Q:** What are the challenges facing Philip Rivers? How is he different than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?
SUTTON:"Right now I think most people would argue that he's probably playing the position as well as anybody in the league. He's right at 70% completion, hasn't been sacked very many times, hasn't turned the ball over. I think in the last two years, I really feel like this guy has gone from where you thought maybe he's leveling off to he's taking off. I think one of the things he's done a great job of in the past two seasons is he's done more taking what's available. He's such a gifted guy that in the past I think he was always waiting to see if somebody big would come open down the field, then he had to gun to get the ball down there. But now I think he sees the defense as he's doing it and he's much more comfortable dropping the ball off. I think it has made them a really efficient football team. He keeps the chains moving, he doesn't get negative yards very often. That's the real issue, the guy can make any throw, he's got a strong arm. He has a little bit of an unorthodox motion. But oh my gosh, the last two seasons he's been as accurate as anybody in the NFL."
Q: As far as you can tell, does he have as much freedom as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady to change stuff?
SUTTON:"I don't know the exact system, but Mike McCoy first came from Denver when Peyton first came so I think there's a lot of carry over there in those systems. They use a lot less no huddle than Peyton does so you don't see him orchestrate it but I think he controls at the line a lot of things, and I'm sure he has a pretty good chunk of freedom there to do what he thinks is best."
Q: So does containing him come down to what it is every week, just technique?
SUTTON:"It's going to take all 11 guys. Part of it is when a guy is throwing the routes that he's throwing, a lot of them are underneath routes, we're going to have to do a great job tackling. Because there's a lot of what we would call catch and run plays where the receivers are running across the formation. The ball may not travel very far but the potential of the play if they get outside the defense going from one side to the other. A lot of times you think of defending the field in depth, they also make you defend the field in width because of the routes they throw."
Q: What did you guys learn from facing WR Keenan Allen twice last year? What did you learn there?
SUTTON:"He's good. I think he's really developing as a receiver as far as route running and all those things that just come from experience. But he's a talented guy; he's got really good hands. Obviously the quarterback has a lot of trust in him. That's a big part of developing, if that quarterback trusts that receiver and anticipates. If we're doing our job right, if you wait to see if he's open hopefully, we can get him covered. If you can throw it before he's open that makes our job a lot harder. That's really where I think these guys are coming. That's like (Antonio) Gates and Philip, they can put blind folds I think on and throw it the way they play. They are really good at that stuff.
Q: Speaking of Gates, he can really stress a defense. What challenges does he present? Also, you might get Eric (Berry) back this game how can he figure into this game?
SUTTON:"Gates, first off, is one of those really talented receivers. And I don't mean just his physical skills, but he really knows how to run routes, he understands defenses. The chemistry between him and Rivers obviously is very good, there's a great trust factor in there. He knows how to lean, he knows what the defense is doing so he can find those open spaces and of course he does a great job of bodying you or boxing you out. Once he gets you on his shoulder it's hard to get the ball out. You just have to do a great job, and he's the kind of guy that you have to know where he is at all the time. Even if you're not involved in the double cover, you've just got to know where he is because you have to have a presence with this guy."
Q: I know this is something you put up with every week and it's up to everybody to make up for injured guys, but against this quarterback and this group of receivers, given the particular dominoes involved for you guys – is this one tricky or more delicate than normal?
SUTTON:"Anytime, like in Eric's (Berry) case, you're working the guy back in he needs a lot of reps because he hasn't been out there. And then you're always debating, who else are we going to give reps to and all those things. I think it really comes down to the reps thing and like we've said from the beginning of the week we are going to let this play out. We'd love to have everybody to be out there, that would be our dream set up and right now we've got a chance of that happening. So that for us is exciting. The point I would make from a player-coaching standpoint, you're always trying to get the reps. Everybody needs reps and we don't have a lot of reps in practice at this time of year, so that demands that. Fortunately with a guy like Berry, Eric has played so long in the league that you hope he can go in and do it. There's certain parts that you just have to get in there and play. You're never going to be quite as good until you get out there and get a number of reps. We haven't done anything really different from that stand point, we just try to move guys around and be ready. Like we always say, 'what's the contingency plan if this happens?' That really unfolds during the week by how they practice and how they play. Like we do every Friday who's the next man up and who's going to be the first guy in if that happens?"
Q: And you're comfortable with your contingency plan in this regard?
SUTTON:"Yeah, I think we actually have potentially more pieces than we had. You never know, you could have less. But potentially we have more than we had before."
Q:Who is your nickel guy if (Chris) Owens can't go?
SUTTON: "Well, that's one of those deals I wouldn't tell you who it's going to be, but as much as I'd like to you know. No, but we are working a couple of different guys in there and see. That's going to have to wait to see it, see where it is after Friday's practice."
