Dave Merritt of Chiefs concerned about ‘bad eye leverage’ on defense
Three-time Super Bowl champion Dave Merritt was named the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive back coach in 2019, and he faces his toughest job this season amid the team’s struggle to use effective cover. against anyone. From top to bottom of their cornerback and safety roster, the players have underperformed to such an extent that the team are last last in virtually every defensive category related to stopping opposing infractions.
Merritt spoke to the media ahead of practice Thursday about his belief that his players’ eyes are literally not in the right place. He cited “bad eye leverage” as his main concern in practice this week, and seems determined to fix the issues.
âI think right now there are a lot of guys playing with low eye leverage and just reading their keys,â Merritt said of the early season shortcomings. âOne of the things I talk about all the time is roster, techniques, keys and assignments. So when you get into these games and have a particular alignment that you should be following, you need to make sure you do, and when it comes to your keys, it’s eye discipline. So these are really the issues that happened, just part of this eye discipline. “
When asked to explain what exactly ‘eye leverage’ is, he pointed to the fundamental football strategies that defenders have used for years; namely keeping their eyes on the player they are covering. It might sound basic, but for Merritt and the 2021 Chiefs’ defense, even the simplest concepts are ripe for re-teaching.
“If I’m looking at you and I’m supposed to look at you, I have to look at you,” Merritt explained. âI can’t suddenly go look at someone else. So whether you coach a pop warner, a little league, your kids, basketball, if he’s your man, you teach your kids to cover this guy. You don’t turn around and just start looking elsewhere. Oh, there’s a bird, oh there’s a butterfly. No, you cover your boyfriend. That’s what I mean.”
The fact that the defense is back at pop warner training points six weeks into the season is clearly a cause for concern. Fans couldn’t be blamed for wondering exactly what Kansas City was spending their time on during training camp, or if there was any hope their issues would be resolved anytime soon.