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While a lot of attention was focused on the OL this offseason, there were major changes on the defense as well. Here are a couple of stories.

Jarren Reed was a big addition. HC Reid had some comments.

Reed I like. I mentioned before he doesn’t spell his name quite right, but he sure plays right....We’re always talking about the offensive line, but that signing right there was a really good get and I think will pay off for us in a real big way this season. It gives us some flexibility with what we can do with Chris (Jones), so I like that addition. You’re talking about a Pro Bowl-caliber player and just plugging him in, and not much has been said about it. I’m excited to see him once we kick this thing off. 
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2021/05/28/kansas-city-chiefs-head-coach-andy-reid-hyped-up-defensive-tackle-jarran-reed-otas/

This article deals with the CB group if Bashad Breeland is not re-signed. The assumption is that Ward and Sneed play the outside, with Hughes on the slot. Where will Baker fit in, once his leg heals? What's Fenton's role? These are questions that need answers.
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/without_bashaud_breeland_the_chiefs_philosophy_on_cornerbacks_will_be_tested/s1_16631_35016395

Anthony Hitchens showed up noticeably thinner. He is on his last contract year and has been mentoring the younger players. With Wilson gone, the LB corps will have a very different look. Don't be shocked if an UDFA from this year or last makes the roster. 
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/5/28/22457535/anthony-hitchens-says-he-is-leaner-this-offseason

 

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Here is an article on Willie Gay, who is coming off a broken ankle. It's a pity, because he was starting to look much better in December, particularly the Atlanta game. 
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/willie_gay_jr_is_ready_for_his_second_year_jump/s1_16631_35028158

As noted above, Hitchens has trimmed down. it seems that activity is the target of the LB for the coming year. In the middle of that will be Bolton, who is less of a mover and more of a thinker. It makes for an interesting dynamic. Hitchens will be gone next year, but Gay and Bolton have three more years on their rookie contracts. 

J

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Two Chiefs made a best pass rusher list--Chris Jones and Jarren Reed. 
https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/lists/nfls-best-pass-rushers-from-every-gap-aaron-donald-t-j-watt-cameron-heyward/

HC Reid commented that Reed gave them options for Chris Jones, see two posts up. Many see this as an indication we will see Jones at DE more this year. While I think that is a possibility, my take would be that they could switch and stunt the DTs more often. We also have Turk Wharton, who can probably play either DT or DE. In some fashion, the Chiefs need more pass rush and up the middle is a big option. 

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PFF names Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill top 32 safeties. No kidding guys.
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/2/22465549/chiefs-place-two-safeties-on-pffs-top-32-for-2021

An article on L'Jarius Sneed going into his second year.
https://www.yardbarker.com/general_sports/articles/whats_next_for_ljarius_sneed_in_his_second_nfl_season/s1_16631_35081843

Edited by onejayhawk
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DC Spagnuolo talked at length about some of the challenges that the defense is facing, particularly outside CB and DE. 
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/4/22518569/steve-spagnuolo-addresses-moving-two-chiefs-from-inside-to-outside

Concerning CB, the Chiefs lost Bashaud Breeland and do not appear interested in bringing him back. That leaves an opening at outside CB opposite Charvarius Ward. L'Jarius Sneed played that position for two weeks while Breeland was suspended, with outstanding results, until he broke his collarbone.  After the injury, Sneed played the slot almost exclusively. Spags took it from there.

I think back in Philadelphia, we had Bobby Taylor. What we did with Bobby is that he he played outside in four defensive back packages — and then he moved back [inside] on the five defensive back packages. So we may go that route.

A little bit of it is going to depend on — I’m going to say, ‘the next corner that surfaces.’ Or, ‘IS there a next corner that surfaces? If we need to keep [Sneed] on the outside, we’ll do that. I think until then, we’ll probably work him at both [positions] and see where it goes. We really need to find out what we have in the ‘other corners’ — if that makes sense.