Q: What kind of growth have you seen out of Allen Bailey?
SUTTON: "I think Allen's had a really good year and he made a big jump a year ago I thought in football and knowing what's going on. He's obviously a very gifted guy athletically. Like I say, he could play 80 plays every week and never get tired. He and (Dontari) Poe are very similar in that way, but I think where he's started it all is he's getting all of the other things, they come really just with playing and these last two years he's really played a lot of snaps. This year obviously he's playing in almost all the snaps. He's a really, I think, an exciting guy from our perspective, the arrows up I think he can take off, got really good athleticism. One thing that's really great for us, is those two inside guys, they can make a lot of plays chasing things down and that doesn't happen a lot. A lot of times you're not fortunate enough to have that kind of player. You might have a big sturdy guy in there that maybe can't make the plays outside. These two guys can chase screen plays down, wide plays and they really help your defense."
Q: I know you haven't been a part of this streak too long, but (Philip) Rivers has beaten the Chiefs six straight. Being a football guy, what is the best way to explain how that can happen?
SUTTON: "They got more points, I mean just as a football guy. No, I don't really know. That's just like anybody you haven't beaten. You have to find a way to beat them and, like we always say, a lot of times the difference in any of these games is a few plays. The hard part as a player and coach is you don't know which one of those plays is going to be 'the play' that turns the game. You can say that yeah there's a lot of plays, but every once in a while you have to make a play, finish something off, finish a drive, stop them, whatever it is and that's the case. Last year, we didn't stop them in two minutes. We had a minute and 20 something seconds to go and if we stop them on defense, then that's it. Now that didn't take it to San Diego, we didn't. My point is it happens out there just as much here and when you're playing against good players that becomes harder to do. You've got to rally up as a whole unit and really as a whole team. San Diego's a good team. I mean, they're really good. Good on offense, good on defense and we're going to have to have all parts functioning here to go out there and beat them."
Q: Speaking of the Royals, are you following them?
SUTTON: "Well, yeah I'm not really a huge baseball fan, but if you don't get into this, you better go see if it's (your heart) working right, know what I mean? They've done a great thing and I'm taking a lot of my information and using it from what I read. So, I'm trusting people like you that this is accurate. Well, just checking. My stance is this is a team effort and they're doing it with fighting through all these different things. Whether it's being down fighting to get in the playoffs, wildcard, win the wildcard, come back from however many runs and then win it in the ninth and win it again. That's a great thing and I think the other thing is that power of belief is, I think, is amazing. That's one of those things that excites me about athletics, coaching football or whatever you're doing because when you get that, it is an electrifying feeling for your whole organization. Obviously, they have that right now, I think. They feel that way. You don't really know what it is, but when you have it, it's dangerous. So, I'm excited for them, man. That's fantastic."
Q: From a coverage perspective, what kind of challenges do (Ladarius) Green and (Antonio) Gates bring?
SUTTON: "Well, you've got a lot. I mean, anytime you're dealing with multiple tight ends, you have a couple of issues. You've got run-pass issues. You've got that going on. You've got, how do you want to matchup? Do you want to play with bigger guys or smaller guys and fight through one side or the other? You either fight through the coverage aspect or fight through the run aspect and usually you kind of have to go both ways in the game to take care of both situations and not become totally predictable, but those two guys are really something. (No.) 89 (Ladarius Green), now (Antonio) Gates may have lost a step, but he gave it to 89 because 89 can run. We saw this out in Arrowhead a year ago, but he's legitimately fast. I mean, he's about as fast as any of their wide outs. Those are the, kind of, new tight ends in our league. They're presenting a lot of problems. They are like big wide outs is what they really are. Those always cause you the thought process, 'how do you want to play that'? Match it up? Those things. It presents a problem. No question."
Q: Having a guy like Demetrius Harris, does that help you out at practice?
SUTTON: "Definitely because it's hard to find the length and the speed of those guys that your players appreciate when you're throwing the ball in practice even. When you've got a guy like Demetrius, that's a huge help to us because those guys can go up and get a ball even when you're in tight coverage and sometimes as a player you saw you got that out and say 'hey you're going to have to be really tight on this guy to get this done because he can go up and body you.' That's what I think Gates has done a great job of over the year. He's just developed into the complete receiver. I think Green's on his way to doing that."
Q: What color blue jersey is Demetrius Harris wearing out here this week? 85?
SUTTON: "We've got both of them on him. We have to, by personnel; we have to switch it out there. When it's one tight end its him and some plays we have to say, this is 89 over here now and he wears 89 if that's the problem route, we know that 'hey this will be a tough route on us.' He's done a great job at giving us a look this year or this week I should say."
Q: What's missing in the two minute offense?
