Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast stopped by Soren Petro’s weekly Red Zone Podcast today on KCChiefs.com.
Listen to the show via the player below or check out my notes on the interview after the jump.
Pendergast talked about everything from building a defense to his favorite restaurant in Kansas City. Check it out.
Petro’s questions and Pendergast’s comments are paraphrased.
What are your thoughts about the Kansas City fans?
I haven’t had a lot of interaction with them yet. But coaching in the NFL for 14 years — this will be my 15th season — I’ve had the opportunity to play in Arrowhead before and it’s an imposing place to come into and that’s because of the fans. I’m looking forward to hearing those fans cheer for us this fall.
Coming off a 2-14 year, how much do you have to back up and realize you’re starting over here as opposed to being year five or six like you had in Arizona?
It reminds me a lot of my first year in Arizona. We were a first year staff and taking over a team with a lot of young guys so we were able to implement the system. We’re going back to ground zero here and really focusing on our alignments, technique and then make sure guys are reading their keys and trying to get guys playing at a high level.
Are we at a point in the NFL that we won’t see your entire defensive package until next year or the season after?
I think we’re in the process of seeing what kind of players we have. We’re getting the defense sorted out in camp and then in the preseason. By the end of training camp, we’ll have a good idea of who our core guys will be that will be productive for us this year. We’re just trying to put guys in the best position where we think they can help us win.
How difficult is it so switch to the 3-4 with a team that was built with the 4-3 in mind?
We didn’t look much at what transpired in the past. We have our system and we have guys on this team that we are plugging into specific roles and that are making a transition for us. With all of the reps we took in the OTAs, mini-camps and walkthroughs we have had, we are hopeful that guys will be able to progress like we want them to.
Will certain players get left behind in the transition?
Not necessarily. We are going to use good football players. That’s what we’re looking for and if they are good football players we are going to find a way to use them.
How do you decide which ends to lighten up and move to linebacker and which ones to bulk up and slide inside?
When you look at the draft, no matter what team you are on, you look for players to fit into your system. A lot of the 4-3 college defensive ends are guys that play outside linebacker in the NFL. We have guys like Tamba Hali and Turk McBride who were defensive ends some teams might have had them on their draft boards as linebackers. They are just making the transition a year or two later than they would have if they were drafted by a team that runs the 3-4.
Everyone likes to talk about how important the nose tackle is to the 3-4, is it overblown or does the defense start there?
He has to be a special guy, someone that is disruptive and has good feet. He has to be very strong at the point of attack. Everybody is important, but the nose tackle certainly is a key spot in the 3-4.
What is your favorite restaurant in Kansas City?
Have you mentioned to Todd Haley that your defense gave up fewer points than his offense scored in the Super Bowl?
No, we haven’t talked about that too much.
It certainly doesn’t sound like the 3-4 will have any restrictions this season. Pendergast wasn’t giving the most in depth answers, so he may have just been giving a stock answer, but if you take him at his word here then we should expect to see the full defensive package this season.
I completely understand what he is trying to say about guys making the transition from end to linebacker, but here is what Scouts Inc. had to say about Hali and McBride:
“There is an outside chance that Hali could move to a rush-linebacker role in a 3-4 scheme, but it does not look as if he possesses the speed or hip fluidity to make such a permanent move.”
“McBride displays enough quickness, toughness and versatility to find a niche in the NFL as a swingman that can play end in a base 4-3 and then move inside to rush the quarterback on obvious passing downs.”
It doesn’t sound like either guy was too high on anyone’s draft board as a linebacker. But I do understand Pendergast’s point, that every year players make the same transition without incident.
And Pendergast clearly does not have the sort of political aspirations Matt Cassel has… I mean, he named names when it comes to his favorite restaurant! If you remember, Cassel was asked that very same question shortly after the trade to Kansas City and he gave a complete non-answer.