Q. How was your bye? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: It was good. Got a lot of stuff done. Worked for the first part of that week and got a lot of stuff done, some reflections. Got a little bit of time away with the family as well, so that was always good.
Q. Curious how much you looked at past matchups between Chiefs TE Travis Kelce and S Kevin Byard? If so, what did you see? (Jimmy Kempski)
SEAN DESAI: I would say when we were talking about bringing Kevin on, we looked at all those matchups. The tight ends and him in particular have done a good job versus those guys over there, and they have had some effectiveness.
He has done a good job in that match up.
Q. The reflections over the first year with this defense, what are the things that you noticed about what you attempted and things you could fix? (Brooks Kubena)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, I think a lot of things. We’re obviously, like I tell you guys kind of week in, we’re still growing. I think we’re still trying to get better. There are some places we’re doing really well at that we want to continue to improve on, and some of the spots we feel good coming out of the bye of really evaluating ourselves as coaches and teachers, and then trying to get our guys in good positions to make some plays a little bit more consistently.
They’ve been doing such a good job, the players I’m talking about, of executing on the field and helping us win some of these games in critical situations. We want to build on a lot of those things they have been doing well.
Q. Going back to the S Kevin Byard question, what is it that specifically leads to him successfully playing against Chiefs TE Travis Kelce? (Ed Kracz)
SEAN DESAI: I think he has a good mindset. I think he understands some of Travis’ route stems, at least off the tape I’m talking about. And then he challenges them up.
And then they had some different looks, too, from a schematic standpoint that Tennessee had done that helped him win in those situations.
Q. Speaking of growing, you haven’t used much dime this year, even when the teams have gone with ten personnel. What has been the reasoning for that. (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: I think a lot goes into that, and some of it is kind of who our bodies are, who we’re preparing for, moving around different people in the secondary and at linebacker.
And so, we have got a plan, and as we continue to build some continuity and get pieces in certain spots that we want to keep developing, we’ll keep looking at all the packages, including dime.
Q. So when a team gets a receiver matched up against a linebacker, is that okay with you because of what you’ve decided in terms of personnel? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: No, I think we’re always trying to get our best matchups on the best people. It’s always on the play caller to get the best matchups there, and even if it’s nickel people, there are different ways to adjust with scheme, which like part of the bye week, we’ll continue to improve upon in those situations as well.
Q. How do you coach against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes’ ability to not take sacks? (Dave Zangaro)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. The big emphasis for us is just understanding kind of the entirety of what we’re going up against with this opponent—and that’s a big element, obviously 15 and 87 over there are really big elements of that. It’s really about trying to disrupt his time to throw and really changing that because, like you said, he’s elite at avoiding sacks.
He really does a good job holding the ball and creating and extending plays that way and waiting for his guys to get open. That’s where they’re really artful. Our big emphasis is trying to understand that fact and get after them in different ways from a rush and coverage standpoint to impact his time to throw.
Q. As a follow up, you saw him in Chicago and Seattle; what is the week like when you start preparing for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I think obviously he’s such a special player, generational player, but our process is the process, what we do. We try not to overvalue one over another. Every week you look at your matchups and the people you’ve got to stop, and he’s a big one this week because he’s such a great player.
We take our process the same way. It’s not like, ‘oh my gosh, you’re playing these guys.’ This is the NFL, and it’s a battle every week, and we’ve seen that in the first half of our season. You’ve got to find ways to win in this league.
Q. I know you weren’t here last season, but what was your takeaway from the Super Bowl film? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: Like I said, I don’t like to speak on that. The guys really played hard at all levels of the defense and as a team. You know, one or two plays here or there that you want to make. That’s unfortunately how it went for the guys here last year.
But that’s last year. Our guys are in such a great mindset now and really looking forward to this week and really trying to beat the opponent we have ahead of us. It’s not last year’s opponent and we’re not last year’s team. That hasn’t really been part of our conversation at all, to be honest.
Q. What is Chiefs WR Rashee Rice showing on tape? (Tim McManus)
SEAN DESAI: He’s growing. His target share, his route variety, and his trust level it seems like within the offense has grown. He’s a good receiver. He can do a lot of different routes for them and catch the ball and run and create some one-cut moves and make people miss in space, so he’s done a really good job for them.
Q. What would the return of CB Bradley Roby mean for you? (Bob Brookover)
SEAN DESAI: The return of really everybody. You just want to try to keep getting the guys back and developing them. He’s a veteran player who has played a little bit for us and been around us now for a little bit. I think that will continue to help with our continuity and just getting more players back.
