Coordinators' Press Conferences 12/4

OC Doug Pederson, DC Bob Sutton and STC Dave Toub address the media as the Chiefs prepare to face the Cardinals in Week 14

Doug Pederson

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Q: What is (Anthony) Fasano in the red zone? He's kind of got a perfect batting average these last three or four games. Why is he so good in those situations?

PEDERSON: "First of all, he's a smart route runner; he understands the scheme, the concept of what we're trying to get done. He understands the coverage and his past. He's been a good red zone route runner. It's sort of that security blanket for Alex (Smith) to be able to look for those big guys in and around and over the ball."

Q: Why is Jamaal Charles about 80 touches below his usual this season?

PEDERSON: "I guess we're not giving him the ball enough. The thing is too that we're using more (running) backs. We've used him more as a receiver."

Q: His receptions are down about 30.

PEDERSON: "Yeah they're down too. They're down too. These last couple of games we've gotten in situations where we've gotten behind when you play catch up. You end up throwing the ball. Touches are going to go down to some of your key guys and that has something to do with not getting him the ball."

Q: Not that people weren't paying attention to him earlier, but are they doing different things defensively to kind of figure out what he is and what he does."

PEDERSON: "Not really. I mean teams still blitz his alignment and try to hold him in protection. They know 25. He is one of our better offensive players so when you can eliminate your best player then there's an advantage on defense. Teams know that going in and Jamaal knows that. Each week he's got to come ready to play and, again, we as a staff and me as a coordinator, I have to allow him to touch the football as often as we can."

Q: You mentioned a couple of weeks ago that you get caught up and forget that he's down there. How do you do a better job of not forgetting?

PEDERSON: "Well, it's all based on the personnel on your call sheet. How you set things up in certain situations. Who do you want to focus on? Each week when you game plan, you look at your top four or five assets on offense and you try to put a plan together that would benefit those four or five guys. He's part of that group and each week you've only got one football, at the same time we also know that defenses are scheming him up just a little bit and when they do that then hopefully Alex understands that and finds another one of those targets."

Q: The offensive line has had some really good performances this year, but you've also had some performances like you had against Denver. Why do you think the shift from when they do well to they're not doing so well is so drastic?

PEDERSON: "I think a lot of times with those guys, I say it every week or every couple of weeks, everything starts up front with Rodney (Hudson) and the communication. It's a matter of those guys understanding either the run or the protection at that particular time. It comes through your film study during the week and it comes through understanding the leverage of the defensive line, linebackers, safeties, corners and kind of anticipating a move. Our guys this past week, it was just 58 (Von Miller) and 94 (Terrance Knighton) are all pro pass rushers and those are dominant forces. They have done a good job. We expect them to bounce back this week and get right back on point."

Q: What do you look at that you can do against Arizona?

PEDERSON: "One thing that Arizona does that other teams maybe don't do is they're going to line up five guys. Their hands are in the dirt and rush the passer and play their game. It becomes one on one matchups this week with your offensive line and they have to be sharp with that and then they have to pass off the games. It's not different really each week. This is a good group on defense. It's another good pass rushing group. We've had our share of good fronts the last four, five or six weeks. Our guys will bounce back. They're professionals. They take their job with pride and anybody does. They'll bounce back and do fine."

Q:  Alex had that late hit on him. 20 years ago, back when you were playing…

PEDERSON: "Easy. 2004."

Q: The game was different then. Would that have provoked a more obvious response or was it always game situation?

PEDERSON: "In 1999, or '98, '99 actually. No I'm sorry '98. I broke my jaw on Monday Night Football against the Vikings and I broke my jaw. It was a helmet to helmet deal, left side. The DB (defensive back) got fined. From that standpoint, the fact that they're protecting the quarterback, those things usually get flagged. Back then maybe they don't get flagged as much back then, but now protecting the quarterback as much as they do in the pocket with moving their hands or helmet to helmet or whatever to the face area, to the head area. I think it's a little more brought to light so to speak now than it was 10 years ago."

Q: When the DB broke your jaw, were there any guys on the team that got mad?

PEDERSON: "Well they didn't know. They didn't know until after the game."

Q: How do you react? How do they decide when to get a guy back or if to get a guy back? What does it come down to?

PEDERSON: "I don't think there is anything about getting a guy back, but I think guys understand that they took a shot on our quarterback, let's just come back and play football and not let that happen again. Again, it goes back to guys being prideful and protecting the quarterback. There's nobody out there saying, 'hey we've got to get so and so' or anything like that. There's none of that going on."

Q: You were talking about Jamaal earlier because the conditions of the games, things kind of got away from him. How do you ever get away from him considering his skills in the passing and running game? There shouldn't be anything taken away from him.

