Steve Spagnuolo addresses moving two chefs from inside to outside
As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the 2021 season, two of the team’s biggest defense questions involve a well-established move inside players at the outside.
One of them is sophomore cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who turned heads across the league when he opened his rookie campaign by starting with an outside corner while Bashaud Breeland served a suspension. of four games to start the season. But then Sneed suffered a broken collarbone in the Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens. Upon his return in Week 10, the Chiefs moved him inside to serve as a cornerback in the team’s nickel defensive packages – where he once again performed very well.
But now – with Breeland a free agent (and the other outside corner Charvarius Ward only under contract this season) – the pressure is mounting to move Sneed to an away role. The Chiefs, however, now have 17 defensive backs on the roster. Two recently acquired corners – Deandre Baker and Mike Hughes – are former first-round picks who have yet to deliver on their original promises. Third-year cornerback Rashad Fenton has shown some ability both inside and outside, while second-year BoPete Keyes has seen little action in 2020.
Meanwhile, the other inside Outside The situation involves star defensive tackle Chris Jones, whom the Chiefs have already used as a defensive end under certain circumstances. According to the football analysis site Pro Football Focus, Jones was lined up as an end on 18% of his snaps in 2020 – but with the signing of the former Seattle Seahawks Jarran Reed defensive tackle Andy Reid explained how this gives the team “flexibility” in how they might use Jones in 2021.
When meeting with reporters on a Zoom conference call on Thursday, Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo gave more details on these two potentials. inside Outside moves. First he addressed Sneed moving outward.
“I think in Philadelphia we had Bobby Taylor,” Spagnuolo recalls. “What we did with Bobby was he played away in four defensive back packages – then he came back [inside] out of the five defensive rear packages. So we can take that route.
But Spagnuolo also acknowledged that there are plenty of question marks among the many cornerbacks the team have scored – and the final solution may well depend on what they learn about them.
“It will depend a little bit on – I’ll say, ‘the next corner that comes up. Or, ‘Is there a next turn surfacing?’ “, He noted. “If we have to keep [Sneed] outside, we will. I think until then we’ll probably work it out at once [positions] and see where it goes. We really need to find out what we have in the “other corners” – if that makes sense. “
Next, Spagnuolo explained how much he already enjoys having Reed on the team.
“I remember when he was in Alabama I have a good friend who actually trained him as he got ready for the combine,” he recalls. “So we have a mutual friend – a coach I have a lot of respect for – and I’ve always loved him as a player, so I’m glad we had him. We had him here a few days – and I texted him the other day. I really like the way he behaves here in training. He’s serious about football, [but] he knows when to lighten it. Right now, in the short time I spent with him, I really like the personality, the attitude and what he gives us as a football player.
Then, in response to another question on how the Chiefs could strike a balance between using Jones both on the inside and the outside, Spagnuolo mentioned the issues the team have yet to work out for. for that to happen – and recognized that they were moving in that direction.
“He’s an imposing player on the inside. We all know that, ”he said. “If we move him out on a number of shots – and he’ll have to be flexible to do both – we’ll miss it.” Hopefully we will gain something on the edge. When someone changes their position, the first obstacle is obviously the mental part.
“Chris is working through this – and he’s been great. He’s been here and he’s been part of the whole. I think that’s important: when you change positions it’s just not that easy to take a whole new place – and we do different things with the defensive ends. So he’ll play a bit there – and you know, we’ll get him back inside when we need to. “
But Spagnuolo also admitted that the specific plan for how to use Jones – just like with Sneed – is a work in progress.
“But that’s a great point you make,” he said. “I think your question is, ‘How do you balance this? I don’t know how you do this yet. Maybe it will depend – and I think we’ll probably do a little bit of it – it will depend on who we play … where maybe we can find a weakness – and maybe expose that weakness in the five player’s. offensive line.
“But we just have to get him used to playing both places now – and figure out the rest later.”