The Defense No Longer Has An Excuse

 63 replies

The Chiefs went into the 2022 with an army of picks that would determine the course of the team for the next half decade. Of the 12 picks they started with, 10 were either directly used on a defensive player or were part of a trade for a defensive player.

1st (29 overall): Trent McDuffie

1st (30 overall): George Kalaftis

2nd (62 overall): Bryan Cook

3rd (94 overall): Trent McDuffie

3rd (103 overall): Leo Chenal

4th (121 overall): Trent McDuffie

4th (135 overall): Joshua Williams

7th (243 overall): Jaylen Watson

7th (259 overall): Nazeeh Johnson

That’s roughly two entire drafts worth of picks invested on one side of the ball. This draft sent the very clear message that defense was the priority. And now it can no longer be a sideshow to the offense.

During the Mahomes era, it has always been offense first. Not only did the team have the best quarterback in the NFL, they had the best receiver, the best tight end, and the best offensive coach, all of whom will be easy Hall of Famers. With that level of talent, all the defense needed to do was occasionally get in the way of the other team, and Kansas City would be hosting AFC championships every year.

But while Mahomes and Reid will be around for a bit longer, Hill is gone and Kelce is getting older. Hopefully Skyy Moore can develop into a good #1 receiver to lessen the blow of losing Hill, and our offensive line can jell into a dominant force, but the harsh reality is that we will probably need to get used to an offense that is merely really good instead of inhumanly dominant.

That means the defense needs to step up. Since Mahomes took over in 2018, the defense has never ranked better than 16th in yards allowed and 17th in expected points. From now on, top 10 rankings should be the expectation.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the defense will look like.

Defensive Line

Frank Clark – Chris Jones – Tershawn Wharton – George Kalaftis

This is by far the weakest part of the defense, so hopefully the front office will continue to add in free agency. But even as it stands, it’s not all that bad. Jones is obviously the star, and Kalaftis has serious potential.

Clark and Wharton aren’t great, but Clark in particular could rebound. In his last 3 seasons with Seattle he averaged over 10 sacks per season, and even in his first year in Kansas City he had 8, a number we would be thrilled with in 2022. It might be a pipe dream at this point, but if Clark can go back to even just 2018 form and Kalaftis reaches his potential, this could actually be an above average group.

Linebacker

Willie Gay – Nick Bolton – Leo Chenal

For years since Derrick Johnson retired, the Chiefs have struggled at the linebacker position. But this group looks like it could be the best in the NFL. Both Willie Gay and Nick Bolton have proven to be borderline Pro Bowlers, while Leo Chenal is a phenomenal talent that could be better than both of them.

What’s truly exciting about this group is that they all have different skillsets, allowing each other to play the roles in which they are best suited.

Corner

L’Jarius Sneed – Trent McDuffie – Rashad Fenton/Joshua Williams

The strength of this group will obviously depend on how good McDuffie and Williams are at the next level. Both have the potential to be stars, although McDuffie is obviously more of a sure thing. If McDuffie reaches his potential and the NFL isn’t too big for Williams, this could be a seriously good group.

Safety

Juan Thornhill – Justin Reid – Bryan Cook

The safety group was already pretty set with the signing of Reid to replace Mathieu, but we did bring in Cook to replace Sorensen. We’ll obviously have to wait and see how good Cook is, but it’s hard to imagine he could be any worse than Sorensen was last season.

Overall, this group is solid, if not spectacular.

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Berserker
Berserker
05/03/2022 5:38 pm

I think the safeties are going to be the best group on defense. I’m looking forward to seeing how Reid does here.

Bolton will be defensive MVP.

Fenton’s shoulder injury rehab might explain why Veach wanted to bring in so many new DBs. It’s not serious enough to pay full-price for a Fenton replacement, but worrisome enough to try to hedge that bet.

Karlaftis sacks o/u: 7.5?

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  Berserker
05/03/2022 5:40 pm

under

Budahmon
Budahmon
Reply to  Berserker
05/03/2022 7:43 pm

Over

zulu trader
zulu trader
05/03/2022 4:47 pm

Mike Hughes is GONE!

