The Chiefs secondary came into week four hurt and short-handed. That didn’t stop them from putting on a show. This may have come as a surprise to some, but not the man who assembled what looks to be a scary unit moving forward.
Isn’t one of the best things in life seeing a well-executed plan unfold? Careful preparation, attention to detail, long hours spent making tough decisions, and when it all pays off, the best feeling in the world. I would imagine that those are the feelings Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach was experiencing when watching Monday nights defensive domination over the New England Patriots. More specifically, he had to feel that way when watching a less than full strength Chiefs secondary come out and put on a clinic against the Patriots.
The secondary unit was missing last year’s starter Baushaud Breeland (serving the last game of his four-game suspension), and rookie standout L’Jarius Sneed who is missing significant time with a collar bone injury. Charvarious Ward was still less than healthy, still dealing with a wrist injury form week one against the Houston Texans.
This would put a lot of responsibility on the Chiefs’ dynamic starting safety duo, Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill, as well as second-year corner Rashad Fenton. If the Patriots thought they could take advantage of a battered unit, they were highly mistaken. Brett Veach’s image for the Chiefs secondary was on full display.
Every great unit needs a leader and the Chiefs found an excellent one in Mathieu, who recorded his first pick-six as a Chief, to all but seal the game.
Mathieu’s heart and football IQ will never be questioned and the All-Pro performer is what makes the entire defense click. He has been everything Brett Veach wanted and more. Having him be able to defend the slot week in and week out as well as make plays on the ball, and defend the run have helped the Chiefs enormously. Mathieu is in the peak of his career, but the Chiefs’ other safety has also proved to be just as capable.
Juan Thornhill was the Chiefs’ best rookie last season, and despite a torn ACL in week 17 against the Los Angeles Chargers last year, he looks to be back to form. Thornhill has electric speed when tracking the ball and has shown he can run with the best of them. His tackling looked back to form this week after some early struggles.
Having two safeties that can cover like the Mathieu and Thornhill, as well as have the capability to go after the ball make the jobs of the corners a lot less complicated, and that is what Veach wants, and it profiles with what Steve Spagnuolo wants out of this unit.
All of the Chiefs corners profile very similarly, long, physical players, who can jam and press at the LOS, and who do not make it easy to catch the ball. Rashad Fenton showed he belonged right with the likes of Ward, Breeland, and Sneed by having his best game yet.
This unit has only gotten stronger as time has gone on, but with Breeland back this week it will get even better. Sneed should be back sometime in early December, which will likely allow Fenton to move back inside where he could excel more despite showing his ability as an outside corner. The best for the Chiefs secondary is yet to come. Brett Veach is too smart.