AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders

     

Broncos

Broncos S Justin Simmons is hitting the market at the perfect time following last year’s big jump in safety contracts following a weird year before that. He’s set to be an unrestricted free agent after establishing himself as one of the best young safeties in the NFL in 2019. Broncos GM John Elway has said retaining Simmons is a priority, even on the franchise tag. For his part, Simmons said he would be willing to play out the 2020 season on the tag if necessary. 

“For me, honestly I know what I bring to the table as a player,” Simmons said via the Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. “I know what Vic (Fangio)’s defense is capable of, especially if I’m able to be at the helm and kind of run it at the safety position. I know I feel like there are so many things that we can accomplish, and not even really having a healthy core and once we have an offseason where everyone gets healthy again really being able to run the table.

“So if I could just be a part of that for one more season, I’m all on board for that. Because all you need is one season. Like you said, the 49ers weren’t even in it last year. I think we found our quarterback. I know we have a great defensive unit. If we could just find a way to do it one more year I think it’d be something special.”

Chargers

  • Looking at trends from Chargers OC Shane Steichen‘s midseason takeover, the Athletic’s Daniel Popper expects Los Angeles to be more balanced toward the run in 2020, as Steichen was more willing to call run plays on first down and in the red zone compared to his predecessor Ken Whisenhunt
  • Steichen also called more runs out of three-receiver personnel, used the shotgun less and called more runs from under center and increased how often Los Angeles went no huddle after he took over in 2019. 

Chiefs

After coming a game short of the Super Bowl last year, the Chiefs made renovating their defense their top priority in their quest to get back this season. The first of many moves was firing longtime DC Bob Sutton, who had been in the role since 2013, and replacing him with Steve Spagnuolo. While it paid off and Kansas City is playing in the Super Bowl this week due in large part to its progress on defense, Chiefs HC Andy Reid said Sutton deserves some credit. 

“In Bob Sutton’s own way he has a piece of this too. Those coaches did a good job of building a foundation for us,” Reid said via Pro Football Talk.

Reid also continued to praise OC Eric Bieniemy, whose snub yet again for a head coaching position this offseason has sparked more discussion about the NFL’s minority hiring. Both of Reid’s former offensive coordinators — Eagles HC Doug Pederson and Bears HC Matt Nagy, who got his shot after just a year as the primary OC — have head coaching jobs right now, and Reid says Bieniemy’s role is no different despite coming from outside the NFL’s usual pipeline after starting as a RB coach. 

“His role is the same,” Reid said via NFL Media’s Kevin Patra. “He does all the stuff the other coordinators do — the game plans and so on. He’s the one (who) signals and calls the plays and in communication with the quarterbacks. He’s in every quarterback meeting, all the stuff all the other guys do. I don’t know the answer. Every owner has the option of hiring the best fit for the organization and I’m very partial to Eric because I know how good he is. I’m with him every day and I appreciate him more every day. I’ve had him as a player and now as a coach so I’ve watched him grow in the profession and he’s somebody that an owner would never have to worry about. You could just turn it over to him and let him go. Just let him be Eric Bieniemy and he’ll lead your football team into greatness.”

For his part, Bieniemy said he’s not unhappy to be in Kansas City for at least another year, particularly given he’s coaching in the Super Bowl.

“Everybody wants to hear that I’m disappointed. That is not the case,” he said. “We’re still playing. We’ve got one of the biggest games this weekend. So, I’m really looking forward to having that opportunity to share in this moment in time with our organization, with our players and also too with our coaching staff.”

Bieniemy also declined to comment on any potential rule changes that the league might push for in the coming years, as hinted by commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday.

“It’s not for me to comment because I can only speak to my process,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to have an opportunity to interview. Now, whether they hire me or not, that’s up to them. I work my tail off to be placed in that situation. I’m going to continue chopping wood. I’m going to continue being me. And whatever is going to happen down the line is going to happen. I’ll let the process take care of itself.”

Raiders

  • According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, the two teams most discussed as potential destinations for Patriots QB Tom Brady if he leaves New England in free agency are the Dolphins and Raiders. 
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