That’s exciting!

tadream0
tadream0
05/03/2022 4:07 pm

Seemed like he opposing quarterback was able to get rid of the ball awfully quick against our defense. As a result, we got a little bit of pressure, but very few sacks. Building up the LBs and defensive secondary should force the quarterback to have to hold the ball, even a half second longer and then the defense gets the sack. I am hoping it is that simple. Not letting a receiver get free right from the get go should put more pressure on the QB, allowing the D-Line to do its job. Veach wanted to improve the D-Line, he just did it in a way that most of us weren’t ready for. It appears that maybe the NFL wasn’t ready for that, either. Again, much hope here. As far as the Tyreek trade, I am going to miss the guy. He was excitement incarnate. However, it was easy for the offense to get into the “F— it, Tyreek down there somewhere” style of offense. As a result, teams kept players deep and kept brackets on Hill and just hammered Kelce early in the route to throw Mahomes off the play. Yeah, losing Tyreek hurts, but the truth is, no matter how much I liked our secondary receivers (and yeah, I did like them), they didn’t scare anyone because they lacked consistency we needed to help relieve the pressure. With the receivers we have now, we have guys that can make the catchs at all levels of the field. That will help eliminate the 2 deep look that we constantly saw last year and will stop the crowding at the line of scrimmage. Our receivers can all run varied level routes, forcing the opposing defense to account for all the receivers, and playing them straight up man to man, we will have someone that can break open and run. We may not ever see the 70-80 yard touchdown again, but we may see a lot more 15-20 yard gains on a consistent basis. At that point, our offense becomes death by a thousand paper cuts. And when they commit so… Read more »

steve_chiefs
steve_chiefs
Reply to  tadream0
05/03/2022 4:55 pm

excellent!!!!

upamtn
Reply to  tadream0
05/03/2022 6:05 pm

that’s what I’m talkin’ about … stop the “run around til Hill gets open” shit and spread it around AND run the flippin’ ball in between

and love love love what the D should be able to do now, well said and spot on

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3rdnlong
Reply to  upamtn
05/03/2022 6:39 pm

To be fair, I think we did try to spread the ball around a lot before. We just had guys like DRob, Kemp looking great in preseason and sucking in actual games, Mecole would be up and down, and then Pringle actually had some solid catches. We threw it to every RB we had – even our FB. And every TE and backup TE. And Josh Gordon when he was acting like Kemp. So I don’t think the problem was that we weren’t trying to spread it.

The problem was who was catching. And Pat’s current frustration level with them.

zulu trader
zulu trader
05/03/2022 3:59 pm

Nieman and Sorenson GONE!

Thats exciting!

probablyamistake
probablyamistake
Reply to  zulu trader
05/03/2022 4:15 pm

Yeah but you’re still here. 😉

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  probablyamistake
05/03/2022 4:29 pm

and continually harassed by you )

upamtn
Reply to  zulu trader
05/03/2022 6:07 pm

no worries, I’ll harass you back for pam

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Severely Concussed
Severely Concussed
05/03/2022 2:59 pm

I hate judging how good a defense is based on rankings. Let’s think back to last year. How many times did the other team go for it on 4th down or go for 2 when it seemed like the wrong call. Offenses play our defense differently than the other 31 NFL teams. If we had the Matt Cassel offensive production, other teams would just be content to score 17 pts knowing it would be enough to win.

I will judge how much our defense improved by using my eyeballs. Less missed tackles and blown coverages will be a great start. Our rankings might not change, but my confidence in getting key stops is exponentially higher than last season.

If we score 30ppg (would have been 3rd last year) and have a D that allows 24 ppg (would have been 20th last year), I will be over the moon.

rip58
Reply to  Severely Concussed
05/03/2022 5:12 pm

Nice , didn’t factory that in but you are correct …

upamtn
Reply to  Severely Concussed
05/03/2022 6:08 pm

comment image

Slayer0810
Slayer0810
05/03/2022 2:16 pm

it’s hard to imagine he could be any worse than Sorensen was last season

You can say that again. Having lived through some bad Chiefs years, I still can’t remember one player with similar utilization in the defense being any worse than Sorenson was this past year. So glad he’s gone to give up TDs for someone else.

steve_chiefs
steve_chiefs
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 4:58 pm

haha Honey Badger and Dirty Dan reunited in the Saints locker room!

larch
05/03/2022 1:54 pm

How much does the needle move towards improved D if you factor in FA signings DT Taylor Stallworth (ex Colt) and LB Jermaine Carter (ex Panther)?