PEDERSON: "The only thing that gets you away from him is the defense. If they're going to blitz him which teams have done, it keeps him in and it takes him out of that particular play in that particular time. Where we do a better job is we use different protections, we line him up in different spots. 13 (De'Anthony Thomas) becomes a little more important in certain types of situations to free up Jamaal. Kind of the things you saw earlier in the season, kind of in mid-season there where Jamaal was getting all those touches. Those are the things we have to get back to."

Q: With Jamaal, he's your best blocker as far as picking up the blitz. He's shown that for the last couple of years. When you're facing a team like Denver that shows you a lot of extra people coming. Does that make you a little weary of taking him out of the backfield and putting him split or wide?

PEDERSON: "It does. You definitely want to utilize his ability out of the pocket as well. Then again it puts the emphasis back on Knile Davis or Charcandrick West, the guys that are taking that spot. Could be a tight end in there or Sherm (Anthony Sherman). You kind of give up something to get something and the number one thing in any passing game is your protection and then protecting your A and B gaps. Like you said, he's a very good pass, blocking (running) back. We've got to utilize that when we can." 

Q: Are you ever surprised when you look at the snap count sheet after the game and see that you used a guy more than you anticipated or a guy less than you thought?

PEDERSON:"Yeah, you look at that stat sheet and you look at the targets and the number of touches that guys get and then you go back and kind of replay the game in your mind. You're going to go back and say, 'Oh, I wish I would have done this or I wish I would have done that, or more of this or less of that,' after the game, win or lose. But yeah, you take a look at that and you go, 'You know what, we should have given Dwayne two more targets, or given Jamaal two more or three more touches in a certain situation.' But again, as the game unfolds, it sort of dictates how you spread the ball around and it's unfortunate that sometimes guy's touches are sometimes going to go down or up based on game situation."

Q: What did you think of Jason Avant's debut and Donnie Avery in his return to the lineup?

PEDERSON:"I thought they did a nice job. Donnie, just getting back in there and shaking a little bit of the rust off for him and getting back into that game mode, I thought he did a good job for what we asked him to do. And Jason, just a savvy veteran guy that is familiar and comfortable with the things we are doing offensively. He wasn't in there a ton but when he was in there, he was effective and had a couple of catches. So we expect better things again this week."

Q: How will the addition of Richard Gordon help you offensively?

PEDERSON:"Well, I think a guy like Richard – again, a veteran guy, he's a smart guy, he's been in our system here recently. It will allow us to get into our three tight end set a little bit. We've used Anthony Sherman a little bit in that situation. The more he gets comfortable and the more he hears our offense again, the more we can get him in the ballgame."

Bob Sutton

Q: Dontari Poe didn't have one of his better games on Sunday night. Are you rethinking about playing him so many snaps?

SUTTON:"Yeah, we probably should rotate a little more in there but there were a lot of things happening in that game. We didn't do a good job getting off the field in the first half on third down and that puts us in a little different situation. The way the game is going is important too. As you well know we've got to get them stopped, we've got to get some plays. But looking back on it, we probably could've rotated a little more in there."

Q: Do you think Poe is wearing down?

SUTTON:"No."

Q: Why such a disparity with how good your defense is against the pass and how much it struggles against the run?

SUTTON:"There are a lot of factors in there and a lot of things happen in games. For one, you have to look at a total game, both sides of the ball of what is happening. I remember Denver's 45 rushes, Oakland's 31 or 32 and I think Seattle was 35 or 37 – I can't remember the exact number. So you have some factors in there that are going to happen and just like any of these games – Denver you're defending a lot of different elements in here that are going on. So one of the key parts of when you play a Denver and they're making you play honest, you've got to play both run and pass equally. Then one of the key elements is just what I mentioned. You have got to get off on third down. And we had them from our standpoint in some great third down situations in the first half. They weren't all third and two's, third and three's; they were third and six, third and eight. They had very few above third and six's going into our game and I think in our game we had – I'm going to throw a number out there – maybe seven or eight that were eight yards or greater. So to me, if you want to help your run defense, get off the field, don't stay out there. Because every time you stay out there, then the sequence starts over: first down, second down, whatever, that's when you can run. It takes a lot of that and that's not to say – which we know – we've got to improve our technique first and foremost. That's the key element in it. The second thing we've got to do is we've got to keep emphasizing our tackling. So those are all big things that have got to happen that are not really sexy, but it's the truth. That's how you get better at all this stuff. I don't care whether you're covering or whatever. You've got to do it with your technique and that's how you've got to play this game. The tackling, what it does, it just increases the yards and maybe instead of it being second down and six or second and seven, now it's second and three or third and three or third and two, whatever it is. So that all plays a huge factor in it."

