View Full Version : Chiefs Babb: Top pick Jackson, Chiefs defense have some catching up to do

Tribal Warfare
08-16-2009, 10:00 PM
Top pick Jackson, Chiefs defense have some catching up to do (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/chiefs/story/1387184.html)
The Kansas City Star

Tyson Jackson didn’t make excuses, and he didn’t stretch the truth. He admitted Saturday night that he’s behind, and because of that and other factors, the Chiefs’ defense might be behind, too.

Kansas City’s top draft pick this year, a rookie defensive end who’s expected to become a cornerstone of the team’s shift to the 3-4 defensive front, said his missed week of training camp has cost him.

“I’ve still got a long way to go,” Jackson said.

Jackson, this year’s No. 3 overall pick, said he’s no more than 40 percent comfortable or ready to meet the Chiefs’ high expectations. He said the only cure for the time he missed, which occurred while his five-year contract was being finalized, is more time. More time with his teammates and coaches, and more nights studying Kansas City’s playbook.

Jackson admitted that his rough edges need plenty of smoothing. His technique, he said, is raw. His footwork, he said, is unpolished.

“I haven’t played football in such a long time,” the former LSU star said Saturday.

Jackson participated in the Chiefs’ offseason workouts, but Saturday was his first game since LSU’s bowl game in January. He said that if he is to make up for some of the lost time by Friday, when Kansas City visits Minnesota for its second preseason game, he’ll need to maximize each of the Chiefs’ final days of training camp. The team’s final session in River Falls, Wis., is Thursday.

“Anything is possible,” Jackson said.

He showed glimpses Saturday of what the Chiefs saw in him before the draft: a powerful, quick pass rusher and a thick, intimidating run stopper. Jackson assisted on a sack of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub on Kansas City’s first defensive series, and he never seemed overmatched by the Texans’ offensive line.

The Chiefs showed glimpses, too, of what could be a solid defense. That first series, when Houston went three-and-out and cornerback Maurice Leggett drilled Schaub for an 11-yard loss to force a punt, showed the Chiefs’ potential. Houston’s next possession, when it drove 94 yards for a touchdown, showed that the team has plenty to work on during this final week before returning to Kansas City. That point was drilled home when Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers forced running back Chris Brown to fumble after a long gain but rookie end Alex Magee tried to tackle Brown from behind and was whistled for a 15-yard penalty for a horse-collar tackle.

“We’ve just got to correct our mental errors,” second-year end Glenn Dorsey said. “It’s not anything that can’t be fixed.”

Dorsey said that process would begin with a film session and then the identification of the Chiefs’ mistakes. Then, Dorsey suspected, a week of grueling practices.

Coach Todd Haley has burned lots of training camp time trying to convince the Chiefs that mental miscues won’t be tolerated. Haley also has made it clear that players will be held accountable for knowing their assignments and following coaches’ instructions. Saturday, though, gave the first-time head coach a new checklist of concerns.

“A couple of runs looked like we didn’t fit quite right,” Haley said of the defense.

That might not be the only problem the Chiefs’ defense faces. Strong safety Bernard Pollard indicated the unit did what could pinch Haley’s patience like nothing else.

“We could probably play harder,” Pollard said.

Pollard said it wasn’t so much a question of effort, but rather of focus and the knowledge that starters’ playing time Saturday would be limited. The first team played nearly two full quarters, at times with a mix of backups, and Pollard said the starters might be more comfortable Friday, knowing they might not be relieved until halftime.

In all, Pollard said, Saturday’s disappointing performance proved the Chiefs have plenty to work on.

“Play smarter, don’t give up some penalties,” he said. “Not so much think about it the whole game, because when you think and try to play ball, you can’t play fast. We need to just go play ball, have fun and compete.”

As if the Chiefs don’t have enough to do.

“We just have to keep pressing,” Jackson said, “and try to get better.”