25 years ago today, Dan Marino made his comeback after missing the last 11 games of the 1993 season
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Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo rushed eight players against the Patriots’ seven-man protection and Brady threw incomplete to the end zone.
The Chiefs’ defense wants to ruin Lock’s Kansas City homecoming and will likely try to do so with myriad looks.
“They do a lot of different things, both from a pressure standpoint and a coverage standpoint,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said before practice Wednesday. “(Lock is) going to have to make some tough, correct reads and figure out where to go with the ball quickly and be able to decipher the pressures from the non-pressures.”
The Chiefs have 37 sacks this year, nine of which came in their Week 7 rout of the Broncos. On Sunday, they sacked Brady three times and forced him into 16-of-39 passing.
Spagnuolo, in his first year running the Chiefs’ defense, rolled out pressures at the right times. They rushed at least five players on 14 of the Patriots’ 41 drop-backs.
Five-man rushes: Seven. Six-man rushes: Four. Seven-man rushes: Two. And one eight-man rush.
By comparison, the Broncos’ defense has rushed 6-8 men on nine of 505 opponent drop-backs this year.
Lock said the challenge of facing the Chiefs is, “just how versatile they are and how well they hide their coverages. Especially (against) a young guy, you can’t help but feel like they’re going to heat (their pass rush) up, disguise everything and try to bring some exotic stuff.”
In the first Chiefs-Broncos game, Kansas City’s pass rush teed off on quarterback Joe Flacco. The Chiefs rushed five or more on 16 of Flacco’s 45 drop-backs (35.6%) and he was sacked eight times (the ninth sack came on a fake punt).
And it was the Chiefs’ rushers beating the Broncos’ blockers — the sacks of Flacco were in 2.71, 2.88, 3.16, 2.63, 3.27, 3.12, 3.39 and 3.13 seconds. They rushed four on four sacks, five on three sacks and seven on one sack.
Lock has been sacked twice and knocked down six times in two starts, exhibiting good awareness of when to step up in the pocket or leave it.
Just as the Broncos’ offense had an awakening against Houston (season-high 31 points in a 38-24 win ), the Chiefs’ defense has progressed under Spagnuolo.
Before their first game against the Broncos, Kansas City was 27th in yards and 19th in both passing yards and points allowed. Entering Sunday, the Chiefs are 20th, 12th and 14th in those categories.
“I really think they’ve continue to progress in this new defense,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during a conference call. “They’ve bought into what Spags is saying and they’ve worked really hard at getting better. That’s all you can ask for in a first-year situation.
“It does take a little bit of time (to transition in a new scheme). Offenses are complicated in this league and defenses are complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. I think Spags has done a phenomenal job organizing it.”
Ways to combat the Chiefs’ blitzes include screen game, quick slants and trick plays. The Patriots went to the special-play well for their two longest gains — a 37-yard Brady-to-Julian Edelman touchdown on the first possession and a 35-yard pass by running back James White to start their final drive. Block up the blitz and a big play can happen.
“You really have to focus and make sure you know your assignments,” left tackle Garett Bolles said. “(If) we catch them in a blitz and we do our job, we can gash them like teams have.”
Lock is confident he can equal parts block out the distractions of returning to his hometown and make the right protection calls to help block up the Chiefs.
“Just try to be dialed in on the film and (have a) super locked-in/no-distraction type of deal,” he said, “so I can go in and have a clear mind about what’s going on.”