Q: Tamba Hali said something yesterday about guys being more focused on rushing the passer than stopping the run. Are you finding that to be true?

SUTTON:"Not the ones that I'm concerned about. I wish it was that simple. We could solve that problem easy. That happens sometimes on a down and distance or a formation that will say to you, 'hey, go rush the passer more.' And you want to be able to do that. You don't want to be held to your call every play if you've got indicators that are saying otherwise. That's why you do all of your scouting reports, why the players do all their film study, all those things so you want to be aware of that. But I really think like I said, I wish it was the other way. Now if it's anything else from an emphasis standpoint then yeah, we need to emphasize it just like I said the technique part of it better."

Q: You had a season-high 15 missed tackles Sunday night. Can you explain why the quality of tackling can fluctuate?

SUTTON:"Well I think there are several factors. One, the more stout you are up front, the less the ball comes through fast. And when it doesn't come through fast, usually you get in pretty good position to tackle. Sometimes when a ball hits a crack in there and hits into the second level, then people are just barely coming off a block and you've got to make a play. Because to me, tackling is always about knowing how to enter a tackle. So you're trying to judge where the ball-carrier is, what kind of speed he has for a receiver, whoever it may be, and then how I am going to enter this tackle because if I don't enter it properly, I'm going to have a hard time tackling. The second part is understanding where is my help at when I tackle because I don't want to be in many situations where it is just me. I want to know can I use the sideline, can I use my next guy coming in here? And I've got to be able to process all of that information that is happening as a play comes out. That's why I say the stronger the wall is up front and the longer it takes to get to that level, I think the easier it is for the second level players – the linebackers, and DB's – to know how to fit those tackles up properly."

Q: Working on the technique, working on the tackling, is that a small part of the reason why you guys went full pads this on Wednesday?

SUTTON:"Yeah, we were really into the technique part of it. We don't tackle live, not in practice. We never tackle; I don't think anybody in the league does. We just don't have enough players to do that. But you can come and do everything else but tackle and that's the challenge, I think, for any player. This part doesn't matter whether you're in pads or not, to put yourself in a position that when you watch that video that you know I could've made that play. Not like the flybys or the reach out, no. You've got to get your knees bent, you've got to get into a position that you can demonstrate, most importantly of all to yourself that I'm in position. Each of these are, to me, you're acquiring knowledge of how to make these plays. The more you play the better you should be and that's why you should take advantage. I talk to our scout team guys all the time about the same thing, 'hey, this is your chance to improve yourself right here. Don't let it go away. You have to do whatever the card says but when that ball comes out just finish. Let us see what you can do.'"

Q: Was it easier to learn and get better at gap discipline when you guys could hit more than now?

SUTTON:"Yeah but if that would be the case then everybody would not be as good as they'd like to be in run defense. There are some teams that are playing pretty good run defense and they are under the same rules we are under. So I don't really look at it that way. Obviously, any defensive coach would love more contact. These are the rules, these are what we are playing and there is no reason we can't be better in run defense with these rules, they are fine."

Q: It seemed like against Denver that their offensive line was able to get to the next level and cut off your linebackers so there wasn't any help, for a guy who maybe had a spot there was nobody coming around it. Was that a problem?

SUTTON:"Yeah, anytime you're playing zone teams they're going to have ability to get to that next level. You try to slow them down but most people will tell you that if you want to go flat enough in a zone scheme it's going to be for a d-linemen to keep an offensive linemen off a linebacker. You just physically can't do it because the worst thing you can do is be a lateral playing team. You don't want to be a lateral playing team you want to be a penetrating team and you want to come across through a man. I think that's it and as a linebacker I have to know how to deal with blockers. I have to be able to get off blocks just like a d-lineman does, I have to be able to stun him, be able to use my hands, escape and go like that. It's a combination of all those things if it was just one thing it'd probably be a lot easier to address and fix. I think our guys know its technique, you have to bear-down and work on your technique and fundamentals every day. The challenge, like you're talking about, is when you don't have pads you can't let your technique suffer because it will suffer. It's not the same, when a guy has pads you know he's coming off and getting you. You know when there's no pads he can't come off as hard.  Like we say, 'we've got to set the tempo on defense.' That initial part of the charge has to be exactly the same. Our hand placement has to be the same and all that we've got to be able to do. That's how it is in the NFL. I've been on good run defensive teams and we practice the same way and had the same rules. So you have to improve you're technique, there's no escaping that. That's just the truth of it and we've got to do it. Tackling and get your tail off the field on third down will help you or help all the causes."

Q: How is Joe Mays doing?

SUTTON:"He's close, he's pretty close."

Q: Is Dee Ford making progress?