Q. CB Bradley Roby said the time off gave him a chance to better get acquainted with the defense. Can you see that? I know it’s been a short week. (Bob Brookover)
SEAN DESAI: Yeah, right, sure, I mean, I think so. I think like you said, the time off, the preparation, the more time in the defense, learning the defense in the meeting rooms over this time, has all helped him over this short time — you know, practice yesterday. Yes, in that short time there.
I think it’ll continue to grow for him that way, too. There is no better training than playing football, right? You’ve got to play football to be good at football. He’s played a lot of football so he’ll get back into doing that and he will continue to help us.
Q. The Chiefs use bunch formations as much as any offense in the NFL. Why do you think that is, and what are some keys to kind of not allowing that to affect you negatively? (Jeff McLane)
SEAN DESAI: That’s a great question. I think the reason why a lot of teams use a bunch formation, and I’m sure [Kansas City Chiefs Head] Coach [Andy] Reid is tremendous and is usually always one or two steps ahead of the curve offensively, is it creates matchup issues.
They’re trying to create matchups for their guys, and they rub people differently. Displacement and how people come out of the bunch impacts how you pick up the bunch, and so you got to have a really good, solid clean plan of how to pick up the variety of their bunch routes from all the displacements they come out of.
Then you got to target who you need to target and be ahead of who they’re trying to target in the bunch plan, and then you got to have those tools built up and cleaned up, which is a big point of emphasis this week, really every week, but this week in particular because of how much bunch they do, in all our coverages and making sure we’re sound there.
Q. Earlier in the year Former Eagles S Terrell Edmunds had a penalty near the sideline where Washington Commanders QB Sam Howell was running for a first down. If you let up you don’t hit him, he’s going to get the first down if you hit him, might get the late hit. What’s the coaching point on that after that play happened? I only ask that because Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes kind of has the tendency to ride the sideline, step out the last second. (Jimmy Kempski)
SEAN DESAI: The coaching point is we just try to be smart as the angles of the shoulders the guy dictates. That’s a bang-bang play. We’ve seen that play can go either way based on the interpretation of that guy is trying to gain or advance yards or if he is running out of bounds.
So, we try not to take the aggressiveness away from our players. Just try to teach them to be smart, and then the tighter we get to the sideline, we try to really push and lean and push them back as opposed to lowering shoulders.
That’s such a timing play, and Terrell did the best he could in that situation for what he did. He ended up getting a stop for us based on that, but it became a penalty. I think that’s just a judgment thing.
Just try to teach the guys the details and fundamentals when in that situation, what are the tools they can go to, to use.
Q. We haven’t seen CB James Bradberry in the nickel very much. You got away from that. Is that something you could see in certain matchups, or do you prefer him on the outside at this point? (E.J. Smith)
SEAN DESAI: I think so. I mean, he’s been tremendous in terms of his preparation. I think at this point in the season the big thing is to make sure that you have enough answers and depth, and we do, where you can move things around if you need to by matchup or whatever it is, injury, whatever it is that happens in a game.
You got to be able to adapt and adjust to that. I think our guys have done a really good job with that, to be honest with you. One of our reflections was that throughout the bye week. Our guys have done a really good job adapting and adjusting within a game to help us go win games, and I think James [Bradberry] has been a big part of that. That will continue.
Q. You got a teaching, advising background. How are your interactions? Seems like a lot of young guys on your defense. Rookies like S Sydney Brown and other guys, DT Jalen Carter and DT Jordan Davis, what are those interactions like, how do those things kind of equip you in those moments? (Brooks Kubena)
SEAN DESAI: I think they’re authentic, honest, real. We try to learn from each other and grow from each other.
I think we try to be demanding, and they understand the expectations, regardless of if you’re a rookie or not. That’s my approach to really all the players that I work with, and the staff, too. Just try to be direct and honest.
Everybody is in it for the same reason, try to get us all better and win games and do anything that we can and understanding our roles within that structure.
That’s how we develop our relationships.
Q. With LB Nakobe Dean out for a defined period of time now, do you want to settle in, two linebackers in that spot? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: As opposed to the…
Q. With LB Nakobe Dean you rotate. Is it LB Nicholas Morrow and LB Zach Cunningham now as those top two, or do you still want to rotate? (Zach Berman)
SEAN DESAI: I think that’s a discussion we have every week. The discussion really starts on Monday, Tuesday, and pretty much takes us through Thursday to Friday of a normal game week in terms of our plans to rotate and get people in.
The thing that we feel good about is whoever is involved there, and right now it’s going to be Nick and Zach and obviously we have [LB] Christian [Elliss] and [LB] Ben [VanSumeren] and all the other guys training there and that have played, is that we really believe in any of those guys, and that’s why we do it, to keep guys fresh and make sure we got the freshest, most physical guys in the critical moments at the end of the game and at the end of the year.
That’s still the philosophy overall of what we want to achieve, and however that shapes out every game is so different.