Despite not being able to do any actual coaching on the field for offseason workouts, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is optimistic his unit could make another major stride forward this season.
According to Nate Taylor of TheAthletic.com, Spagnuolo said that the information they learned last year during his first year with the team as coordinator should position them well for improving upon their second half surge into the playoffs
“More than anything, myself and the coaches learning what our guys could and couldn’t do was huge,” Spagnuolo said. “Knowing the abilities of those guys already, it might keep us from having to experiment. We’ve sat here with the scheme and said, ‘OK, let’s keep this because our guys are really good at it and maybe we get rid of that and add something else in.’ The hope is that you grow in the system and you can expand.”
It took time for the players to begin to feel comfortable in Spagnuolo’s system last season. But once they did become comfortable, the improvement was obvious. Up until the team’s bye week in Week 12, the Chiefs were allowing an average of 23.3 points per game with 375.3 yards per game allowed with 143.1 yards rushing per game. After the bye and in the remaining eight games the team played through the Super Bowl, those numbers were cut drastically to just 15.9 points allowed, 318.6 total yards allowed and 99.6 rushing yards allowed.
It culminated with a scoreless final 15 minutes of the season against a potent San Francisco 49ers offense in the Super Bowl that allowed the Chiefs to win their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
The biggest challenge to continue that momentum is the inability to get together to run through plays on a field. However, every team in the league has been dealt the same hand in that regard.
“I really like being in front of a room and conversing with the players, asking them questions,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s a little bit difficult in the Webex world.”
But the Chiefs have most of their defense from last season returning for the 2020 campaign, which should help ease the growing pains for when teams are allowed to congregate again.