Beating the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead will be no small task. Some may even argue impossible.
But Broncos safety Justin Simmons would not be among those.
This team can absolutely beat KC but it has to “do a whole lot better” than its 75 percent effort last time around at Mile High when the Broncos were throttling Patrick Mahomes into the fourth quarter. But the second-year standout unleashed his wrath in the final quarter and got the better of a tired defense that couldn’t seem to tackle anyone.
Buoyed by a dominant game against the Cardinals, the Broncos defense is planning for a different outcome this time around.
“Obviously to hold them under 30 points is good, but we could have done even better than that. And that’s the part of the tape that we look at,” Simmons told Ryan Edwards & Co. on Orange and Blue Radio’s “1st & 10 @ 10.”
While the Broncos remain the only team to so far hold the Chiefs under 30 points of offense, Simmons believes once again it’s going to be the defense that has to win the game.
“Like we said last time, if we want to win this game, it’s going to come down to us defensively, and we didn’t get it done in the fourth quarter. This time it’s the same recipe,” Simmons added. “It’s going to come down to us - not only holding them to less points but creating more turnovers, creating more opportunities for the offense to have more time of possession and more chances to move the ball down the field. If we’re going to win in KC that’s what it’s going to take.”
A possible tweak this time around could be seeing more Simmons in the slot again - a position Simmons said he loves playing.
“We might. We might,” the safety said after Andrew Mason asked if fans would see him playing slot corner more now. “I definitely love doing it. We have the best nickel corner in the game; learning from him every day is awesome.”
.@ChrisHarrisJr recorded his fourth career pick-six in #DENvsAZ — tied for second-most in #Broncos history. pic.twitter.com/GIvCmN2dho— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 20, 2018
Even coach Vance Joseph hinted on Monday that Simmons - who has played every defensive snap of the season so far - may be used that way on Sunday.
“He’s good football player, he’s very smart. He allows us to play some base versus three-wide because he can cover the slot for the most part,” Joseph noted. “He’s guy that’s valuable to us - as a leader, as a guy that can cover slots and as a blitzer that plays the ball from the high zone. He’s definitely a good football player for us.”
Of course, the main question for that position will be how to handle the tight ends because the one who plays for the Chiefs is pretty good.
Simmons compared covering the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski with Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and noted that while Gronk can catch anything while also being aggressive and “pushing off” because he can’t get great separation, Kelce is more of a shifty target, using the finesse of his footwork to make him tough to tackle.
“Kelce is very similar [to Gronk] but more of an elusive tight end,” Simmons said. “He has that twitch to be able to get open. Not the push-off type of guy. Nine times out of 10, he likes to make his feet work for him.”
Simmons added that studying how each tight end plays man versus zone concepts is key to learning how to cover them.
But when it comes to actually bringing them down, you just “get them down no matter what it takes.”
Sounds like an excellent game plan for the entire defense on Sunday.
The guys on 1st & 10 @ 10 also did a great interview with Shamarko Thomas who was a beast on special teams last week against the Cardinals.
But it’s worth a listen just for the exchange between Steve Atwater and Thomas when the Pro-Bowl-should-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame safety asks Thomas where he learned “to throw his 5-foot-9, 205-pound body around like that?”
“Just watching guys like ... well, YOU!”