Chiefs Mailbag: How do Defenses Prepare for Chiefs?

You asked, I answer.

Tim from Redding: With Coach Reid having De'Anthony Thomas get more reps, how do defenses prepare for so many weapons?

Any time Thomas is on the field, defensive coordinators have to account for where he is and the particular formation the Chiefs are in with him out there.

The Chiefs have used him in a variety of ways and the jet-sweep action they're doing with him coming around before the snap, it's causing defensive players to hesitate for a half-count before they make their move.

That half-count might be the difference between an offensive linemen getting around a defensive player to seal him off on a running lane for Jamaal Charles going the other direction.

The Chiefs have a lot of speed on offense in playmaking positions and that causes issues for opposing defenses. Most defenses are constructed not just to take certain things away, but also to allow for certain things because every defense has a weakness. 

It's Reid, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and quarterback Alex Smith's responsibility to try and find each of those weaknesses on any given play. 

That's the chess match coaches and players play during the game

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Albert from Cainsville: Where does the responsibility fall on the struggles against the run?

Everyone.

There isn't a player or coach on the defensive staff that doesn't take responsibility for any of the struggles on the field for the Chiefs. That's not a line either; it's just the way they operate.

The coaches will take responsibility for putting the players in bad situations, and the players will take responsibility for not executing the specific defense and call that's made.

Sometimes it's as simple as an offense going three-wide and taking advantage of fewer guys in the box and then it becomes just a numbers game. Other times it's linebackers over pursuing or defensive linemen getting washed out of the play.

But the bottom line is that the Chiefs have the No. 8 defense in the NFL in total yards and the No. 2 scoring defense. Teams haven't been that successful at putting points on the board against the Chiefs defense, so when it's needed to buckle down and stop the run, they've done that over the course of this season.  

Ken from Lebanon: All of Denver's losses have involved pressure on Peyton Manning and turnovers, how do we do these things?

It's kind of surprising to look at the Pro Football Focus analytics this season for Peyton Manning against the blitz, where he's normally hurt teams over his career.

But he's completing just 57 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions against the blitz compared to 72 percent with 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions when teams send four players or less. Manning has only been sacked 12 times this season, which is fewest in the NFL. I think the most important thing for the Chiefs is to dictate how quickly he gets rid of the football and where the coverage is going.

If Chiefs send pressure, the guys on the back end of the defense need to be ready to step up and make a tackle in space as you know the ball is coming out quickly. Consequently, the guys coming on the pressure need to get to Manning because if he has time to survey the field, he's going to find the weak spot of the defense.

Photos from the Chiefs Week 12 matchup against the Raiders

Dave from Joplin: Do you agree that by not throwing deep we're essentially saying opponent linebackers and safeties are better than our receivers?

I think it's Andy Reid saying he's going to run the offense he's used to running and the one they've installed since he arrived in Kansas City.

On a very basic level, the West Coast offense is about spreading defenses horizontally and not vertically. That's been the mantra of this offense since Bill Walsh and the old 49ers teams made it famous with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

It has nothing to do with linebackers and opposing safeties. The Chiefs are going to run the plays within their scheme that Reid believes gives them the best chance to move the ball down the field and put points on the board, which doesn't mean abandoning everything they've worked on to this point.

Now Reid's offense has a lot of variations to the West Coast system, but you're not all of the sudden going to see an "Air Coryell" down-the-field attack from the Chiefs offense. 

It's important to take shots down the field every once in a while so defenses stay honest on the back end, but the bread and butter of this passing game are short, quick crossing routes and screens, scissor routes, floods and outs.

Jeff from St. Charles: How will the loss of Eric Berry affect this team?

This goes beyond football and obviously Berry has been a fantastic football player for the Chiefs.

But it's hard to believe this team won't rally around and behind Berry for the rest of the season. It's just the nature of the way this team is constructed.

Many teams can throw around the term "family" as some sort of a headline or rallying cry, but from personal experience, this team is VERY close and Berry's spirit will be with them on every play for the rest of the season.

On the field, Berry had missed some games with a foot injury earlier this season so the defense has had to deal without Berry before. This simply means there aren't players stepping into roles they haven't played already this season.  But without a doubt, this defense will be playing for Berry the rest of the season.

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