Injury Update: LB Tamba Hali (knee) and CB Sean Smith (knee) both returned to practice today. CB Tyvon Branch (foot) and OL Ben Grubbs (neck) did not practice.
Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson
Pederson began with his opinion on how the offense performed against the Denver Broncos last Sunday.
"I'm glad we won," Pederson said. "That's the biggest stat of them all right there, the wins and losses. It wasn't the cleanest performance offensively—we left a lot of plays on the field. That part is encouraging because that's where you get better and that's where you learn from that. We're going to see a very similar defense this week with a lot of the guys coming back from injury. They're going to be full steam. We're going to see the same style. We can take a lot of stuff we did last week, learn from it and get better. But again, the bottom line that we did win the game was the encouraging part."
Pederson discussed how the Chiefs "left plays on the field" against Denver.
"You're still at full steam-ahead mode at that point, whoever was their quarterback—Peyton [Manning] or Brock [Osweiler]," Pederson said. "They're an explosive offense—we know that. They're a great defense. We know that, so we have to continue to be aggressive. 19 points is not enough against the Broncos and we knew that. That again goes back to some of those plays that we left out there, whether it was sustaining a block or completing a pass or catching a pass. Those were the types of things that broke down that created those three-and-outs for us. 19 is not enough in this league and we have to stay aggressive in those situations."
Quarterback Alex Smith leads the league with 228 consecutive passes without an interception, but Pederson believes Smith is still taking chances to expand the offense.
"He is doing that for us," Pederson said. "You go back to the London game, that touchdown pass to Jeremy [Maclin] down the middle of the field with tight coverage. Then last week, our last touchdown there to Charcandrick [West] to be able to move in the pocket and locate him coming out of the backfield. Some of the things we're asking him to do, he's doing it. He knows in his mind and we know in our mind that he's just one of those quarterbacks that's going to protect the football. We always have a touchdown, check down mentality. If it's not there, find the back, find the tight end. He's very good at that and it's been a very positive thing for us offensively not turning the ball over.
"You look at the last couple of weeks and we have been able to do [stretch the field]. Those are some of the things that we take away from the Broncos game. We didn't sustain that drive: we had great field position and we ended up with 3 points. But we still feel comfortable and confident that if we need to go 80, we can go 80. We did it against Denver the first time when we needed to score. We went down to score to go ahead in that game. We've done it a couple of times this year against Pittsburgh and teams like that. We know we can do that. We have to be clicking on all cylinders and it's a mindset. You get into that third and fourth quarter and the guys have to realize where you are in the game and go make the plays that are necessary to stay on the field."
Pederson also spoke on how he was impressed with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin's blocking on offense to help extend plays.
"We ask them to do a lot in the run game," said Pederson. "That's what kind of carries over. That's just an extension of the run game in our minds and we ask our receivers to do a lot of that and I think you've seen it here lately. You've seen Jeremy down the field on certain blocks and allowing our backs and receivers to make longer runs. But we're going to continue to ask them to do that. It's a pride thing with them—they welcome it. And I think it just opens up a lot more of your passing game.
"I just think you just watch what Jeremy's done, some of the blocks he's made down field and I think it feeds to the younger player. To Albert [Wilson], to Chris [Conley], the guys that are in there playing. Jason can do it because we ask Jason to do it quite a bit in the run game, especially in tight situations. It just feeds that younger player, and Jeremy's done a nice job there."
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton
Chargers receivers lead the league in yards after the catch, but Sutton relates this to some of the receivers the Chiefs have already faced.
"I think we've had this with different teams," Sutton said. "One of the key factors any time you're dealing with explosive runs after the ball is caught that really demands everybody's attention is that when the ball is thrown, you might be on the opposite side of the field, but you have to play like you're the key element in this whole deal. You have to bring that mindset. It's just like handling Woodhead coming out of the backfield in cross formations or screens, or whatever it is, you just really have to have good intensity and realize you can't afford to not be at top speed every play because these guys can run and catch the ball. They're doing a great job getting the ball out quick, so consequently they're making a lot of catch and run-style plays. I think that's the most important thing of all."
Sutton touched upon how the Chiefs defense's consistency within the last five weeks has led to success.
"I think consistency is a good word," Sutton said, "because in the beginning there were stretches where we were playing really well, and then whether we didn't finish a game or we didn't maintain it. But I think again, over this period of time, the one thing I really credit the players and the assistant coaches for doing a great job of is drilling down. Practice and preparation I think has been maintained at a high level. We talked before about winning and losing. You can't let that affect how you prepare and how it affects the next game, and so far, they've been able to kind of keep ramping this thing up. If we do that, we have a chance because we all know that the key to this drill is you have to keep getting better. We've been able to stack a few together, but we can't back off now or we'll be right back to where we were."
Sutton also spoke on how to handle quicker throws and pass plays, as seen with the Chargers.
"Defense is really knowing where your help is—that's the key part to any defense, whether it's run defense or passing," Sutton said. "You have to understand where you're at in this thing and how you're going to leverage the football whether it's being thrown or it's being run. If you do that, that can allow you to play tendencies a little stronger and if you don't have the support, if you're the last line width or depth-wise, then you have to respect that as well.
"I think some of it comes from understanding the route combinations and that. Obviously you want to adjust to whoever the quarterback is because certain quarterbacks do certain things better, whether it's throw the ball down the field, throw the ball outside, whatever it is. You have to understand all of those things as you get ready during the week."
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub
Toub talked about the solid performance the Chiefs special teams unit gave last Sunday versus Denver.
"Yeah it was solid because any time you can recover three onside kicks, that's a good day," Toub said. "Because at the end of your day, you're setting up your offense and they're trying to create a turnover. Those are high-stress situations and the guys handled them well. They rose to the challenge and made big plays there."
Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt had another punt inside the 5-yard line against the Broncos. Toub touched upon how Colquitt's had such success at the position.
"He looks at it as an art craft," Toub said. "He takes pride in it. He's so disappointed when he hits a touchback—I mean it really crushes him. He takes it upon himself to be the guy that's going to do it, let alone having to go down there to make the play too. So when you combine it with him and the gunner being in a good position, we're going to have a high percentage of those kicks inside the 20.
"I think he's the best there's ever been. I mean, really. When you look at it over the years, 40 percent of his kicks are inside the 20. I mean, it's unbelievable over the years. I don't know if there's anybody that's been even close to him. Maybe the guy who was with the Giants for years (Jeff Feagles). But I don't think there's anybody else closer than him. He does such a great job. He's so consistent with it and confident."
Toub reflected on what he calls "the evolution of the rugby kick" and why punters stopped punting touchbacks.
"It used to be coffin corner, coffin corner," Toub said. "That was Feagles, what he used to be good at. Now the rugby kick with the spin, when it hits, it comes back, so everybody goes with that. It's a much higher-percentage kick and everybody has that now. You can't be an NFL punter without having a rugby kick."
The Chiefs haven't scored a special teams touchdown all season, but Toub is not worried.
"When I was in Chicago, we had Devin Hester in 2006, 2007," Toub said. "We broke all kinds of records. [Then in] 2008, 2009, not one touchdown for two years straight. We have a long way to go before we get to that point, but then we came back and had a whole bunch more after that.
"Touchdowns are hard to get, they don't just come. When you get one, it's a special thing. I think we're getting closer, the guys are working hard and we have a lot of season left, too."