In un­friendly set­ting at KC, Birds hop­ing de­fense leads

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

The Ea­gles and the Kansas City Chiefs have few se­crets.

The only thing they don’t know is who leaves Ar­row­head Sta­dium Sun­day with a per­fect record (1 p.m., Fox29, WIP 94.1-FM).

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 8-3 against his for­mer as­sis­tants. Ea­gles coach Doug Ped­er­son, who was Reid’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for three years, is un­de­feated in Septem­ber.

The Ea­gles should ben­e­fit from such re­sources as quar­ter­back Nick Foles, who spent last sea­son with the Chiefs; as­sis­tant de­fen­sive backs coach Dino Vasso, the Ri­d­ley High prod­uct who coached un­der Reid; and even De’Vante Bausby, the for­mer Chiefs cor­ner­back the Birds added to the prac­tice squad. The Chiefs have, what’s this, de­fen­sive tackle Ben­nie Lo­gan, who played for the Ea­gles last year?

“We’ve done ev­ery­thing we can at this point,” Foles said. “Now we’ve got to go play. I know how hard they work. I know how hard we work. So I know it’s go­ing to be a re­ally good game. We’re go­ing to be go­ing at each other. So it will be fun. And it’s go­ing to go down to ex­e­cu­tion. Who ex­e­cutes the game plan bet­ter, ex­e­cutes the goal for that week bet­ter?”

√Special Teams Coach­ing In­tan­gi­bles


Doug Ped­er­son is 4-0 in Septem­ber. Andy

Reid is 8-3 coach­ing against one of his as­sis­tants. Both teams lost a key com­po­nent in the sec­ondary last week. All of which makes this a one-pos­ses­sion game. Un­for­tu­nately for the Ea­gles, Ar­row­head sta­dium is the home of the frus­tra­tion time­out. Make it Chiefs 27, Ea­gles 21.

Reid’s rep­u­ta­tion for prepa­ra­tion and his ef­fec­tive­ness in games where he has ex­tra time to pre­pare are be­com­ing le­gend. It’s been 10 days since the Chiefs trounced the Pa­tri­ots, 42-27, in their opener in New Eng­land.

The Ea­gles are com­ing off a 30-17 win at Wash­ing­ton. Cou­pled with the mas­tery of for­mer as­sis­tants, that can’t be good.

“For who?” Ea­gles safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins said. “If I was a bet­ting man, I’d say he’s prob­a­bly due a loss. I think there’s fa­mil­iar­ity on both sides. I don’t know if it’s that much of an ad­van­tage. The good thing is they don’t run our de­fense. It is a dif­fer­ent de­fense. They might know our of­fense but not nec­es­sar­ily our de­fense.”

The Ea­gles’ de­fense lim­ited the Red­skins to 264 yards, in­clud­ing 64 rush­ing, and col­lected four take­aways. Bran­don Gra­ham con­tributed two sacks to turbo-charge the pass rush. His strip sack set up Fletcher Cox for a de­fen­sive touch­down. Cox had a strip sack, too.

Quar­ter­back Alex Smith and the Chiefs were ex­tra­or­di­nary their first time out. The 42 points were the most ever against the Pa­tri­ots with Bill Belichick as head coach.

Rookie run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt bounced back from a fum­ble on his first touch to reg­is­ter 246 yards from scrim­mage and three touch­downs. Tyreek Hill added seven re­cep­tions for 133 yards, in­clud­ing a 75yard TD.

The Ea­gles’ lineback­ers checked their op­po­nent out over steak a cou­ple of Thurs­days ago at Del’Frisco’s.

“They do have some fire­power,” Nigel Brad­ham said. “We know some of their top play­ers. Travis Kelce had a great game. They have Tyreek Hill. And they’ve got the new run­ning back, Ka­reem Hunt, who had a big game. So we’ve def­i­nitely got to be pre­pared for him be­cause we know they’re go­ing to try to give him the ball. And then the quar­ter­back, Smith. Can’t for­get about the game man­ager. So we’ve got to get him off his spot and not let him man­age the game.”

The Ea­gles dis­posed of a seven-game road los­ing streak in Wash­ing­ton to set the tone for the sea­son. To beat the Chiefs, they’ve got to stop the run, and that starts with playing tech­ni­cally sound de­fense.

“The big­gest thing for us, I think, is they do a lot to get you un­set­tled whether it be mo­tion, shifts, gad­get plays, mis­di­rec­tion,” Jenk­ins said. “Get­ting lined up, know­ing your as­sign­ment and tak­ing care of only your as­sign­ment and trust­ing the next guy to do his job helps. When guys start over­play­ing or they get the de­fense mov­ing around too much, that’s when you get gashed. And if you can weather that storm, they get pretty vanilla.

“If you strug­gle with it, you’ll see it all game long. I think that’s what you saw ver­sus the Pa­tri­ots. They never re­ally got com­fort­able with all of the jet sweeps, the mo­tions, the guys in dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions and so they kept see­ing it. As you watch the tape you’re see­ing this is lit­er­ally the same play over and over again and they just couldn’t match it.”

The Ea­gles also would help them­selves es­tab­lish­ing a ground game. The Pa­tri­ots gave up on the run and wound up one-di­men­sional.

Big back LeGar­rette Blount thinks the Ea­gles are close to a break­out rush­ing game. Of­fen­sive tackle Lane John­son echoed his team­mate.

“It’s one block, re­ally, away from break­ing a long run,” John­son said. “This place we’re go­ing to is so loud, if we can get the run game go­ing, take the crowd out of the game, it can re­ally be good for us. If we move the ball early, get a few touch­downs, get up and take the crowd out of it that would be re­ally ben­e­fi­cial for us.”

If the Chiefs get off to a good start, the Ea­gles will know what the Pa­tri­ots felt like. Hill, Towns, Kelce and De’An­thony Thomas can fly. The last thing the Ea­gles need is to see Kelce, whose brother Ja­son starts at cen­ter for the vis­i­tors, launch into a new TD cel­e­bra­tion.

And of course, there’s the le­gend of Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

“It’s one of the loud­est sta­di­ums,” said Bausby, who grew up in Kansas City. “The fans, they take pride in be­ing loud and crazy. You see teams tak­ing frus­tra­tion time­outs and bang­ing their hel­mets be­cause they can’t hear and stuff like that. The re­ceivers, when they’re bunched up, they’re ask­ing the guy next to them, ‘what did he say, what did he audi­ble too?’ It gets crazy. And the fans, they feed into it, they love it, they go crazy when they see stuff like that.

“Es­pe­cially a frus­tra­tion time­out, they go nuts.”


Ea­gles de­fen­sive end Chris Long, left, and safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins led the ef­fort to sub­due Kirk Cousins and Wash­ing­ton last week. Given the fa­mil­iar­ity of Kansas City skip­per Andy Reid with pro­tege and Ea­gles coach Doug Ped­er­son, the Birds de­fense...

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