gravy train?
Well, they may not be totally jumping off the train, but simply adding another car to it. It’s the man-to-man car.
“Will we play more man-to-man this year? We’d like to,” said Head Coach Herm Edwards. “We'll just see if we can get it done.”
In a press conference after this evening's practice, Edwards dispelled the myth that he is strictly a Cover Two coach.
“Well if you look at my history, my first coaching job was here,” he said. “I think the last time I checked, we were a man-to-man team. I had Albert Lewis, Dale Carter, Kevin Ross, Jayice Pearson. We played man-to-man. I was brought up coaching man-to-man, believe it or not. Now you go to Tampa, and you get labeled as a Cover Two guy. I'm just a football coach.”
The NFL often goes through cycles of buzz words, the “Tampa Two” and the “West Coast” offense being a couple prime examples. During the 2005 NFL Draft, there was a lot of talk about “hybrids,” a term often used to refer to players like Demarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman, players who can put their hands on the ground as a defensive end and play standing up as a linebacker.
These “hybrids” were especially coveted in the 3-4 defensive scheme. In the 4-3, they would probably be classified as “tweeners.” I remember discussing the draft with someone who said the Chiefs didn't need Derrick Johnson, but rather, a “hybrid,” when the team ran the 4-3 at the time.
I just find it funny when people hear a term on NFL Live and use it in places where it doesn't necessarily apply or make sense. A lot of people slapped the title of a “Cover Two” coach on Herm Edwards, and a lot of people call Chan Gailey's offense “simple.”
No NFL coach uses only one defense, and no NFL offense is simple. Sometimes people get a little too carried away with labels.
“We have the ability with some guys that we think we can play more man to man, and we'll do that” said Edwards. “We played a lot of man to man in Tampa too, believe it or no. I basically like to play man to man.”
So what are some of the advantages to playing more man-to-man?
“It's a way to put pressure on the quarterback, it's a way of taking away a lot of routes from receivers, it's a way of being aggressive,” explained Herm. “I like being aggressive.”
What are some of the advantages of playing the cover two?
“It's a way of keeping the ball in front of you,” said Edwards. “It's a way of playing disciplined defense, tough defense. It's a way of knocking the heck out of the offense and then catching the ball. That's kind of important too. There's different ways you do it.”
HERM'S TAKE ON GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM, LINEBACKERS COACH
“Obviously, there's more on (Gunther's) plate, and I think he's relishing it. I mean he really enjoys coaching position, and that's what you find when you become a coordinator or ahead coach, your inability really to coach again. You don't have enough time because you're always doing something else, but he's found the time to do both.”
“It's unique, but I think it's something that will help us in the long run. He's enjoying it, and the great thing about it now, is when you're the coordinator and you coach, it's easy to be the coordinator and say 'why is this guy not doing that why is that guy not doing that.' Especially the position coaches, so now they can look back at him and say 'why is your guys not doing this.' He's having fun with it, his players respect him, and he's a heck of a football coach.”
IS THE OFFENSIVE LINE COMPETITION AN OPEN ONE?
Today, Herm Edwards talked about wanting to keep the current offensive line together at least until preseason began.
“As it gets going, obviously, if somebody is playing well, we’ll give him a chance to work with those guys, but we'd like that unit to stay together and practice together,” he said. “Our inability to do that the last two years I think has hurt us. Hurt our run game especially, because when you look at our practice in the past, those guys never really practiced together in training camp. We were either hurt or something happened to a guy. We were never together, so far they've been together, knock on wood, they can continue to practice together and play together in the preseason.”
The current starting offensive line has been together since the beginning of OTAs. Cohesion is definitely a key to the success of an offensive line, but so is talent. It's still early, but right guard Adrian Jones has been getting his butt whipped in the individual pass rushing drills thus far.
It's only one facet of the game, but it's an important one. You've got to think that if there's a time to put someone in and give them an opportunity to become a starter, now is the time. That way, the new guy can gel with the players around him. The jury's still out on Jones and the rest of the line, but it seems like that’s the only unit that doesn't have an open competition.
Edwin Harrison might deserve a jump up the depth chart. He's listed as a guard, but is playing with the third team at left tackle. At least, he deserves a shot with the second team at right tackle, where Barry Richardson has been really struggling, or perhaps right guard with the starters.
My wishes are unlikely to come true, but Harrison has played guard in the past. That's another issue I'm struggling with - why are the Chiefs changing so many players’ positions? They aren’t just moving people from right to left, they’re moving them from tackle to guard and vice versa. Only one member of the current starting offensive line is playing the same position they did a year ago.