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  larch
05/03/2022 1:56 pm

Neither one will play much

Budahmon
Budahmon
Reply to  zulu trader
05/03/2022 2:19 pm

Stallworth will play…..Reed had 700 plus snaps last year which was more than even Chris Jones. Stallworth was used in passing downs by the Colts, his pass rush win rate is north of 18%.

Berserker
Berserker
Reply to  Budahmon
05/03/2022 5:46 pm

So he’s going to be who we thought Jarran Reed was?

gonzangkc11
gonzangkc11
05/03/2022 1:49 pm

I fixed the TITLE 🙂
The Defense STILL HAS An Excuse
.
Chief defensive LINE SUX BALLS @ getting QB sacks & QB pressures. My 2 cents….Chiefs have made ZERO improvement since bull jive loss in AFC championship game. EVEN, if Melvin Ingram re-signs that will give Chiefs a tiny bump.

Football 101, games are WON with offensive & defensive line. Refer to # of QB sacks & # of QB pressure……….. Chiefs had last time they won SB.

And for the peeps that THINK spags going to start blitzing more. Research year by year — what % spag blitz in his career as a D coach??

I know the % by year……..but it’s better for peeps to DYOR (do your own research).

SOLUTION:
re-sign a few impact free agent DE & DT — also hope Melvin Ingram re-signs

Last edited 1 month ago by gonzangkc11
zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 1:55 pm

DL help yet to come

DenverDonkeyHater
DenverDonkeyHater
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 2:42 pm

If the LB corp really is dramatically better then this defense will be dramatically better. I feel like a lot of people undervalue lb play. Hitchens and especially Niemann were so easy to account for. You could just see on every play what the other coordinator was trying to do and Hitchens and Niemann were soooo easy to account for. “Chip this guy and then block the LB.” Niemann is just standing there waiting to get blocked.

Budahmon
Budahmon
Reply to  gonzangkc11
05/03/2022 2:24 pm

I disagree….the Chiefs were 7th in Pass Rush Win Rate yet did not register sacks because the short to intermediate pass defense sucked hind tit. Clark was a problem with a PRWR of only 9.8%, but they had good production across the DL except for Clark’s edge position.

Budahmon
Budahmon
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 7:33 pm

ESPN analytics…

NovaChiefs
Reply to  Budahmon
05/03/2022 2:53 pm

This is what I’m hoping the brass think the problem is (and that they’re correct). It’s not that the DL couldn’t get to the QB, it’s that the D backfield didn’t make the QB hold the ball. Fix the 2nd part, the 1st almost certainly improves

KCChef
KCChef
Reply to  NovaChiefs
05/03/2022 3:03 pm

We got to the QB in 2.5 Seconds 44% of the Time … It seemed like 99% of the Time the Defensive Backfield was Beaten in Under 2 … : (

Budahmon
Budahmon
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 7:35 pm

Chiefs PRWR was 7th in the NFL

NovaChiefs
Reply to  KCChef
05/03/2022 3:11 pm

See? I’m no coach, but that seems like it might be part of the problem. We all wanted DL help. This might be why we are on a forum and not at 1 Arrowhead Drive.

hoosierchief
Reply to  NovaChiefs
05/03/2022 3:18 pm

Actually, from some of the above stats, getting LB and DB help is helping the Dline.

Berserker
Berserker
Reply to  NovaChiefs
05/03/2022 5:49 pm

Actually I assumed Veach was going to address the Dline more because that’s something he publicly said that he would do.

upamtn
Reply to  Berserker
05/03/2022 6:14 pm

he did address it … with both 1st Round picks: CB then Karlaftis, then more DBs and more DBs and more DBs (plus one RB and one OL and one LB) then some UDFA DBs … hold up those WRs for half a second and the DL takes care of itself

KCChef
KCChef
Reply to  Budahmon
05/03/2022 3:01 pm

^^^ I came here to say this Exactly !!! ^^^

NovaChiefs
Reply to  KCChef
05/03/2022 3:11 pm

You did not. You came for the cookies, like the rest of us.

upamtn
Reply to  NovaChiefs
05/03/2022 6:15 pm

we ALL come for the cookies, dude

probablyamistake
probablyamistake
Reply to  Budahmon
05/03/2022 3:54 pm

Hmm, might be onto something there. Time will tell.

gonzangkc11
gonzangkc11
Reply to  Budahmon
05/03/2022 5:49 pm

And Chiefs re-sign Clark for $17m — that 55 jersey STiNKs — Dee Ford & Frank Clark.

