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Atwater: ‘Pick your poison’ when trying to defend the Chiefs

The Hall of Fame safety is happy he’s not the one figuring out how to defend Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire.....

NFL: DEC 15 Broncos at Chiefs Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steve Atwater admitted to Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright on Broncos Country Tonight that he’d be pulling his hair out right now if it were up to him to figure out how to attack the Chiefs.

“Yeah man it’s going to be a tough game. They have speedy receivers across the board, an extremely talented tight end, really good running back without Le’Veon Bell even suiting up. You pick your poison. Do you want to blitz and go man on outside or just play zone and let Patrick Mahomes move around and find open guy. That’s why I don’t coach. I’m interested to see what kind of game plan Fangio has against those guys.”

Edwards pressed Atwater on whether he thinks the Broncos should continue blitzing since it has been working for Denver.

But the Hall-of-Fame safety wasn’t biting.

“Have we played anyone with speedy receivers like the Chiefs? Have we played anyone with a quarterback like the Chiefs? No. We haven’t,” Atwater said. “You can try whatever you want to try. I’m sure Fangio will have a good plan for them, but I’m glad it’s not me because I wouldn’t know what to do.”

In fact, Vic Fangio told the media today it’s a tough job figuring out which element of the Chiefs’ weaponry to dismantle. The goal has to be dismantling all, but that’s a near impossibility.

“The definition of a great quarterback to me—one of the definitions—is that there’s no one way to play them. You can’t go pressure heavy. You can’t just void yourself of pressure. You can’t play all man. You can’t play all zone. You’ve got to mix it up because the great quarterbacks are too good, and this quarterback is definitely great,” Fangio said. “He’s got great weapons, they’ve got a great offensive scheme, and they’re really tough to beat. There’s no one way to play them — or people would have tried it. Nobody has broken that code yet.”

Atwater agreed with the problem of blitzing all the time or not blitzing at all. One gives Mahomes the chance to scramble and find gaps in the middle while the other gives him time to find one of many speedsters downfield.

“I imagine they’ll try a little bit of everything,” Atwater said. “I’d be pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to defend this offense.”

But if there’s a defense up to the challenge, Atwater believes in Denver. Last week he mentioned wanting to see more physicality from defense, and he got that from Denver in spades against the Patriots.

“They were hustling around. Everyone was flying to the ball. And that’s what we’ll have to do this week - everybody getting to the ball on every play,” Atwater advised. “That’s how you cause fumbles, turnovers, get the guys fired up and even get the offense fired up watching the defense make plays. I was impressed.”

Atwater was particularly impressed that the defense came out on fire and didn’t let the fact that no Von Miller, no Jurrell Casey, no A.J. Bouyé meant they didn’t have their “big dogs.”

“Guess what,” he added, “the guys we have are giving everything they have and leaving it on the field, and giving our fans their money’s worth.”