Sorely in need of another playmaker on defense, the Chiefs got their man in Pro
Bowl cornerback Ty Law, a 12-year veteran who was given a five-year, $30
million free-agent deal. That pickup, plus Larry Johnson's emergence as an
elite running back in 2005 and the arrival of new coach Herm Edwards, puts K.C.
a few steps closer to Super Bowl contention.
Yes, he's 32 and was battling an injury, but Law can still dominate receivers
and have a huge impact on games. He teams with big-play cornerback Patrick
Surtain to give Kansas City its best corner duo since Dale Carter and James
Hasty in the mid- to late 1990s. Law also gives defensive coordinator Gunther
Cunningham more confidence to run his exotic blitz packages. As defensive
tackle Lional Dalton says, "We should get a lot more coverage sacks with Ty
certainly need something to punch up their pass defense. Last year they tied
for 26th in sacks (29) and were 30th in passing yards allowed (229.9 per game).
The significance of the second stat is questionable because K.C. found itself
defending several big leads, yet the players acknowledge that big plays killed
them. "We'd play consistently for stretches and then give up a 60-yard run
or a long pass that changed the game," says Dalton.
Law, with 46 career interceptions, should help. He's an instinctive, physical
corner who positions himself well in zone and man coverage. Law downplays his
role-"I didn't come here to be a savior," he says-but opponents won't
be so quick to attack his side of the field.
will also have a positive effect in practices and the locker room. For one, he
commands the respect that goes with winning three Super Bowl rings with the
Patriots. "He knows what it takes for a team to get to that next
level," says Surtain. That was evident after one training-camp practice,
when Edwards, who played 10 seasons at cornerback in the NFL, pulled Law aside
to show him how to funnel outside receivers into the middle in Edwards's Cover
2 scheme. "The younger players could see how he asked great questions about
his role in this defense, that he's really a coachable guy," Edwards says.
"He hasn't come in here acting like he has all the answers."
Law admits his
ego took a hit before last season, when Kansas City passed on him and signed
Surtain (seven years, $50.8 million). At the time, however, the Chiefs were
concerned about Law's recovery from a broken left foot suffered in October
2004, an injury that, in fact, nagged him last fall when he played for the
Jets. There were weeks when he had to miss one or two days of practice so he
could play on Sundays, and Law estimates that his foot was probably 75%
Law still had 10 interceptions, tied for the NFL lead, and earned his fifth
trip to the Pro Bowl. This off-season he was able to work out regularly with
noted track coach Bob Kersee and trim his weight from 217 pounds to 204. With a
lighter frame, a healed left foot and the confidence gained from enduring what
he calls his "toughest professional season," Law is eager to give K.C.
the boost it needs. "I was never 100 percent last year, and I still made
the Pro Bowl," he says. "If I can do that with one wheel, there's no
telling what I can do now."