KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs coordinators and safety Tyrann Mathieu spoke to the media Thursday. Following are their comments.
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH / SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR DAVE TOUB
Q: What stands out about the Texans’ special teams units?
TOUB: “Very well coached, number one. Brad Seely has been doing it a long time. The kicker, he has struggled a little bit. He missed a couple of extra points and a couple of field goals, but hopefully he doesn’t figure it out until next week. The punter is a veteran. (Bryan) Anger, he’s been there for three weeks and he is punting well. Overall, a really good unit. Fast. Hands are full, as usual.”
Q: How has the punting game evolved, especially from a coverage standpoint?
TOUB: “Overall, the emphasis on special teams has gotten better. Better players. I’ve seen it in my 19 years in the NFL. It’s really changed. You get guys like Devin Hester, everybody has them now so everybody has to have somebody that can cover and tackle these guys. It has really changed a lot. Prime example is looking at the rules. The rule used to be, like if the ball was kicked inside of the 10-yard line, you let it go. It’s not like that anymore because the punters are so good that the ball hits and stops and it’s going to be on the 1-yard line. If you don’t catch it on the five, it’s going to end up on the 1. Guys are there to catch it and the punter is going to make that ball stop and roll back. It’s like automatic now. There’s a reason why you see returners catching the balls inside of the 10-yard line now. It’s not always a clear-cut rule.”
Q: Do you have a rule similar to that?
TOUB: “We have a rule. If you think it’s going to go in the endzone, you let it go. If it’s going to come down on the 5-yard line, you field it because it’s going to end up on the 1-yard line. That’s what happened with De’Anthony (Thomas) the other day. He fielded that ball and he’s doing exactly what I wanted him to do. Yeah, is there a chance that it could go into the endzone? Yes, but there is more of a chance that it’s going to end up on the 1-yard line. We tell our guys to go ahead and field it, because our offense would rather play at the 5-yard line than on the 1-yard line.”
Q: You mentioned that there are now better players playing on special teams. Are head coaches getting better special teams players on the roster or is it that the rosters are more talented overall?
TOUB: “I just think that everybody is learning how important it is. Those backup players, they have to be good offensive and defensive players, but they have to be good special teams players, as well. They have to show the effort on the field. The coaches are giving the special teams players more time to practice. We’re having walk-throughs. We’re getting more time. It makes a big difference. The overall play is getting better and better every year.”
Q: If Tyreek Hill returns this week, will he contribute to special teams right away?
TOUB: “He would play on offense, for sure. I haven’t really gotten an answer yet. It’s not that I’m pressing it, either. We’ll wait and see. We’ll just be glad to get him back on the field active. That’s the first step. Once we get that then we’ll see where we are. But again, we have other guys that can do it. Tyreek is exceptional.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR ERIC BIENIEMY
Q: Is there anything that you’ve noticed over the past three weeks that has been the issue in terms of getting more positive yards in the run game?
BIENIEMY: “At the end of the day, we just have to line up and play better football. It starts with us as coaches. We have to make sure that we’re putting a good gameplan together. But then on top of that, our guys just have to go out there and execute and play. I’ve said this each and every week as I’ve sat here at the podium, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. That defense across the field from us, they’re going to line up and do what they’re expected to do. So at the end of the day, we have to be better. It’s an attitude. It’s a determined mindset to get it done. That’s the focus this week. Yes, we have got to be better upfront. On top of that, the backs have to run it.”
Q: Is it fair to say that you and Travis Kelce are OK?
BIENIEMY: “One thing I will say, Trav is a very passionate individual. I think you guys have figured out and gotten to know me over the years. I love what I do. I enjoy it. This is what I do. I eat, breathe and sleep football. I’ve been doing this since the age of six. Played the game. I’ve been very passionate. What you see is what you get. One thing I do, I hold all of my guys to a higher standard. I expect them to be at their best. Now, for whatever reason, whatever happened and took place, at the end of the day, we keep it moving because we have bigger fish to fry. We have an opponent that we need to go out and play against this week. That’s the focus. That’s the mindset. But, I hold all of our guys to a higher standard. I coach hard, but I coach fair. At the end of the day, the only thing that I want us to do is to be at our very best at all times.”
