What We Learned From the Coordinators on Wednesday

Kansas City Chiefs’ Assistant Head Coach / Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

Here are five things that stood out.

1. Toub was asked about the success of rookie Tremon Smith this season, who handed kick return duties for the majority of the year.

“We are really proud of him,” Toub said. “He’s done a good job when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s effective. He just comes to work every day and he works hard. He’s turned into a really good and solid kick returner for us.”

Smith was first given a chance as a returner in Week 6 following a season-ending injury to wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas. The sixth-round pick went on to make the most of that opportunity, returning 33 kicks for 886 yards on the year and earning a Second-Team All-Pro nod from the folks at Pro Football Focus.

“Early on, [Thomas] was our guy, which enabled us to develop Tremon. That helped us,” Toub explained. “We were able to throw him in there in the New England game and he had a great game. Confidence is the key. I have said that before. In that game, he popped the big long one and then that kind of propelled him the rest of the season.”

2. Bieniemy, meanwhile, was asked about quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ readiness for the postseason stage.

“I’ll say this about Pat: he has done a tremendous job all year of handling all the different scenarios that we’ve had to deal with. The kid is a phenomenal professional football player - obviously he’s a tremendous talent - but he doesn’t take anything for granted,” Bieniemy said. “Now, we don’t want him changing his personality and we don’t want him changing the way he prepares. We do know this: when it’s playoff time, everything picks up a bit faster. You have to have a sense of urgency and that sense of purpose needs to pick up. That’s not just for him, but that’s for everyone.”

Mahomes and the offense will look to harness that sense of urgency against a Colts team that has won 10 of their last 11 games while posting the top scoring defense in the league during that time.

“I’ve said this all year long - each and every week presents a different issue. This defense is playing great team football together,” Bieniemy said. “I know the one kid, [Darius Leonard], is doing a heck of a job playing linebacker. That’s a find, that’s a huge find. I know the one kid is doing a heck of a job and he’s getting a lot of recognition, but the one thing that stands out about this defense is that they play as a unit. That’s the most impressive thing about them and that’s their strongest point.”

3. Bieniemy went on to discuss tight end Travis Kelce and the reasons behind his success against zone defensive coverage this year.

“I think it’s a number of things. First of all, it’s pre-snap recognition. Before you even come off the ball, it’s understanding what type of coverages we’re expecting, where they’re dropping into the zones, where the voids are going to be taking place, how many are they dropping back and how many they are playing underneath,” Bieniemy explained. “It’s a number of things, but understanding that timing is everything. [It’s also] having a sense of urgency to get up the field to make sure that you’re in sync and in rhythm with the quarterback. Then, on top of that, [you have to] make sure you’re presenting and turning the proper way based upon the leverage of the coverage. There are a number of things that take place.”

Kelce hauled in a franchise-record 103 catches this season for 1,336 yards – the second-most during a single season by a tight end in NFL history. Much of that success, as Bieniemy indicated, has been a result of diligent preparation.

“I will say this, [with] pre-snap indicators, these guys have a lot to think about before the ball is even snapped. Those guys make sure that they study enough film so that those pre-snap indicators will tell them exactly what to do, and now the quarterback and that particular receiver are in sync and in rhythm.”

4. On the other side of the ball, Sutton was asked about how the Chiefs can generate a pass rush against the Colts’ offensive line, which yielded the fewest sacks in the NFL this season.

“Based on the numbers, it’s going to be very challenging. They’ve only given up 18 sacks, which is really a tribute to their line,” Sutton said. “I think it’s also a tribute to [quarterback] Andrew [Luck]. He does a really good job of getting rid of the football. He’s a sharp guy who understands protections and pressures. I think they really work well together in that regard. It’s like anything - we will have our chances, and we have to take advantage of them. To really make it work, you have to be in sync totally. You have to have good coverage to maybe get that one little extra click. You have to work really hard. Statistically, they are the best team in the league at that. I think that’s one of the reasons they’re so good on third down.”

5. Sutton went on to speak more about Luck and how the Chiefs’ can slow down the veteran quarterback, who has found his most success when getting rid of the ball quickly.

“The key part of getting rid of it is if you can sustain the drive. We don’t mind him getting rid of it as long as we can come up and make the play and prevent the sticks from moving. That’s a big part of it,” Sutton said. “Just like third down. Sometimes on third down, your pressures don’t get home or your rush doesn’t get home - whatever the case may be – but it affects the quarterback, he gets the ball out and, if you rally and do a good job tackling, then you get off the field. That’s really what you’re trying to do. That and I think you mix up what you’re doing - whether you’re going to rush more, drop more - whatever it is - you just change up on guys like him.”

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