PEDERSON:"Well, I think the first thing, it boils down to execution. As a coaching staff, myself, we've got to make sure we have the right guys on the field in those situations, the guys that are going to make the most explosive gains for you with the ball in their hand, and then ultimately the quarterback. We have an idea what the defense is going to do so we give the quarterback sort of those good versus all type of plays and we've got to execute better. It's something we work on through training camp, we do every week in practice and it is a point of emphasis for us and we know we've got to get better at it."
Q: Was Alex Smith guilty for trying to force an interception at the end of the game at San Francisco?
PEDERSON:"Yeah, some of that will fall on the quarterback spot, some of it falls on us as coaches. I'm not going to put everything on the quarterback obviously. He knows that he's got to do the right thing with the football at that time and there was still time on the clock, we still had an opportunity to go down and score points in that situation, and ultimately the quarterback will do the right thing for you. And again, as coaches we've got to make sure our guys (are) in the right position to make those plays as well."
Q: Were you happy with the play design on the play that the interception occurred?
PEDERSON:"Yeah, it was a bunch, it was basically a four vertical route and a little bit of a switch release at the line of scrimmage. You can catch the defense in a certain coverage look, which we had, so the actual play design was okay, we just didn't execute the play."
Q: When Eric Fisher gets to the second level he likes to cut block. Is that something you encourage or do you tell him to stay on his feet a little more?
PEDERSON:"Yeah, we encourage our guys especially on the backside of blocks to cut and get the guys down on the ground. We do it in the screen game with the big O-lineman out on the perimeter. We're going to cut in those situations. Sometimes you get big offensive linemen down and around the legs of second level-linebacker or safety-level position players. It keeps their hands down and makes them have to tick their feet just a little bit, even though if you don't get him on the ground, it does make them have to go either over the top or underneath and it's something that we do encourage."
Q: What's the balance there? Do you see a big guy like Eric Fisher and want him to just punish smaller players?
PEDERSON:"Well, it just depends on where the ball is going. When the ball is away from you, then sometimes the cut block is the best. If the ball is coming to you or it reverses field and coming back to you, then yeah, you'd like to maybe stay up, especially if on a smaller defensive back, understanding that most DB's are going to go low anyway on an offensive lineman so your chances of going lower are better than staying up."
Q: As a former quarterback, what do you appreciate about Philip Rivers and how he is playing this season?
PEDERSON:"Gosh, the way he's playing right now, he's on fire. He's making great decisions; his guys are making plays for him. And being a veteran quarterback, second year in this offense with Coach (Mike) McCoy and Frank Reich and the guys on offense, they're doing a good job. And he's running the offense, the bottom line is he's running the offense, he's doing a nice job with it."
Q: Are you liking what's going on across the street? Are you seeing any of the games?
PEDERSON:"Hey, when they're on TV and we get a chance to watch, we're watching. And I think it's great, it's great for the city, it's great for the Royals. We're excited for them. Last night was awesome. We were sitting up here as a staff watching the end of that game and kind of put football on hold for a second just to see the end of the game. So we're excited for them and wish them the best of luck."
Q: How special is it to have a team play for a championship?
PEDERSON:"It's tremendous. I had an opportunity as a player in the National Football League to go to two Super Bowls and won one of those. And then as a coach in Philadelphia, we were there when the Phillies were in the World Series. Now we're here again, the Royals are in it. So we're excited for them and it's great for this city, great for the fans. And just working in this building, we've just got to make sure we beat the crowd out after the game."
Q: Is there anything you see when you watch the Royals that reminds you of your team?
PEDERSON:"Yeah, I love the way they're playing baseball right now. They're just coming to work every day, rolling their sleeves up and going at it. They don't care how they win the game, bottom line is they win the game. I see a lot of the same similarities in us as a football team and our guys come to work every day, they want to get better, it doesn't matter how you get the job done, bottom line is win the football game. No such thing as an ugly win, a win is a win no matter what level you're playing."
Q: From watching how the town has responded, how much does it make you want to bring this to the city from the Chiefs perspective?
PEDERSON:"Oh, it's everything. You want to bring that same energy. You want to bring that same level of competition to your opponent. And you feed off of that. And when you've got a team like the Royals in your city, you feed off of that as coaches and players. And you want to do things right and continue that winning success."
Q: From a coaching standpoint, does the bye week give you renewed clarity? What does it provide for you?
PEDERSON:"One, it allows you to evaluate in our case the first five ballgames, it allows you to kind of take a deep breath and take a step back and look at the big picture offensively of where you're at. Are we putting the right guys in the right positions to be successful on Sunday's? And just break it down, do a scheme evaluation of yourself and things we can improve on, things that we can continue to work on now here in the next few weeks. And then on top of that, just having a clear mind, a fresh body going in these next eleven games."
Q: Which two Super Bowls were you a part of? PEDERSON:"Beat New England in XXXI and lost to Denver in XXXII in San Diego."