View Full Version : RAND: New defenders will help more than you know

04-26-2005, 08:54 AM
RAND: New defenders will help more than you know
Apr 26, 2005, 8:33:14 AM by Jonathan Rand

Allow me to be about the 25th person to publicly say the Chiefs took just the right approach in last weekend’s draft.

They boosted their defense on the first day by acquiring players who should be able to start this year, and used the second day to fill needs down the road. The big question, of course, is whether their new players can accomplish what the Chiefs expect.

Any team would be better off drafting Pro Bowlers at positions where they don’t need help than drafting busts at positions where they need plenty of help. At least the Chiefs have a known quantity in Patrick Surtain, a Pro Bowl cornerback who was acquired for a second-round pick.

It’s a safe guess that first-round pick Derrick Johnson will be given a good chance to start at outside linebacker and that third-round pick Dustin Colquitt will get every chance to become the punter. The Chiefs defense has to be much improved when you combine the weekend additions with the free-agent signings of linebacker Kendrell Bell, safety Sammy Knight and end Carlos Hall.

The Chiefs’ defense is vastly improved at three starting spots and you can make that four if Johnson develops like a first-round pick. But there’s more to measuring improvement on defense than just comparing depth charts from 2004 to 2005.

The newcomers not only will improve the defense with their individual skills, but they should also make returning players better. A primary definition of an impact player is someone who elevates the players around him.

He does that by ratcheting up the level of competition on the practice field. He does that by being so effective in his area that he takes pressure off another area. And he makes big plays that may allow blunders by teammates to go unnoticed by 80,000 people.

A wise old football coach – no doubt an offensive coordinator – once claimed that a successful offensive play requires 11 players executing flawlessly while a defensive play can succeed if 10 players mess up but the 11th makes a great play. This is an exaggeration, of course, but there’s more than a grain of truth to it.

Pass rushers can get frozen by play action but an alert cornerback can still break up the play. A defense can get fooled by misdirection but get bailed out by one speedster going sideline to sideline to make the tackle. And the more playmakers you have on defense, the less likely it becomes that 10 other guys are going to make a mistake.

Impact players can make average teammates at times look like stars. A pass rusher struggling to get by a Pro Bowl blocker may suddenly look like Derrick Thomas if Surtain’s coverage forces the passer to hold the ball an extra second. Run stoppers will look a lot better if Bell makes a crunching tackle after they’ve neutralized their blockers. If the middle linebacker misses the ball carrier, the work up front gets ignored.

If Surtain and Eric Warfield have their men blanketed on obvious passing downs, one of the cornerbacks who struggled last year could suddenly become a ball-hawking nickel back. O.K., maybe that’s going a bit too far. But you get the point.

Aggressiveness and confidence are critical for any strong defense. Everybody becomes feistier and more confident when they trust the players behind or in front of them.

Except for sacks and turnovers, nothing helps a defense more than good field position. If Colquitt can build on his accomplishments at Tennessee, just having a reliable punter will improve the Chiefs’ defense.

If these new players live up to their billing, the Chiefs’ defense will be more improved than you expect. Impact players always make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

04-26-2005, 08:59 AM
Alot of truth to this article, it's been this way for years upon years.

Good to see that Rand is finally getting it down.

04-26-2005, 09:02 AM
All I want to see is KC blow up that fugging QB rollout play that Denver uses about 23 times a game against KC. If this talent can do that, then Im all good.

04-26-2005, 09:02 AM
Good article.

Chief Henry
04-26-2005, 09:10 AM
All I want to see is KC blow up that fugging QB rollout play that Denver uses about 23 times a game against KC. If this talent can do that, then Im all good.