There is a lot packed in there. First, he removed any doubt Sneed is one of the starting CB. Second, comparing any young DB to Bobby Taylor is high praise. Taylor could do everything, and do it well. In comparison, Ward is a one trick pony. Third, there is no nickel CB yet, and far from it. Spags is comfortable with his starting pair, but not the rest of the depth chart. Considering that group contains two first round picks, Baker and Hughes, that's saying a lot. It also says the sixth and seventh round picks, Fenton and Keyes respectively, are still in the running. Finally, Spags notes that it is possible no third CB emerges from that foursome. 

The other subject of much consideration is whether Chris Jones will be playing a lot of DE. He played about 1%5 of his snaps at DE last season. Spags says it's likely, but cautioned about going overboard. 

[Chris Jones] is an imposing player inside. We all know that. If we move him outside on a number of the snaps — and he’s going to have to be flexible to do both — we’ll miss that. Hopefully we’ll gain something on the edge. When somebody changes a position, obviously the first hurdle is the mental part of it. Chris is working through that, and he’s been great. He’s been here and been part of the whole thing. I think that’s important: when you change a position, it’s just not that easy to pick up a whole new spot and we do some different things with the defensive ends. So he’ll play out there a little bit, and you know, we’ll move him back inside when we have to.

Like Sneed, it's a work in progress. In this case the addition of Jarren Reed gives possibilities, but other players will have to step up and take them. This means not just Jones, but also Taco Charlton and second year players Mike Danna and Turk Wharton. 

J

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This is one of Ron Kopp's signature in depth articles. The subject is how Spagnuolo is changing the defense's approach, particularly to the red zone. 
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/8/22523702/how-the-chiefs-red-zone-defense-improves-in-2021

The principle problems to address are range of the LB--I'm looking at you Willie Gay--and a weak short yardage unit. In short yardage, Damien Wilson was the best at filling a hole and he's gone. Fortunately, this is exactly what Nick Bolton is good at doing. Communication with the secondary should improve, with Thornhill available all season and Sneed progressing from his impressive rookie season.

J

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Not sure of the best place to put this, but ESPN.com has an article on NFL trades and how the process has and may continue to evolve....in the article was a list of players that "could" be traded (admittedly pure speculation with some justification included)....one name jumped out at me: Chandler Jones.

Here is the writeup:

"Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals: Jones was a top-three pass-rusher in the NFL before missing much of last season with a biceps injury that required surgery.

But Jones just watched Arizona pay DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt while he sits on the last year of his deal at a $12.425 million salary. He missed part of OTAs.

Maybe all is good, as this pose suggests. Jones is known as leader and good locker room guy. But the team needs to address his future eventually, and plenty of teams that believe they are one good pass-rusher away might pick up the phone and dial Arizona GM Steve Keim"

Pure fantasy, but imagine a defensive line of Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark for atleast 1 year.

🤪

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On 6/8/2021 at 7:59 PM, Cutler06 said:

Onejayhawk, seems like you’re talking to yourself. Good info though, Reed looks like a good pickup

Them's the breaks this time of year.

For serious fans, one of the issues facing the team is Willie Gay. He was drafted to pump up the athleticism of the LB corps, but he had trouble picking up the system. Toward the end of the season, he was starting to contribute, until he had a season ending soft tissue injury. Now, at a time when it's still cool to be a bit unready, he is claiming to be 100%, plus he's picking things up more easily. The test is still coming, but it would be very nice to see this proven in play.
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/10/22528201/willie-gay-jr-is-catching-on-more-than-last-offseason-adds-hes-100

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1 hour ago, onejayhawk said:

Them's the breaks this time of year.

