PDA

View Full Version : Chiefs Babb: Chiefs’ secondary has gone through its growing pains


Tribal Warfare
06-08-2009, 01:04 AM
Chiefs’ secondary has gone through its growing pains (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/chiefs/story/1238850.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

Those young faces didn’t have much choice but to grow up quickly and do it together, and they’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t easy. But the Chiefs’ defensive backs made it through a tough 2008, and the secondary is one of the few Kansas City position groups that has made it this far into the offseason without a major overhaul.

It’s never much fun to be the new kid in town, let alone to be picked on every week. That’s what happened to the Chiefs’ young cornerbacks last year. Coaches said then that the experience would be good for them in the long run, and now that they’ve endured that rookie-year turmoil, Kansas City’s youngest position group — among the first-team group at this weekend’s minicamp, 24-year-old free safety Jarrad Page was the secondary’s oldest player — is the only unit that new coach Todd Haley’s staff didn’t shake up.

“It’s not like going out there and learning a whole bunch of guys,” Page said Sunday, “and being like: ‘I need to know how that guy plays in cover 3; I need to know what that guy does in cover 2.’ We know that stuff already.

“It helps a lot knowing all the guys coming back are the same guys — because we know how to communicate.”

Most other positions on offense and defense don’t have that luxury. The Chiefs’ linebackers and defensive linemen are in the early stages of culture shock: some defensive ends in ’08 have since become outside linebackers, and the 4-3 defensive front that once was the blueprint for Kansas City’s foundation has been scrapped in favor of the 3-4.

Second-year cornerback Brandon Flowers said this week that he couldn’t imagine going through what the rest of the defense is enduring. Offseason practices are difficult enough, he said, without having a group of strangers surrounding him in position drills. He’s not the only defensive back who’s relieved that, for the most part, the storm passed over the secondary without breaking many windows.

“We’re used to playing with each other,” Page said. “It’s real good to have that stability out there.”

Not that it has all been simple. It might not be as noticeable, but the defensive backs have been forced out of their comfort zones just like everyone else. Page said there are some differences in technique that coordinator Clancy Pendergast and defensive assistant Ronnie Bradford have emphasized. Page and second-year cornerback Brandon Carr admitted that there are habits and styles the Chiefs emphasized last year that were scrapped within Haley’s first months in Kansas City.

They might not be working alongside strangers, but the defensive backs don’t yet know everything, either.

“I wouldn’t say they’re not going through drastic changes,” Haley said. “We’re hearing from them every day: ‘That’s not the way we were taught.’ There is a lot new that they’re being taught.

“There are some subtle things at the defensive-back position … that are pretty drastic, major changes for a player who has been doing it one way for a year or two years.”

Page indicated the Chiefs could play more zone with Pendergast than under former coordinator Gunther Cunningham, and those old lessons aren’t easily forgotten.

“The whole philosophy is totally different,” Carr said. “Last year was more in-your-face, cover-2 press. This year, we can see a lot more. We play with our eyes and break on balls. We’re having to learn the schemes and route combinations all over again. Guys like this scheme. I like it. We’re ready for a change.”

The defense’s comfort, though, will depend on whether the other positions can adjust to their new surroundings, teammates and assignments to the point that they’re keeping up with the defense’s old guard — young as they still are.

Haley said he has noticed already that several defensive backs have taken charge in practices, and after last year’s difficulties on defense, the Chiefs could use all the strong voices they can get.

“We’re seeing a little leadership from that group,” Haley said of the secondary.

Page said last year’s group had no choice but to mature quickly. He said he remembers Flowers’ first game, when New England picked on Flowers and Tom Brady threw deep to Randy Moss — a cruel rite of passage for a rookie cornerback. Page remembers when Carr unseated three-time Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain, and did it so well that the Chiefs parted ways with Surtain this offseason. And Page hasn’t forgotten cornerback Maurice Leggett, the former rookie free agent who seemed to always find himself in the right place at the right time to intercept a pass or recover a fumble.

Page said it’s no surprise the secondary hasn’t been blown up. That’s one position that experienced its growing pains already.

“They got the difficult part out of the way,” Page said. “They played, and they experienced that. Already, a lot of the things we’re doing are starting to become natural.”

Coogs
06-08-2009, 08:17 AM
“I wouldn’t say they’re not going through drastic changes,” Haley said. “We’re hearing from them every day: ‘That’s not the way we were taught.’ There is a lot new that they’re being taught.

“There are some subtle things at the defensive-back position … that are pretty drastic, major changes for a player who has been doing it one way for a year or two years.”

Page indicated the Chiefs could play more zone with Pendergast than under former coordinator Gunther Cunningham, and those old lessons aren’t easily forgotten.

“The whole philosophy is totally different,” Carr said. “Last year was more in-your-face, cover-2 press. This year, we can see a lot more. We play with our eyes and break on balls. We’re having to learn the schemes and route combinations all over again. Guys like this scheme. I like it. We’re ready for a change.”

Not being a Gun fan, these four paragraphs ar music to my ears. I know with regard to the LB's, Gun had a piece in an article once a few years back that stated he taught fundamentals differently than nearly any other coach. Maybe he did the same with other areas of the defense as well. Maybe that is why Krumrine was kept as well for the front line once Pioli was done with his fact finding mission with Herm and the other coaches.

I know it is off season, and all things reported need to be taken with a grain of salt, but I really think we are going the right direction.

Print 'em baby! AFC West Champs!