Thornhill or Sorensen: Who starts against the Bills?

Thornhill or Sorensen, it seems to be the hottest debate of the first quarter of the season for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sorensen had a great camp and impressed all of the coaches. Mathieu can’t seem to stop complimenting his work ethic and told the press he is the most hard-working player he has ever met. Sorensen is also one of the heroes of the playoff run towards the Super Bowl in 2020, and he is often considered underrated.

The only fact the Kansas City Chiefs chose him over Juan Thornhill was quite surprising at first.

Sorensen led the league in missed tackles after week 2, but the Chiefs sounded like they would have trusted him some more.

In August of 2019, as he spoke about then-rookie safety Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo admitted he wasn’t too keen on starting rookies right away. If Thornhill were to start as the team’s safety next to veteran Tyrann Mathieu, he would have to earn it during training camp.

The same year, Thornhill earned his spot in the roster alongside Tyrann Mathieu and really showed his skills. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the final regular-season game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He had surgery but had a hard time recovering the following season. According to him, he was not himself.

This season though, and after a spectacular diving interception during the preseason, Thornhill started on week one alongside Daniel Sorensen, Mathieu being out with COVID-19. Juan played 95 % of the team’s defensive snaps, recording seven tackles and two game-changing plays in the second half.

However, on game two, Thornhill played only 11 defensive plays in the Chiefs’ 36-35 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

“Juan’s done a good job,” said Spagnuolo when pressed about Thornhill’s role. “He’s had spurts of good football. But what you’re asking about is a position change — a position change has got to be merited when somebody’s not playing well, when we need improvement there.”

Well, isn’t Sorensen’s lead in missed tackles a real red flag?

“What I think that is with Dan is just a little bit coming under control,” said Spagnuolo. “The one thing we love about Dan is he’s not going to miss a tackle being soft — that’s not a bad thing… I’d have to go back, but I’m almost certain the same thing happened to Dan last year, and then he became really one of our consistent, most aggressive tacklers. We’re not ready to panic on that right now, and I know he’s not.”

So Juan did not have a chance to start on week three.

“Juan’s done some good things for us; he just needs to earn his way back,” added Spagnuolo.

Moving forward, Thornhill will more likely have more opportunities to get more snaps. It’s just a matter of matchups, health, and performance according to Coach Spagnuolo.

Is there a palpable tension between the team and Thornhill?

Thornhill may have more raw talent than veteran Sorensen, that is obvious, although, temper might be a key factor in the position’s tenure. However, depriving the team of Thornhill’s talent so much seems baffling to most people around the kingdom.

He was drafted to start! He is very dynamic, makes a good duo with Mathieu, and has already proved his worth during his rookie season.

In Week 1, Thornhill played in 95 percent of the snaps. In Week 2, without any injury communication, Thornhill played in 14 percent of the snaps. That in itself is a statement from the Chiefs.

The defensive side of the ball has not been efficient so far this season, so it would be better for everyone to come up with a nice solution to fix whatever issues the Chiefs have with Thornhill.

Juan Thornhill just played a whopping 31 defensive snaps on Sunday, the most he’s played since Week 1. Is this a positive sign coming from the Chiefs’ staff? Dirty Dan better watch his back.

Against the Bills, we sense a bit more presence from Thornhill in the safety position, since his snaps have increased the past two games.

Now the Bills will enter this week with a better start (3-1) and revenge on their minds. After the AFC Championship game last season and the big Chiefs win to go to the Superbowl, the two teams have slightly different faces this season. The Chiefs defense will have to perform a lot better to stop one of the best offenses of the league. The Bills and Chiefs have each scored 33.5 points per game this year, which is tied for the second in the league.

The Josh Allen-led Bills are in position to damage deeply the Chiefs defense, that’s why an obvious change needs to be made this week. Let’s hope this Thornhill / Sorensen “situation” will not corrupt the whole defense.