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GRETZ: Chiefs Defense Shines
Aug 04, 2007, 8:55:37 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ
MANKATO, MN – Before his team left River Falls to travel the two hours west to practice against the Vikings, Herm Edwards had something to say.
The head coach told his team they were a team that made the playoffs last year and that they should get off the bus at Minnesota State University like they were a playoff team.
“That’s what they are expecting,” Edwards told his players. “Don’t disappoint them.”
They didn’t. The Chiefs turned in a fine performance Friday evening against the Vikings. As soon as the team returned home to the Falls, Edwards was planning to watch the tape. For the most part, he’s going to be happy with what he sees.
Oh, the coaches will find plenty of things to work on. But the Chiefs were very efficient and productive in their 90 minutes of work. It was just an early August snapshot of a team, but it was a pretty nice picture.
Here’s what happened with the defense on Friday night. When the teams face off again Saturday night in River Falls, I’ll give you my take on the offense.
Defensively, the Chiefs were dominant. There’s no other way to describe how they went after the Vikings. It started with the 9-on-7 drill, which is designed for the running game. The Chiefs No. 1 defense just slammed Minnesota. The Vikings were without injured running backs Chester Taylor and No. 1 draft choice Adrian Peterson, so that made a difference. But they had their No. 1 offensive line out there and the Chiefs shut them down on four of the five plays. The fifth was a botched Minnesota handoff.
When the full team work started, again the Chiefs defense dominated the action. Everyone figured it would be a vanilla evening, given the fact that these two teams will see each other in the third week of the regular season. If this was a vanilla defense, then Gunther Cunningham has really loaded up the playbook.
Cunningham sent two linebackers on one blitz, he sent the nickel back Tyron Brackenridge on another blitz. Second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson never was able to get comfortable. Even with the blitzes, the real pressure was coming from the Chiefs front four. Jared Allen had a sack. Jackson stepped up into the pocket to run and if this had been a real game, Ron Edwards would have buried him. Edwards and Tamba Hali combined on another sack.
The player who really stood out was middle linebacker Napoleon Harris. Whether it was the chance for action against his old team, or just the chance to let loose, he was everywhere, filling the gaps and shutting down any Vikings running play.
Starting cornerbacks Pat Surtain and Ty Law did not work, so the youngsters got a lot of playing time. Justin Phinisee had an interception and Will Poole made a diving attempt at one, only to lose it when he hit the ground.
Nothing the Vikings tried offensively worked. DE Jimmy Wilkerson was impressive with the second unit. CB Benny Sapp had some nice plays in one-on-one drills and the team work. When the rookies had a short live scrimmage at the end of practice, Turk McBride was right in the middle of stopping the Vikes running game.
Again, this was one summer night in southwest Minnesota. The Vikings may show up in River Falls a little more intent on getting something done Saturday. A lot of things can change.
But it was a very good start for the Chiefs defense.
Other practice notes: when all the units came together at the end of practice, Brodie Croyle started with the Chiefs No. 1 offense and looked very good in five plays. He threw a strike to Eddie Kennison down the right seam that would have been a big play in any game. Croyle got the ball out of his hands quickly on every pass play. Damon Huard wasn’t bad and Casey Printers may have turned in his best performance. He looked poised, confident and fired the ball with accuracy.