he most polarizing player for the Kansas City Chiefs this year has been safety Daniel Sorensen. The man Chiefs Kingdom calls “Dirty Dan” is beloved by many, however, his struggles in the secondary this season have put him at the forefront of criticism directed at Kansas City’s defense.
Through five weeks of the regular season, Sorensen has been one of the worst players at his position in the entire NFL. He has graded out at 35.0 by PFF, which ranks at 83 out of 85 qualified players at the safety position. His play is part of the reason why the Chiefs defense ranks near the bottom of the league in most major statistical categories, like yards per game allowed (31st), points per game allowed (32.6), and turnovers forced (26th), per ESPN.
Sorensen’s play has caused one Chiefs fan, in particular, to try and get him out of Kansas City, creating a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy out Sorensen’s contract with the Chiefs.
After five weeks of numerous big plays that have been given up the Chiefs defense, several of which involved a lapse in coverage or poor tackling by Sorensen, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo sounded off on the criticism directed at the veteran safety.
ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!
Spags: It’s Not About One Guy
When asked about what opposing teams have seen from Sorensen on tape that has allowed them to attack him and succeed on game day, Spagnuolo chose not to point the blame at Sorensen.
“First of all — it’s not about one guy. To focus on one person I don’t think is fair,” Spagnuolo said during his press conference on Thursday, October 14. “Did struggle a little bit last week? Yeah. And to answer your question about more snaps and what not — a guy has a starting position, we think he’s been doing a good job with that.
“Sometimes when you have plays that, to the eye of everyone in there look worse than other ones, nobody sees the plays that he’s making when you’re covering somebody and they don’t throw it there. That’s always been the case. So, I’m not going to go too deep into it, but I think Dan’s had a lot of good snaps for us, Juan [Thornhill] will play for us as well.”
Later in his presser, Spags was asked about potentially making some changes at the free safety position.
“We’ll see how the week progresses, but we’re always looking at that, we’ve looked at that every week,” he said. “We’re always trying to put people in right spots and the right players out there, that’s no different than any other week.”
Merritt on Secondary’s Play
Defensive backs coach Dave Merritt met with the media on Thursday as well and got into specifics on what he’s seen from the Kansas City secondary that has led to their poor performance this season.
“Good question. I just think right now there’s a lot of guys that are playing with poor eye leverage and just reading their keys,” Merritt said. “One of the things that I talk about all the time is alignment, techniques, keys, and assignment. So, when you go into these games and you have a particular alignment that you should be following, you have to make sure you do that, and when it comes to your keys, that’s the eye discipline. So, that’s really the issues that have been going on, just some of that eye discipline.”
Merritt also used a great analogy to explain what he meant by eye leverage and focusing on one player.
“If you chase two rabbits, you’re going to miss both of them,” he said. “But if you can focus in — I use the analogy all the time in golf because I love golf — if you can pick a small target to focus in on, your success rate goes way up.”
With Kansas City now sitting a 2-3 on the season and last place in the AFC West, it’s time some major changes happen for them defensively. Whether it’s changing the way they facilitate their scheme under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the players they are utilizing and the capacity in which they are utilized, or signing a free agent and/or making a trade for a defensive playmaker, an adjustment of some sort needs to be made.
The Chiefs will try and climb back to .500 in Week 6 when they take on the Washington Football Team on the road on Sunday, October 17.