While Kansas City’s offense makes all the headlines, its defense has taken a less prominent public role in the Chiefs’ 5-0 start to 2018. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Patriots are taking them lightly.
Even though K.C. has been allowing an average of about 26 points per game to opposing offenses, the Chiefs’ D has also intercepted six passes, recovered a pair of fumbles, and sacked the quarterback 15 times. Outside linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston (who’s dealing with a hamstring injury), along with defensive end Allen Bailey, are responsible for the majority of those QB takedowns.
“It’s a great team. Their defense plays extremely well, they move to the ball well,” observed rookie running back Sony Michel. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us. I’m excited.”
“They have a really good pass rush. They have a lot of good players,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett told reporters Wednesday after practice. “Those two guys on the outside [Ford and Houston] can really rush the passer. They’re really good [as a defense] at turning over the ball. They get you in third-and-long [situations], so, they can let those pass rushers come at you.”
So, how do the Patriots think they can counter this potentially underrated Chiefs defense?
“It’ll be a good matchup for us. We have to start fast offensively and be able to score points,” observed running back/co-captain James White.
“We have to start fast and be good on first and second downs,” added Dorsett. “We have to execute. Receivers have to get off press coverage, catch the ball. Everybody has to do their part. We know it’s going to be a challenge. I just can’t wait to get out there and play.”
As we discussed yesterday, second-year Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is drawing raves for the way he’s played so far this season. Replicating his rare skill set of athleticism and arm strength in practice is nearly impossible for any opponent. It would make sense if New England used practice squad rookie Danny Etling as their scout-team Mahomes in workouts this week, as he is the closest approximation they have on the roster to Mahomes’ youth, speed, and throwing velocity.
When asked if he was playing Mahomes in practice, backup QB Brian Hoyer acknowledged that he’s not watching film of the Chiefs’ offense, but answered questions about playing a scout-team QB by saying, “It’s always fun for me to emulate a different offense, because, whether it’s read-option or RPOs, it’s always an opportunity to get better as a quarterback. I always take that challenge and I’m always trying to give the defense the best look.”
For the second straight day, New England practiced all 63 players, including the 10-man practice squad. Several players were limited by injuries, including Michel, who’s back on the injury report with a knee issue. He spoke at length to the media after practice today, however, which is normally an encouraging sign that a player isn’t in too bad a condition physically.
Supporting the Sox
When the Patriots host Kansas City Sunday night, they’ll be kicking off about an hour after the Boston Red Sox get underway with Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros.
“I’m happy for them. Keep it going,” cornerback Stephon Gilmore said of the Sox’ advancement in the MLB playoffs after beating the New York Yankees.
“Actually, I was in New York over the weekend and I was watching,” Dorsett revealed.
But how is a New England sports fan to decide what to watch this Sunday?
“Buy some TVs. Watch both,” Dorsett suggested.
“Get two TVs,” echoed Gilmore.
“If it were me, I’d be watching football,” center/co-captain David Andrews proclaimed, completely unbiased, “but yeah, get two TVs.”