Last season and during training this year, the Chiefs defense has been alternating between Derrick Johnson and Demorrio Williams. Josh Looney breaks down why we aren’t likely to see one of the two move over so they can play together.
“I would say that would be more unlikely for that scenario to happen,” Haley said.
The reason is relatively simple, but the potential pairing is one that many fans have wondered about.
Both Johnson and Williams play the same position (weak-side inside backer) and there is a big difference between that position and the position that (Corey) Mays and (Jovan) Belcher play (strong-side inside backer). On the strong-side, the Chiefs want players built for thumping.
Relative to Kansas City’s current personnel, the make-up of a “Thumper” isn’t as much mental as it is physical.
“That inside strong linebacker is taking on big bodies much of the time and has to be much more of a downhill player,” Haley explained. “(Derrick and Demorrio) are not the image that you, as a coach, have in your head as an inside strong-side backer in the 3-4. It’s no issue with them; it’s that you need a little bigger body to hold up to the pounding.”
Going strictly off of height and weight, an argument could be made for Johnson to post-up on the strong side. Johnson is the second-heaviest member of the quartet, trailing Mays by only three pounds and weighting in nearly 20 more pounds than Belcher (at least according to the official weight chart distributed by the team).
Haley went on to explain that it’s more common for strong-side players to change over to the weak-side than it is for weak-side players to transfer to the strength. As the preseason continues, we’ll likely see more mixing and matching within the Chiefs inside linebackers, but a pairing of Johnson and Williams likely won’t be one of them.
“This is one of the better battles in camp, in my opinion,” Haley said. “I just like the way that it’s going right now, because I think that both (Derrick and Demorrio) have a chance to be real good football players and that’s good for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Haley was clearly annoyed by the “Derrick Johnson/Demorrio drum starting to be beat”, which is a shame for him because it isn’t going away anytime soon. When you have a player with the raw talent that Johnson brings to the table and he isn’t on the field as much as possible, it’s not going to sit well with the fan base.
I’ve have always and continue to be one of DJ’s biggest supporters. I believe he has the ability to not only play inside or out in the 3-4, but either side. His best position is inside on the weak-side, but given the chance there’s no doubt in my mind he could hold down either spot.