Kansas City Chiefs’ Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton and several position coaches spoke with the media on Thursday.
Here are five things that stood out.
Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton
1. What can Eric Berry bring back to the defense when he is able to return?
SUTTON: “I think with [Eric Berry] we’re not going to probably know for sure - is he going to be back or isn’t he going to be back all the way - but he’s just getting out there and practicing. I think anybody that’s missed the amount of time that he has, there’s that ability to come back in. I don’t really worry at all about the knowledge of the position. One, he’s been in the system for quite a while, and two, he’s been in every single meeting, like I’ve told you guys before, taking notes like he was playing in the game from Week 1 all the way through. I don’t think the mental part from the standpoint of, What the call is here or what are we doing there or how are covering this or that - I think that will come. I think the hardest thing when you’ve been out of action is that reaction time. Here is the stimuli, and I want to go, but I can’t make my body go yet. I don’t know if there’s any way to do that except to be out there and get it. It’s not going to take him that long to get that back, but I think that would be the biggest question. Now, I think when you’re playing in the deep part, any time you’re away from it, you have more time to respond. If you’re down tight, you have less time to respond. That’s true for all positions on the team, not just him coming back. I think just as he gets more comfortable doing that and knowing that, I’m sure for a guy like him that’s so used to that kind of movement, if it doesn’t happen or you’re thinking, ‘I want to go there,’ or, ‘I’m supposed to be able to go there,’ I think he’s going to have to feel that out and see. He’s going to be a good addition to our defense and to our team [even] if he’s a click behind. I just think the other stuff is going to come the more he plays. He’s played a lot of football in his life and I don’t worry about that part of it.”
Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy
2. What do you think it means for your offensive line to get their starting center [Mitch Morse] back in the mix?
BIENIEMY: “It means a lot. Mitch [Morse] is working his way back in, but I will say I thought the kid Austin Reiter did a heck of a job. He stepped up. The good thing is, sometimes without any bad luck, you wouldn’t have any good luck at all. He had an opportunity to step in and play and show that he can perform at a high level when needed. That’s going to help us moving forward as we progress through the season, because you never know when something may come up and he may have to step up and play. The beauty of it is we appreciate all of our players and all of the energy and effort they give us, regardless of where they are on the depth chart.”
Inside Linebackers’ Coach Mark DeLeone
3. What has Dorian O’Daniel done that has made you involve him more in the defensive gameplan?
DELEONE: “There are probably a couple reasons for that. One is that the Rams really only play one personnel group the whole game. We tried to get Dorian on in a speed area to do that, so he played a lot on the Rams game. Then, the game before that, [linebacker Anthony Hitchens] didn’t play. So, his reps have spiked for a couple different reasons. I think with Dorian, he’s gotten better every week. He shows flashes - early on he really had a very specific role and did well and we’ve tried to just put more on his plate and expand it. With that there are going to be some growing pains, but he’s really done a great job. When the lights are on, it’s not too big for him, which isn’t surprising because of the career he had in college and where he played at. He’s been able to do that well.”
Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck
4. Why haven’t the interior guys become a liability with all these injuries?
HECK: “They have done a really nice job. It is a credit to [General Manager] Brett [Veach] and his staff that have put together a team that continues to add talent and be a competitive room. I don’t give it a lot of thought and probably take it for granted that these are the best guys. They’re ours and we prepare every guy in the room to get ready to play multiple spots. It doesn’t even occur to me or anybody in our room or on the team, for that matter, that you would get anything but the same level of play. You just approach it that way and you hold them to that expectation. And, usually when you set the expectation and you set the bar, guys usually rise to that.”
Secondary / Cornerbacks Coach Al Harris
5. How challenging has this season been with all the injuries and changes in the secondary?
HARRIS: “One thing I can say about the group of men I have in that room, everybody looks at it like - and I know it’s going to sound so cliché - but next man up. That’s how we treat it. The past couple years, and you guys have seen it, we’ve rotated right corners so many times. Last year, once Sean Smith left, we have been rotating the right corner in the sub group. That is nothing new. Next man up, whoever is in there, I expect you to play at the same level of the guy that’s not in there.”
Quarterbacks Coach Mike Kafka
6. There was a lot of offense last time out, but a lot of mistakes as well. How good was the offense and what kind of cleanup work needed to be done afterwards?
KAFKA: “Going into the bye week, we re-evaluated not just that last game, but really the entire first half of the season. We did a lot of good things and we want to continue to roll with that. Then, we went back and really focused on, from a quarterback standpoint, what we can get better at? For me, it kind of starts with the fundamentals. His footwork, his eyes, progressions and reads. So, we went back and re-focused and made that a big-time emphasis for this week in practice.”
Defensive Line Coach Britt Reid
7. Chris Jones told us before the year that he wanted to lead the league in sacks, did you get a sense he wanted to raise the bar in that area?
REID: “He’s dead serious about that. Him and I talk all the time about it. There has to be an even balance there. You can’t be rushing the passer on run downs - there are no sacks on run downs – but he has gotten a lot better. Early in the season, he was probably taking too many shots when he shouldn’t have been. Obviously, we weren’t stopping the run very well. Us tightening that up and him understanding you can’t get a sack every play, I think that has helped him.”