Q: What have you seen from Byron Pringle thus far?
BIENIEMY: “Pringle’s doing one hell of a job. He’s been one of our players for two years now. We expect Pringle to be at his best. I know that we have had some injuries but we expect the next guy to step up and do one hell of a job. Pringle stepped up last week and played big. We expect that from all of our guys. It doesn’t matter where you’re located on that depth chart, we expect our great players to be great and we expect our backup players to play important roles, and to step in and assume that role when given that opportunity to do so.”
Q: This will be the sixth time in seven years that you guys have played the Texans and Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel. What is a defining characteristic about a Romeo Crennel defense?
BIENIEMY: “Tough. Hard-nosed. They get after it. They are going to fight to the finish. They’re structurally sound. They don’t make mistakes. You have to go out and beat them. We have to go out there and play assignment-sound football to give ourselves a chance. That’s what the focus is this week. Let’s make sure that we’re doing the little things that we need to do in order to help us accomplish the goal this week.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEVE SPAGNUOLO
OPENING STATEMENT: “Good afternoon. I don’t have a lot to say. We’re looking forward to playing this next opponent coming off last week’s game. Certainly when that happens you want to get back in and play another game. We look forward to that. With that I’ll open it up.”
Q: Will Mo Claiborne get more snaps moving forward?
SPAGNUOLO: “We’ll see. I would think that would be a safe statement. I mean that’s hopeful. Probably rotate all three of those guys through there would be the plan.”
Q: In the past month, what have you identified as the issue in defending the run?
SPAGNUOLO: “It’s everything. Usually when that happens like that it’s not one thing. You can’t put your finger on it. To us, we just go right back to the basics. It’s about defeating blocks, getting off blocks and making tackles. That’s the run game and overpopulating the ball. Which I think we’ve done a good job of but its been an issue here and there. It’s been identified. When we get out there, we try to tackle them all.”
Q: How much does attitude play in this?
SPAGNUOLO: “Always. It’s everything. I know everybody is looking for a specific reason. There is no specific reason. If there’s 20 plays in there that cause issues that are over four- or five-yard runs there may be 20 different reasons. So, you just keep playing and you do all the things you’re talking about. You make tackles and get to the football. That’s what you do.”
Q: What’s the impact of not having Chris Jones, we get the next man up thing, but what’s the impact?
SPAGNUOLO: “I mean of course Chris is a good football player for us. Anytime that happens and you lose a guy that has had a foundation of the reps in a new system and then somebody else goes in there that doesn’t have a foundation of reps, that becomes challenging. Everybody in the league goes through it, every team goes through it and we have to find a way to overcome it.”
Q: What did you see from Khalen Saunders in his first game?
SPAGNUOLO: “He’s a rookie playing in his first regular-season game. There was a couple plays there that I think he would like to have back and play a little bit better but it wasn’t too big for him. He hung in there. We were fighting a lot of things last Sunday. A bunch of injuries. You lose your Mike linebacker, two tackles, but he stepped up there and I thought he did an adequate job.”
S TYRANN MATHIEU
Q: How much easier does it make it for you to have Morris Claiborne, someone who you are familiar with?
MATHIEU: “He’s a physical corner and I trust him, especially when he’s out there. I think anytime you can trust the guy next to you, it helps everybody play faster. It was good to get him back last week. He did some good things for us.”
Q: You played with Deshaun Watson last year, what are some similarities and differences between him and Patrick Mahomes?
MATHIEU: “1A and 1B in my humble opinion. His everyday approach and his consistency reminds me a lot of Patrick. Doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. He never looks at the scoreboard. He always feels like he is capable of getting his team back into the game. Definitely a very good quarterback.”
Q: What’s it been like for you to play on a defense that hasn’t always been the best and you haven’t been able to lift these guys up like you have in the past or the way you would like to?
MATHIEU: “It’s a challenge within itself. I’m in the business of building people up and that may take some time. Guys are still getting used to my leadership as well. It’s going to be a collective effort on everybody’s part to buy into what we need to get done defensively.”