KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dee Ford won his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award on Wednesday, but the fifth-year Chiefs linebacker says he has his eyes on a bigger prize.
“It's great for me, but my blinders are on right now,” Ford said. “This team is on a bigger mission. There's not a lot of time to celebrate. We have a bigger mission of what we are trying to do.”
Ford gathered three quarterback sacks and forced two fumbles against the Denver Broncos in Week 8 in capturing the weekly honor. He's the second Chiefs player earning weekly AFC honors this season, joining quarterback Patrick Mahomes who won the offensive award in each of the first two weeks of the season.
The Chiefs reshuffled their coaching staff this year, breaking the linebacker coaching position into two jobs, with coach Mike Smith handling the outside linebackers. Ford credits Smith with helping him to his big start this year with eight sacks through the first half of the season.
“Every day we do the same thing and we are getting better at smaller things,” Ford said. “It's crazy, we’ve played for so many years, and Justin (Houston) and I talk all the time with our steps being awful at times. We are just so athletic and strong we can just get away with it. But now, having that coach, Mike is phenomenal.”
He says an emphasis on the mental approach of his game and improved fundamentals have helped fuel his success.
“It's not necessarily the move, it's the mindset,” Ford said. “It's maturity, and again, being more efficient with what you do. Those are the small things we work on. Steps, hand placement, small, finer details. That's where your game can really improve.”
Ford seemed to predict his quick start during training camp, when he said he felt healthy and poised for a big season.
“I didn't know, I was just guessing,” Ford laughed.