Following its solid performance on Monday Night Football, the Chiefs defense not only looks different to those of us in Kansas City, but to opponents of the Chiefs as well. Included in the mix of those impressed with Kansas City’s 2010 debut is Browns RB Jerome Harrison; the same Jerome Harrison that carved up Arrowhead for 286 yards on the ground roughly nine months ago.
“They’re not the same team that they were last year,” Harrison said via conference call. “I’ve watched film and they’re not the same team. They have one of the guys I have some of the most respect for in the NFL, Romeo Crennel.”
While the Chiefs made relatively few additions to the defensive front seven this offseason, they did bring in Crennel. An expert in defensive line play, one of Crennel’s main duties has been transform Kansas City’s young, developing defenders into consistent high-level performers. It’s a critical component of the Chiefs becoming a better team and there isn’t a better example of that importance than the Chiefs defensive front.
“Kansas City is in a unique situation, they’ve got two high draft picks at defensive end and I think they’ve both improved in the system,” Browns head coach Eric Mangini said. “Just watching their technique and the way they come off blockers, I think they’ve made tremendous strides and they’re going to keep getting better.
“The other guy who’s playing really well I think is LB
Harrison’s coming out party at Arrowhead last December helped put him on the national radar. He had posted a total of just 749 rushing yards over nearly four seasons of NFL play prior to his arrival in Kansas City.
At Arrowhead Harrison found a defensive front that lacked both depth and experience and he took advantage. His career day would begin a three-game run that churned out 567 rushing yards to end the season, earning him a spot as Cleveland’s number one running back for 2010.
But one player who Harrison didn’t face on that December day was one of the Chiefs brightest performers on Monday Night Football.
“Yeah, when you watch film (Dorsey) definitely sticks out,” Harrison said. “Like I said, it’s not the same team that we played last year. Johnson from Texas; he’s playing like he was back in his college days. It’s not the same defense. It’s not like I’m over here licking my chops like, oh (I remember) last year. No, this is going to be a tough one. I know Romeo; he’s a great defensive coordinator. He’s going to have something for us.”
The Chiefs, much like the Browns, are a game-plan team, meaning that both squads will have something new in for this Sunday’s meeting. Ironically, Crennel and Chiefs assistant head coach Maurice Carthon are partially responsible for the headache in game-planning against Harrison. The pair was guiding Cleveland’s coaching staff when the Browns drafted Harrison in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Harrison made sure to credit both coaches during his conference call for giving him a chance to succeed at the NFL level.
Harrison is longer flying under the radar, but neither is the Chiefs defensive performance on MNF. Regardless of all the new factors for this year’s Chiefs/Browns meeting - the new coaching direction, impressive 2010 debut and return of Dorsey to the lineup – Kansas City remembers what Harrison was able to do against them on their home turf.
That Cleveland tape from 2009 is not only being shown this week as a reminder of what happened, but as a studying tool as well.
“That is an excellent game to be in the scouting report for us as a team,” Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said. “The coaching staffs haven’t changed enough to affect that and you just don’t have a lot to watch. You are going to see a lot of different things in the preseason from them but these early games are always a test because you just don’t know. Are you going to see the things you saw in preseason? Are you going to see the things you saw at the end of last year? You just don’t know.
“The Chiefs/Browns game (from 2009) is one that will be seen by everyone in this building multiple times,” Haley continued. “I would say especially that it sticks with me. I know that.”
After hearing both squads speak, you get the feeling that there’s a sense of a mutual respect between the two opponents. Both teams have something to prove against one another, and it begins and ends with the run game for each club.
“Like I said Romeo’s got those guys playing hard-nosed ball and everybody’s flying around,” Harrison said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for