For serious fans, one of the issues facing the team is Willie Gay. He was drafted to pump up the athleticism of the LB corps, but he had trouble picking up the system. Toward the end of the season, he was starting to contribute, until he had a season ending soft tissue injury. Now, at a time when it's still cool to be a bit unready, he is claiming to be 100%, plus he's picking things up more easily. The test is still coming, but it would be very nice to see this proven in play.
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/10/22528201/willie-gay-jr-is-catching-on-more-than-last-offseason-adds-hes-100

Yeah, though Gay was looking like a solid pick for you guys, perhaps he just needs more time in your defensive scheme.

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6 minutes ago, Cutler06 said:

Yeah, though Gay was looking like a solid pick for you guys, perhaps he just needs more time in your defensive scheme.

We're thinking more preseason time. Last season there was none and he was not quick to pick things up.

This year, Nick Bolton will be the test case. We badly need someone who can reliably fill the hole in short yardage. Jarren Reed will also help on that point.

J

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Jarren Reed is saying nice things about his new teammates. Frank Clark he already knew, but Chris Jones and Turk Wharton brought praise. Praise for Jones is unsurprising, since CJ is a multi-Pro Bowler, with a noted work ethic. Wharton, an undrafted second year player is a different story, but Reed specifically mentioned Turk as a player who deserve more attention.
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/11/22529555/jarran-reed-is-enjoying-time-with-chiefs-impressed-with-chris-jones-turk-wharton

More detail on Wharton. Turk played 48% of defensive snaps as an UDFA, from Egghead U, with almost no preparation. Now, with a year of experience and some coaching, he is making an impression on Reed.
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2021/06/14/kansas-city-chiefs-jarran-reed-tershawn-wharton-underrated/

J

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More on Mike Danna, second year DE. He was selected 5th round 2020 and played well as a rookie. Last season there was some depth at DE, so getting snaps from the first game is an accomplishment. This season, depth is much less at DE, so Danna will be expected to play extensively, possibly start opposite Frank Clark. 
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/will_mike_danna_make_a_second_year_jump/s1_16631_35138057

[T]here have been discussions that Chris Jones will get a significant amount of playing time across from Clark as the other defensive end this season. The Chiefs brought Taco Charlton back and Tim Ward will be in the mix as well. Those are a couple of guys who have experience in the system. Not only that, but the Chiefs drafted Joshua Kaindoh, who they believe has a lot of potential and could be the team’s EDGE of the future. 

The article states that getting similar number of snaps as 2020 would be solid, because Alex Okafor and Taco Charlton missed so much time. I think that's not the case. Taco is a pass rush specialist, while starter Tanoh Kpassagnon and Okafor are gone. Unless Chris Jones and/or Turk Wharton take over starter snaps, Danna will need to do it. Indeed, Wharton and Danna make an interesting DE/DT pairing, since they have similar builds and could switch places if desired. Spagnuolo likes DEs who can slide inside, so a DT who can slideoutside is a natural compliment.

J

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On the DL generally, though more focused on DE. 
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2021/6/8/22518830/the-chiefs-have-a-solid-defensive-line-as-it-stands

That as many as five competent players (Chris Jones, Mike Danna, Taco Charlton, Joshua Kaindoh, Tim Ward) to rotate along with Frank Clark at the two EDGE positions. There’s also the aforementioned interior pass rush and the blitzing tendencies of Spagnuolo (L’Jarius Sneed and Tyrann Mathieu are members of Sack Nation). Their comfort level with the pass rush potential on the roster could also be a reason they released Kamalai Correa before they even get to training camp.

There are many signs that the Chiefs don’t feel they need to make a splash at the defensive end position. We’ll see if they were correct in that assumption or not, once the season gets underway

 I would add Tershawn Wharton to the mix, though his part could be making it possible for Jones to slide outside. He's a stout run defender and has shown some raw talent as as a pass rusher. 

Here is another one on Jones as DE.
https://www.espn.com/blog/kansas-city-chiefs/post/_/id/29982/why-chiefs-chris-jones-could-get-his-sacks-from-a-different-position

J

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