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Mailbag: Did KC Copy Denver's Plan? Pollard At WR?


From a scheme viewpoint, did you see any similarities between the way KC defended Dallas with the way Denver did, or was it different? – A KAPLAN / NEW YORK, NY

Nick: I did see a few similarities, but it all starts with pressure up front. And really, every team in the league is going to try to do that against the Cowboys and every team – get pressure on the quarterback. The most pressure you can get with the fewest number of players, the better. That's what Denver was able to do, get pressure with just four. I think the Chiefs started to alter their plan as the game went on and the Cowboys were down to just Gallup, Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown. That's when they setnt more pressure, knowing the receivers weren't going to be able to win a lot of 1-on-1 matchups. Missing Tyron Smith was one thing, but missing Tyron and Amari Cooper was a huge problem.

David: I think the Chiefs built on what Denver did, while perhaps not playing the exact same way. Even when Kansas City wasn't blitzing, they seemed to crowd the line and try to give Dak Prescott the impression. Given their success in the trenches, I'm guessing that had an effect on Dak's decision making. The key, obviously, is that when you're able to win with just four rushers, the secondary has a higher chance of success clogging the throwing lanes. The Cowboys losing both of their top two receivers undoubtedly helped with this, as it was hard for Dak to find guys downfield. But you can bet the Cowboys will continue to see similar game plans until they convince teams it doesn't work.

In general, why don't they use Tony Pollard more as a receiving threat, especially now that we're possibly down a couple receivers Thursday? I've seen his tape from Memphis lining up wide and in the slot making plays. He's so great in space. – RICK KLOTZ / LADY LAKE, FL

Nick: I don't agree with that plan. I think Pollard is good in space of course, but I wouldn't exactly call him an NFL route-runner that can hurt teams in that way. Sure, it's one thing to line him out there and do some specialty plays now and then. But the best receivers are the ones that can do everything and make the defense guess where you're going. I don't think Pollard has that capability. We saw him on a slant against Denver and he didn't even catch the pass. I think he's a great runner and gadget player but I don't seem him as a viable receiver in the traditional way.

David: The normal answer to that question is that they already have three great receivers who eat up the snaps. But with Amari Cooper and possibly CeeDee Lamb sitting out on Thursday, I think you make a great point. I'm not sure it's a great idea to send Tony Pollard downfield 20 times in this game, but he can do work for you underneath and in the screen game. If the receivers are short-handed, I think it's a solid idea.

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