Red Zone

A conversation with Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton

New Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton spoke on a teleconference today. Here some of the highlights:

On what he’s done during his first week on the job:

“I’ve been sitting here the last couple of days trying to go through the players. (Linebackers coach ) Gary Gibbs and (secondary coach) Emmitt Thomas have been here, so we looked at the DBs and linebackers a little bit. We’ve got some pieces in place. We have some areas we have to improve on, but first learn our guys, and first try to learn our guys and when we sit down with the coaches, go through the system we want to put together, we’ll have a better understanding of our talent.

“One of the most important things in coaching is figure out who you are and not who you want to be. We have to take advantage of the talent in place and try to use that as a starting point. You don’t have to junk the system but slant it or tilt it in the direction of your strengths.”

Sutton said he went through a similar transition with the Jets when Rex Ryan took over as head coach.

“We were the exact same defense they played here the last couple of years under Romeo (Crennel). It’s a great system of defense, the true 3-4. When Rex came into the Jets, it had many similarities to this, but has a little more multiple and more schematically how we lined up. A lot of the principles stayed the same in how our up-front players attacked blockers. It’s got to be tailored to the personnel here. It’s 3-4 based, but more multiple (looks) than what I had done in New York or what Romeo ran here.

“A lot of the players have the characteristics we’re looking for.”

On inheriting a defense with three Pro Bowlers in outside linebacker Tamba Hali, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry:

“We’ve got some good football players here and guys who played well played hard were physical, those two attributes are ones everyone in our league wants to have on defense. If you’re physical, tough-minded, serve you well for a long time. Those parts are here. That’s encouraging and exciting.”

On having pass rushers like Justin Houston (10 sacks) and Hali (9):

“They’re exciting guys coming off the edge. One of the things I learned from Rex is it’s great to have sacks, but the key thing is to hit the quarterback. You’re trying to affect the quarterback and not let him feel comfortable. The bottom line is we don’t want that guy standing back there and feeling comfortable. We’re fortunate to have two guys that Gary and the staff did a great job with. They’ve been productive.

"They would add to the things we did in New York. You can mix it up and even when you’re pressuring you still get blocked, and you need guys who can beat blocks. It would be great if you get a free shot, but that doesn’t happen often. You need guys whether it’s coming through pressure or unconventional means to get there, you still need people to defeat a blocker and get to that quarterback. We’ve got two guys who have proven they are capable of doing that.”