The defense has taken center stage this season for the Kansas City Chiefs through their first nine games. The unit has shown grit and resilience through critical moments and clinched victories as the team heads into Week 11 with a 7-2 record.
Chiefs defensive back coach Dave Merritt has worked closely with the secondary and the team’s top cornerback, L’Jarius Sneed. The veteran defensive back is usually charged with covering the top receiver on opposing teams but has struggled with committing penalties. During Friday’s press conference, Merritt discussed the team’s plan to help alleviate the penalized plays for Sneed moving forward.
“Yeah, I think the first thing for L.J. (L’Jarius Sneed) is at the line of scrimmage; nothing is going to change other than lowering his target,” Merritt explained. “He may have had one that was called hands to the face, but the majority of his penalties are going downfield when he’s in phase. And so with that being said, not to get too technical, what LJ is going to have to do and what we’ve been working on and even started working on last week, and hopefully start clicking in is once he’s in phase running down the field with a wide receiver.
“He has to know right now that at that point in time, as you’re reading your keys when that wide receiver sinks his hip, you have to make sure that you just pump the arms. But what he’s doing is grabbing, he’s reaching, trying to just hold on almost like a little kid with due to a mommy or daddy when they’re trying to run away from him.”
Sneed has been flagged 12 times this season for holding and pass interference. Merritt and the coaching staff believe he can still get past the infractions and turn it around in the second half of the year.
“He’s like grabbing. And so he’s just got to trust that my ability is good enough to run the route with him,” said Merritt, “And so, that’s one of the things we’re working on. But the majority of them, again, are happening once he gets in phase downfield. So that’s what we’re working on.”
The Chiefs secondary will have to deal with several weapons from the Philadelphia Eagles this Monday in the much-anticipated Super Bowl rematch.