BUT…
maybe just maybe — Clark will BALL to get a another big $$ contract from another NFL team

Berserker
Berserker
Reply to  gonzangkc11
05/03/2022 5:51 pm

Petro seems pretty convinced that Veach plans to sign some Dline help if/when he can get Orlando Brown to sign a new contract and get rid of that big cap hit from his franchise tag.

zulu trader
zulu trader
Reply to  Berserker
05/03/2022 5:52 pm

I agree with Petro

Berserker
Berserker
Reply to  zulu trader
05/03/2022 5:54 pm

He went on a rant today. He’s pissed that Brown apparently hasn’t hired an agent, and is convinced that his tag/contract is holding up the show re: Dline additions.

hoosierchief
05/03/2022 1:24 pm

What strikes me as ironic is all the talking heads saying how much the Chiefs lost with Hill, but when he was playing they were the same ones saying he wasn’t that great….

DenverDonkeyHater
DenverDonkeyHater
05/03/2022 12:29 pm

“The harsh reality is that we will probably need to get used to an offense that is merely really good instead of inhumanly dominant.”

Umm no, but I hope other teams think like you. Quite frankly we werent close to inhumanly dominant for most of last year. Bold prediction. The offense will be better this year than it was last year. Hill is spectacular but not as big of a difference maker as all the national talking heads are crying about. So while yes we take a step down in our wr1 our wr2 through wr4 will be better. Also expect Noah Gray to take a step forward in his 2nd year like most TEs do.

To me though the biggest addition (and addition by subtraction) will be CEH taking a back seat to Jones and Gore and whoever has a will to play RB. Our offense was different when McKinnon took over the starting role in the playoffs. Even MEH started playing better which speaks volumes about what type of a player he is. With this oline playing together for another year and a good rb the offense is going to start to click again. Don’t sleep on Mahomes and Reid.

DenverDonkeyHater
DenverDonkeyHater
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 1:08 pm

There’s no way you can look at that offense last year and say it was inhumanly dominant. Doesn’t pass the eye test.

hoosierchief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 3:18 pm

An improved defense should get you better starting field position.

MasterChief
MasterChief
Reply to  DenverDonkeyHater
05/03/2022 1:25 pm

I agree to some extent.

I do think the offense will have a MUCH more effective running game, and this will loosen up the passing game a lot from the “cover everything deep” defenses that we saw last season. Jones, CEH, Gore.

However, the amount of changes to the “receiving corps” will likely cause the offense to take some time to get in rhythm. I do think Juju and MVS are going to be really good once they get comfortable with the offense. I also think Hardman will make many big, exciting plays this year.

While Mahomes will have to adjust to this new offense, he’s still Mahomes. He gets mediocre receivers big contracts.

upamtn
05/03/2022 10:54 am

good thoughts, great write-up and breakdown and completely agree … expectations for the Defense are gonna be very high (for most fans) … and on Offense, I think the team is gonna be just fine

SCKSChief
SCKSChief
05/03/2022 10:34 am

Was this written before the Lonnie Johnson trade, or do you not see him factoring in?

SCKSChief
SCKSChief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 10:40 am

Ok. Just wanted to clarify that point. I’m not sure what I see in that regard. If he can’t maul someone, he isn’t that great of a cover guy…evidenced by his disrobing of Kelce in every matchup. Wouldn’t be surprised if he held a temporary spot while the rooks got their feet wet though.

Nasrani
Nasrani
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 11:04 am

I was going to ask about this. Last night’s OT made it sound like something was in the works, and final details were being ironed out. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

hoosierchief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 11:33 am

I think he’s getting the veterans extra month vacation before signing.

upamtn
Reply to  hoosierchief
05/03/2022 11:57 am

if Ingram signs with a new team before July 22 or the first day of training camp (whichever is later), he would count towards the compensatory formula

IOW if someone else signs him, Chiefs get a comp pick (or something)

OTOH, if no other team signs him, then KC will have exclusive negotiating rights

(basically Veach saying “we want you back but DO enjoy your extended vacation, see you in late August”)

MasterChief
MasterChief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
05/03/2022 1:35 pm

I think they’d be good in a rotation.

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