KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs coordinators and safety Tyrann Mathieu fielded media questions on Thursday. Following are their comments.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR ERIC BIENIEMY
Q: You finally got to see Patrick in a full practice rather than limited. How did he look to you?
BIENIEMY: “You know what, he got some reps and he did a heck of a job. It was fun to get him back out there, but those guys are doing a hell of a job.”
Q: Do you think you have an advantage to having both quarterbacks practicing, so your opponents have to do double the studying?
BIENIEMY: “You know what, I think it does give us a competitive edge because they have no idea who is playing and we’re still waiting to see what exactly is going to take place this week. What it does do, it builds character among our players. Our team is developing together, and I thought throughout that course, I thought our guys did a heck of a job growing together, working together, developing chemistry together, and that was huge. Now we just need to make sure we’re continuing with the positive flow that we have. But also understanding we still have to work and still have to focus on the little detail things that are going to help us progress as the season goes along.”
Q: We have heard about how aggressive Patrick Mahomes is attacking his rehab, has there been anything that you have seen that shows how committed he is to getting back?
BIENIEMY: “Our training staff does a heck of a job. Rick (Burkholder) and his staff do a great job down there. One thing you have to understand is that Pat is a competitive kid, so Pat is going to come early and stay late regardless of the task at hand. I know that he went down there and worked his tail off because nothing is more important to Pat than being out there and competing with his teammates.”
Q: You have five tight ends on the roster, what is the thought process behind that?
BIENIEMY: “You always want to bring in good players that will fit in. Obviously, we want to continue to build our brand and make sure we are training and developing guys. You don’t want to pass up on good players. Our GM, Brett Veach, does a heck of a job of looking all around for different players. That’s his job and whoever they bring in we’re going to love them up and coach them up.”
Q: Damien Williams came into the season as the starter, but we didn’t see much of him the first eight or nine games, what did you like about what he did on Sunday?
BIENIEMY: “I thought he put consistent behavior on tape, actually for the last two weeks. He’s run hard, he’s been more physical and he’s seeing it a little better. We just want to make sure we continue to put that consistent behavior and type of attitude on tape. When it’s all said and done with, we have to be able to run the ball in order for us to have the success we want to have.”
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR DAVE TOUB
Q: Was what the Vikings did on the last field goal in attempt to block the kick legal?
TOUB: “It was legal, yeah. We checked it out with (Senior Vice President of Officiating) Al (Riveron) and everything that they did was legal. I knew that the jump was legal because they came from the line of scrimmage and the guy made a great athletic move. Cleared us totally, didn’t touch us. That’s what you’re looking for there. The fact that they put their hands on (James) Winchester’s back, they didn’t feel like they pulled him. If they pulled him, it would have been illegal, but they just felt like they pushed him down. I can see why they thought that it was legal.”
Q: If the Vikings player would have gotten a running start and then hurdled Winchester, would that have been legal?
TOUB: “No, that’s illegal. You have to be lined up on the line of scrimmage and be able to jump over. You can’t come from behind. That’s in the rule.”
Q: Did you seek an interpretation on that?
TOUB: “Yeah. I just wanted to find out – not so much about the leap, we knew that was legal, it was about what happened with Winchester. Was it a pull or a push? That’s the hard thing about officiating that play. It’s hard to tell. Is he actually being pulled or is he being pushed down? That’s where the gray area comes in.”
Q: Was the defensive penetration just created by a guy beating a block?
TOUB: “We just need to be more aware. We’ve learned from it now. In that situation, where it’s the game-winning kick, you have to be ready for everything. Those are the things that we have to talk about: watch the leaper, watch the crazy play. It’s something that we haven’t seen. We just have to be more alert. It was a good play. It was a nice play. They got the finger on the ball, and good thing (Harrison) Butker had enough power on it that it didn’t do anything to the ball. He still made it. Good play by them.”
Q: How much was this game an example of the type of impact that Tyreek Hill can have on a game, going in on the final two punt returns?
