The Kansas City Chiefs will face some big challenges when they face the Los Angeles Chargers on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 11.
Stopping the run has been a big theme for the team in recent weeks, facing Titans RB Derrick Henry and Jaguars RB Travis Etienne in back-to-back weeks. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Steve Spagnuolo spoke on defending the run and addressed some of the challenges the team will face when they travel to play the Chargers.
“Yeah, I do know this, I was really impressed with the Tennessee (game),” Spagnuolo said. “I think it was the second quarter that got a little bit shaky, but I talked about that this week. When our mindset is right and as a unit collectively we say, ‘We’re going to stop this. We’re not going to let them do that,’ and get some good leaders in that regard, I think we can do that. This week it might be a little bit (of a) different challenge because they’ve got all kinds of threats and another — wouldn’t you know — another really good quarterback (Justin Herbert). But yeah, (I’m) happy with the way we played the run.”
As for the really good quarterback they’ll face, Spagnuolo says he’s never gone about comparing Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes. That’s not a slight against Herbert, who Spagnuolo believes can do anything and everything at the quarterback position.
“I think (Justin Herbert) is pretty good,” Spagnuolo said. “He can do anything you can ask a quarterback to do. I think he’s managing the game real well. In our game, because you go back and look at him, he gets protections right, he gets the ball out quick, he’s a big guy. He’s hard to bring down. It was last year, Nick (Bolton) had him down at the goal line, but he took off. He couldn’t even get the guy down, but he gets (the throw) off. It was last year, right? So, I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
The team also won’t be overlooking Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, who has really come on in recent weeks. Against the Chiefs back in Week 2, the defense held Ekeler to 39 yards on 14 carries, but they struggled to defend him in the passing game, with nine receptions on 10 targets for 55 yards. Ekeler has scored multiple touchdowns in all but two games since Week 4.
“Yeah, and it’s as much as the run part of it as it is his throwing, right? He’s become, obviously, a ‘favorite’ of – was always a favorite of – the quarterback’s, but when they had a couple of guys down, his tick as far as targets went way up,” Spagnuolo said. “(He’s) a guy that we’re concerned about. A guy that we’ve talked about. We’ll work third down (Thursday) and 30’s (Austin Ekeler) going to be the first thing I put up. On Wednesday, yesterday morning, was everybody needs to know who 30 is. Linemen included. That’s how much we respect him and how good he is.”
Whether Mike Williams and Keenan Allen play on Sunday remains to be seen, but the Chiefs will have their hands full with Herbert and Ekeler no matter what.