SUTTON:"Yeah, he's getting better. He's had two really good weeks of practice and I think we all have high hopes for him. I think he is pointing in the right direction right now."

Q: He's had two good weeks of practice, like play recognition and run recognition?

SUTTON:"Yeah and all the things of practice, whether it's run or rush. I think he's made a significant improvement the last couple weeks."

Q: What does Arizona do offensively? (Larry) Fitzgerald is pretty banged up and they may be without (Andre) Ellington. What do you have to worry about?

SUTTON:"Well, I'm willing to bet that Ellington is there, I think he's going to play and I bet Fitzgerald is playing. They haven't changed what they do since coach has been at Pittsburgh, when he was at Indy. They are going to run their same offense and they are going to plug a guy in no matter what they are doing there. They have not changed a bit in run/pass percentages when Carson (Palmer) went out with his injury. I don't think there's going to be a big change philosophically or in approach of what they do. They have their staples that he's had every place he's been. I don't think he's the kind of guy that just chucks them out of the window.  He's going to keep going and he has a strong believe in what he does and the way he approaches offensive football. Bruce has been very successful as an offensive coach wherever he's been. I don't think it will be, so we are right back in the same thing. They have some really good receivers, they have a couple different tight ends that play there. The back is a legitimate guy, if he plays and he's healthy, because he's a real threat in the passing game and he's a really good running back. I just see them moving like most of these teams. When they have a system, they plug a guy in and they roll."

Q: C.J. Anderson is not a household name but how many of the issues from Sunday are from what Denver does and how good Anderson looks to be.

SUTTON:"Well, I think C.J. Anderson is a good back. Those are hard to quantify what causes what, but one of the things when you're dealing with Denver like I say, 'your focus is pretty wide'. There are a lot of issues going on at once out there. He's just one of many parts that you have to address and deal with. So I'd probably say a combination of all those things."

Dave Toub

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Q: The fake punt has gotten you twice this year, what is happening there?

TOUB:"Well, we had a couple guys out of position in the last game. In those situations we are going to double the gunners. We are a return team so we take a little bit more risk than other teams do. We don't put a lot of guys in the box. I could probably help the guys out a little bit, in situations where we think there is going to be a fake, by putting more guys inside the box. But we try to push the return game and we double the gunners, we have six guys in the box and they ran a sweep on us. They got us, we could do a better job at tackling and getting there and noticing it."

Q: That followed a punt.

TOUB:"Yeah it followed a punt, it was fourth-and-eight as well, it was a gutsy call. I think it was an automatic that they had, I'm not sure the coach called it from the sideline. I mean, I'm guessing. I'm assuming it was just a look and they go with it. Those things happen sometimes."

Q: What determines who is returning kickoffs? 

TOUB:"Situations, I also have designed returns for each individual guy. So if we want to call one return it's going to be that returner. Between those two, I don't really have a starter or a second team guy. I think they are both equally as dangerous and at any time we could use any one of them."

Q: How's De'Anthony Thomas on the punt return? Do you like what you are seeing from him?

TOUB:"Yeah, he's still our starter as he was last week. We just didn't get a lot of opportunities last week, the kick went out of bounds, he was mishitting balls and the ball hit us in the back, it was a bad punt. Just bad luck on that one. But he's our guy we will go to in the end with De'Anthony."

Q: What have you seen from Dee Ford?

TOUB:"Yeah, he's doing a good job. Him and (Anthony) Sherman together are a pretty good tandem back there, they get us going. They get our kick return going that's important to make sure we are going to get past the 20. That's what their job is and the front line is to get us a big return."

Q: When did he start taking that duty?

TOUB:"It was (Travis) Kelce, then we had (Demetrius) Harris. As soon as we lost Harris it was Dee Ford."

Q: You said that if a guy can make it through special teams it's a positive indication of growth. Are we at that point with Dee yet?

TOUB:"He's getting there. He's gaining more confidence all the time, he's making more plays for us. Possibly see him more on defense, that's the way it works. That's just the way the system is."

Q: Why is it taking so long for him?

TOUB:"I don't know, I don't want to comment on that."

Q: Somebody knocked De'Anthony out of bounds and stood over him then (Anthony) Sherman went over there and was jawing at him a little bit. Do you like to see that?

TOUB:"I always tell our guys, 'finish in a winning position, don't let a guy finish over top of you.' I mean but at the same time you don't want to have a penalty. Let them know that we aren't going to be pushed around, that's the main thing. You want to push it to the edge but you don't want a penalty."

Q: Do you think with a guy just standing over (De'Anthony), was Sherman justified in going over and saying something to him? TOUB:"Yeah, you have to take care of your guys. You don't just let that happen and Anthony (Sherman) is one of our leaders so you expect that out of him."

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