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.