The Kansas City Chiefs dropped their first game of the season on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they'll turn the page quickly as they travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders on Thursday Night Football.
Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy and Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton spoke with the media on Monday about Sunday's game and the preparation for Thursday.
Nagy began the session by talking about wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas, who played a season-high 36 offensive snaps on Sunday in relief of injured wide outs Albert Wilson and Chris Conley.
Thomas had three catches for 61 yards against Pittsburgh, including a 57-yard touchdown in the game's closing minutes that brought Kansas City within just two points at the time.
"I thought De'Anthony did a good job. We got him moving around to some different spots. Obviously, when you have some guys go out with some injuries, he's forced to go in there and play both the "Z" and the "Zebra" positions for us, so he moved around pretty well and you saw it with the touchdown catch, making a good play and he did some good things with the ball in his hands."
Kansas City struggled offensively through much of the game before turning it on in the fourth quarter. Nagy discussed the Chiefs' struggles through the first three quarters of action.
"For us, obviously, it wasn't a good start. We started out slow and we're well aware of that, it just happened to be one of those games where we weren't getting into a rhythm, and there's no one person that happened to. I mean all of us collectively are looking in the mirror right now to see where we're at and we got into the third quarter, fourth quarter, and we just knew, 'Hey, listen, let's just try to get some momentum going and some first downs.' All that said, we were down nine points coming into the second half, so we just wanted to kind of get that rhythm back and get away from what happened in the first half."
The Chiefs had scored 24-plus points in seven consecutive regular season games before posting just 13 on Sunday.
Nagy went on to examine how the Steelers held Kansas City's offense in check.
"Well (Pittsburgh) did a good job with their scheme. They move their guys around a lot and that's a credit to their Defensive Coordinator for being able to mix guys around. They play physical, they play fast and hard, and not that other teams don't, but they do some good things. And for us, again, we always look in the mirror and try to see what we can do better on our end and there were some fundamental things that we normally have done well with and, for whatever reason, we didn't hit on yesterday. That's a part of football and nothing's because of effort. Guys are out there trying and they have some good stuff that they do defensively and when you just don't get into a rhythm offensively, it makes it easier for the defense to just keep doing what they're doing."
Another player that saw a good deal of playing time on Sunday was wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who played 49 offensive snaps.
"DeMarcus did a good job. He had some opportunities there and when we went back watching this morning and last night, some of the game tape you saw, just getting lined up in the right spots, making the correct route adjustments with the different presses and techniques they give you coverage wise, but he did everything we asked him to do and we're going to need that continuing here."
Kansas City is facing a short week of preparation before taking on the Raiders on Thursday night, and that work started right away.
"It started right after the game yesterday. It was right after the game, we came right on over to the office and got on to the tape and we were all here doing it getting ready for this game. Any time you have a short week like this and play on Thursday, you're missing out on that Monday and Tuesday of preparation, so we're in here just getting some work in on Oakland and they're doing the same for us having a late game yesterday, so it's definitely different but it's challenging and fun for us."
Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton also spoke with the media on Monday, and began by talking about the loss to Pittsburgh.
"Obviously, they did a great job. They're a very good team - we talked about before, great skill, balance, issues in the run and pass game all going on at once there, so they create some problems I think for everybody. I don't feel like we played as well as we could have played, but we had great effort and we battled through a lot of things there and, like many of these games we've been in, if you keep everything close, you got a chance at the end to see if you can make two or three really key plays and give yourself a chance to win the game. We definitely have to play better run defense, we understand that, we need to tackle better, all those things have to happen if we want to improve on defense, so that's big for us. They're a tough match and they did a great job, too."
Sutton spoke specifically about Steelers' running back Le'Veon Bell, who rushed for 179 yards on Sunday.
"He's a really good back. We had him in the backfield two or three times and just didn't finish him off and then it starts, but it's like everything, you just have to keep playing your defense. We're not going to invent something here to take over the fundamental part of our defense, so when you have your chances, you have to do a good job with it. I thought just between missing some tackles there and just not playing as good a technique as we needed to play against a player like him was big. When you rush the ball that many times, you're going to get some yards, that's really not the issue. You just need to control the sticks a little bit better than we did in that game. So, like I say, hey, there's nothing that was Earth shattering when we look at it as coaches. We're going to say, 'You need better foot work, you need better hand placement, or you needed to get off a block better, and then when you get a chance you need to tackle better,' so those are the things to me they were more fundamental things than anything and, like I say, this is not to take anything away from Pittsburgh. They did a great job of blocking, a great job of running and so we got to get that part improved here."
Just like the offense, Sutton's defense will have limited time to prepare for Oakland this week. Sutton discussed how the Chiefs will approach practice with only a few days of work.
"Well you know everybody's got the same deal. I don't think you can fall off on that. That's how you try to build up and bank your reps through the course of training camp and all those things, but even when you practice with no pads, you can practice your foot work, your hand placement and everything and, yeah, it's a little bit more difficult, but it's got to be done. I think that's the big thing. You just got to do this as a day-to-day deal. It's a technique, it's a skill and you got to improve, like we talk to the guys all the time about. Every single day you go on the practice field you're developing a habit—a good one or a bad one, but you don't get to be neutral. You can't say you're the same as – no, you either got better or you got worse. That's one of the things we got to really zero in on as a coaching staff and take on the challenge as players and move this thing forward. We're capable of doing that. We've done it in different areas over the years here and when we kind of put a focus on it, we've been able to gradually work that thing back to where we'd like to get it."
Speaking of the Raiders, Sutton talked about Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch and the challenge he presents to a defense.
"He's the same guy. He runs hard and he's a contact runner - he loves contact - he's going to seek you out on some degree here. We say he's underrated as far as his ability to do those inline cuts and those things that he does so well. What happens is he gets the run through what we call the soft shoulders, and you end up overrunning him, you end up on that outside and you're reaching back in, and with his size and strength, this isn't a guy you can tackle like that. You got to stay inside out and you got to get good contact on him and get feet moving on contact. If you hit this guy, I don't care how hard you hit him, if your feet aren't rolling, they're not moving, it's going to be hard and like all great backs, you don't want to be involved in a lot of single tackles. You want multiple guys there, and that's a big part of this whole thing as you get ready to play a guy like Marshawn. You need your whole defense. When you want to take care of these guys, it's like we say, every player, every play, we need everybody involved, and you may think you're not needed, but in about a half a second that thing bounces back or bounces out, we need you and that's why you need to assume every time, I'm a critical guy in helping get this guy in control here."