Don’t Look Now But The Chiefs Defense Is Dangerous

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Tre takes a few minutes to pat himself on the back and to let you know the Chiefs defense is looking good…just like he said it would.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Chiefs are fourth in the NFL in pass defense DVOA, and they are 11th in overall defensive DVOA. If you asked me if the Chiefs defense would have made this kind of progress I probably wouldn’t have agreed with you, but they’re inevitable progression was palpable from the start of the season.

It’s not like someone could have told you this was coming. Oh wait, a few people have.

The fact of the matter remains, coaching will always be important in the NFL, not only from a technical standpoint, but to just simply be put in a position to succeed does more for a defense than you can imagine.

Here’s a perfect example of being put in a position to succeed. The Chiefs made an adjustment in the way they defended running backs split out wide.

They got abused against the Packers in these kinds of formations and Steve Spagnuolo wasn’t going to let that happen again. The Vikings are in 12 personnel here, and they’ll shift the running back and TE out wide to see if they can get the Chiefs in a mismatch.

Chiefs keep their coverage scheme, but adjust the way they line up. They use their corners to defend the receivers out wide. That gives the Chiefs a matchup of Charvarius Ward against a running back which is exactly what you want to see.

The Chiefs get beat for a touchdown on this play, and it’s a good design and a good route here by the Vikings. Chiefs are in zone coverage as is expected the closer you get to the goal line, and the receiver has to sell the crossing route.

He does exactly that and get Juan Thornhill to look backside to see if another route is going to cross his zone. By the time he gets his head back around the receiver had already gotten upfield and then it’s too late.

This isn’t a bad snap, but just good execution by the Vikings.

Another example of being put in a position to succeed. The Chiefs line themselves favorable in a two man coverage.

Dan Sorensen covers the running back and Ben Niemann covers the tight end, and I can almost assure you that it would have been the other way around last season, and it would have made me pull my hair out, because you’re not doing yourself any favors having your linebacker covering a running back, especially in two man coverage.

On the other side Rashad Fenton has perfect technique with inside leverage, and he knows he as safety help especially since he’s covering the number two receiver so the safety doesn’t have a long way to go to help.

The Vikings run a route combination that’s designed to get to the sticks and get a first down, but the Chiefs have it snuffed out and Chris Jones does the rest.

We’ll finish up with one of Ward’s many great snaps. Here he plays this corner route perfectly. It has always amazed me how NFL teams can’t effectively use the corner route in goal to go situations.

It will almost never work if you don’t put defenders in a bind, and the Vikings don’t do that here.

Ward gets his hands on the receiver and forces him inside knowing he has safety help on the inside. He maintains his outside leverage even as the receiver breaks to the corner pylon forcing the incompletion.

The Chiefs are fourth in pass defense DVOA without a top flight corner for a reason. That reason is because they’ve been put in positions to succeed, and they play together and know what everyone else is doing on any given play.

Screenshot this, save it, do whatever you want with this next statement.

The Chiefs, when healthy, and with the continuous improvement on the defensive end can run circles around the rest of the league and it’s not even particularly close.

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It’s awesome that we traded off/released 2 top pass rushers, brought one in who has been playing with injury or sitting out, and our defensive line looks BETTER. They have insane depth and don’t have square pegs in round holes (aside from when a linebacker has to cover a RB).

I think our good safety play this season has drastically helped the cornerbacks as well. They are playing with confidence because they know that the guys on the back end have their back, unlike last season where they were probably our weakest link.

Overall, there are issues with the unit still (we really need a star talent in the linebacking room, should be a no-brainer priority first rounder.), but the entire unit is not a liability and is slowly morphing into a strength.


I am of the opinion that at this point any defensive statistics prior to the DEN game should be taken with a grain of salt the size of a football, due to the scheme not being fully functional during the installation. I think the scheme has a way to go before it’s 100% installed, but with a turning point as sharp as they had in Denver, the scheme “clicking” is the only thing I can think of that would cause such a dramatic improvement from week to week.

It certainly wasn’t because a rookie had a dramatic breakout or because they added fresh, top-tier talent, because neither of those things happened. No one person was the game-changer, it was all of them playing better. A team almost always wins over a group of individuals, which is why we have the word “teamwork” in the laqnguage.


This didn’t age well


OK, so, I might actually not hate this defense now.
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sure you like it … so long as the Chiefs win


As long as they don’t wake up feeling that way…

Don’t Look Now But The Chiefs Defense Is Dangerous

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Does Kendall Fuller start over Fenton when he comes back?


Glad to see some folks outside Chiefs Kingdom finally begin to acknowledge what we’ve known for a couple of weeks. This from Jay Glazer’s Q&A over at the Athletic;

Have the Chiefs secretly got a good defense now? – Adam P.

I don’t think it’s a secret anymore. The cat’s come out of the bag. They’ve really stepped up. When you have injuries to your best players you’ve got to figure out who steps up. They had an entire unit step up. Steve Spagnuolo, the defensive coordinator, has really stepped up.


Good to see some analysis to confirm what my untrained eyes are telling me. Also, we were correct that Spags is a huge upgrade over Sutton.


A 10-year-old would have been an upgrade over Sutton. The bar was pretty low.


I do think I could have done better than Sutton, and my coaching experience consists of a T-ball stint followed by numerous seasons of Madden on the Xbox.