TOUB: “That was it right there, that showed. Britton (Colquitt) had a nice punt on the first one where we had Tyreek in there. He had a 40-yard net (punt) because he got it out of bounds. He tried to do the same thing on the second one but he mis-hit it. Tried to kick it out of bounds, and he ended up with a 25-yard punt, or whatever it was. Gave us great field position and we got what we wanted on that play. If they kick it to him, now he can get a touchdown. Pick your poison.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEVE SPAGNUOLO
OPENING STATEMENT: “How we doing? Listen, happy with the way things worked out last week. Was proud of the guys at the end of the game, so I’ll begin with that. But boom, we wake up on Monday morning and it’s time for another challenge. We’ll move on to that. I’ll just open it up.”
Q: What did you like, specifically with the linebackers, about how they defended against Dalvin Cook in the passing game?
SPAGNUOLO: “A lot of it didn’t come up. We were anticipating that it would. There were a couple of snaps that it did, and I thought our guys reacted to it pretty well. Fortunately for us, that issue that we had two weeks ago didn’t occur. But we have another challenge this week. When they put in Dion Lewis, he is the same kind of guy, so we are going to have to make sure that we are on top of it as well.”
Q: How much of Chris Jones moving around was by necessity, having guys injured versus gaining experience?
SPAGNUOLO: “A little bit of both. I want to say that just before he got injured, we were headed that way. I don’t know if it ended up occurring in a game or not, I can’t remember, but I know that we had talked about it. Certainly, when he came back last week, we didn’t have all of our defensive ends, so he helped us out there.”
Q: It seems like Derrick Nnadi is becoming more and more of a factor. What have you seen in his growth?
SPAGNUOLO: “He has been a real pro. Second year, you get their rookie mistakes out of the way in the first year. I think he has found comfort in the fact that he is a starter. He plays a lot of reps, so he gets a lot of work at things. I really think that (Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach) Brendan Daly has done a great job with him. That’s a two-way street because Derrick really has embraced the coaching from Coach Daly. I think he gets better and better every week. He has been really solid for us.”
Q: What were your initial thoughts on Nnadi when you first got here and what did you think he needed?
SPAGNUOLO: “I liked him. What he needed? I’m not really sure. Brendan and I talked about it. I just trusted our D-line coach. I did like him. I remember when we evaluated all of the players that I was impressed with him. He wasn’t a household name, but I did think that he was a solid football player, and he has played that way.”
Q: Each week, how much do you rely on Tyrann Mathieu to get everyone set up and how much trust do you have in him?
SPAGNUOLO: “A lot. He is a leader. I think the guys feel comfortable with him. The two guys back there that really unwind it for us and get everybody lined up are really Hitch (Anthony Hitchens) and Tyrann. Listen, they embrace those roles, and they’re really good at it. They’re cerebral players. They can slow the game down within the game and help everybody else out. So, it’s been good.”
Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu
Q: What have you thought about how Juan Thornhill is playing?
MATHIEU: “He’s coming along. He’s making some big tackles for us. A lot of the things he does may not necessarily show up on the stat sheet but he’s communicating well. Like I said, he’s making some big plays for us.”
Q: As guys are coming back and getting healthier, do you think the defense has become fast and relentless as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said you all would be?
MATHIEU: “Yeah, no doubt. I think everybody plays hard. I think we have all been playing hard since the beginning of the season. It’s more so us being consistent within the scheme and guys believing in the person next to them. Trusting the calls and trusting that the guy next to them will do their job. I think more so it’s consistently doing our jobs and I think it’s helping guys play much, much faster.”
Q: Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) said he relies on you and Anthony Hitchens to communicate to the guys on the field. What is the communication like between you and Hitch?
MATHIEU: “It’s getting much better. Me and Hitch have never played with each other, so I’m getting a good feel for him and he’s getting a good feel for me. So, the more and more me and Hitch can be on the same page and see things, it will help the other nine guys play faster and be aware or even anticipate some situations and what is going on.”
Q: The majority of the DB group has never played together and there’s a new defensive coordinator. How much of the improvement has been getting more familiar with each other?
MAHTIEU: “I think for the most part, especially in the back end, we’re getting more comfortable playing different coverages. There’s a lot of different schemes in the NFL, a lot are the same just with little technical differences. I think we’re getting good grips on how to play certain coverages, what’s our help, what’s our advantage and what things can possibly hurt us. It’s been helping us play faster and stay closer to our man even when we aren’t in man and we’re in zone. It’s been coming along.”