Watching the Chiefs struggling from the sidelines has not been easy for veteran linebacker Joe Mays. So when he got his first opportunity to start this weekend, you better believe he was ready.
Mays played 34 snaps on defense and nine on special teams in Sunday’s 17-14 loss at Arizona. He had previously appeared in five games since coming off wrist surgery in August. He tallied five tackles including one for loss.
“It felt great just getting back to playing football and being out there with the guys,” Mays said. “Getting a big role felt great.”
Now that he has his first Chiefs start under his belt, Mays, a seven-year NFL veteran, says he will try to bring his brand of physical defense to help stop the run, which has been an uncharacteristic struggle the past three weeks.
Until a loss at Oakland in week 12, the Chiefs had not given up a rushing touchdown. They gave up two there, but the struggles really started the week before, when they allowed 204 yards against the Seahawks. The Raiders gained 179, the Broncos dinged them for 214 and the Cardinals rushed for 141 — an average of 184.5 yards in four games. They held opponents to 115.5 rushing yards per game in their first nine.
“It’s all about gap play and being technique-sound,” Mays said. “(It’s about) playing blocks, getting off blocks, running to the ball and making tackles. I think it’s all fundamental football. It’s something we can fix, but we have to fix it here quick because we only have three games left.”
Mays was at his best in the 2011 season, when he had 64 tackles in 16 games for Denver. His 2012 campaign was ended early because of a broken leg, and he registered just seven tackles in six games But he bounced back last year with Houston and had 42 tackles in 14 games.
“I bring a physical style of defense,” Mays said. “That is how I was born and bred to play the game.”
He also brings experience from two previous seasons with coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia at the start of his career. He said that Reid’s calm and collected demeanor is the approach the team needs going into the final stretch of the season.
“The one thing Coach Reid is, is patient,” Mays said. “It is great to have a coach like that because if he is not panicking, we can’t be panicking. He is going to attack his job the same way every day and we have to do the same.”