The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense has been a pleasant surprise in 2014 so far. After 7 games, they have performed above expectations and helped propel the Chiefs above .500 for the first time this season after limiting the Rams to just 7 points this past Sunday.
The squad lost former starters DE Tyson Jackson and S Kendrick Lewis to free agency this offseason, cut former All-Pro CB Brandon Flowers, saw starters LB Derrick Johnson and DE Mike DeVito go down with season-ending injuries, has only had limited playing time from starting All-Pro S Eric Berry, and had numerous other injuries to various players (Mike Catapano, Phillip Gaines, Marcus Cooper, etc.), yet is somehow playing as one of the best defenses in the NFL. As the Chiefs prepare for their upcoming game against the NY Jets, I wanted to see how good Def. Coordinator Bob Sutton’s squad is:
Starting with the Chiefs’ rushing defense, which often sets the tone and prevents opposing teams from controlling the game clock, they currently rank #18 in the league, allowing just under 113 yards per game. Perhaps more importantly, they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown, the only team in the league with less than 3 allowed. This is despite playing two of the top ten rushing offenses in Miami and San Francisco, who average 138 and 125 rush yards per game, respectively. The NY Jets average 140 rush yards per game and have 8 rushing touchdowns and could pose a threat for the Chiefs this weekend.
Perhaps more surprising is the Chiefs’ passing defense. Among its starting lineup, the Chiefs secondary has rotated a rookie (Phillip Gaines), a player who has been cut by 3 NFL teams (Ron Parker), a former scout team player (Jamell Fleming) and a 7th round draft pick that was claimed off waivers (Marcus Cooper) that have all contributed and played well at times. Despite a lack of turnovers created (only 4 interceptions so far this season), the players have done their jobs when needed and are currently leading the league by allowing the fewest pass yards (195) per game, even after having faced Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady. What an accomplishment! A lot of this might be due to increased pressure by the defensive line, starting with Justin Houston:
Justin Houston currently leads all NFL players with 10 sacks. He is on pace to shatter Derrick Thomas’ team record of 20. Houston also has generated 9 QB hurries, with ranks #5 in the NFL. As a team, the Chiefs have 24 sacks, behind only 3 teams in the NFL, and they have 9 players who have registered at least 0.5 a sack in 2014. Tamba Hali has 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles and Dontari Poe continues to wreak havoc up the middle with 2 sacks himself.
The stingy rushing defense, combined with the league’s best pass attack has led to the Chiefs allowing the third fewest points per game in the NFL (18.3) and the overall fewest touchdowns (12). Not to discount the offense, but Bob Sutton has truly created a fantastic defense, which may be a huge reason for the Chiefs current winning record. Hopefully, the injured players (especially Eric Berry) will be back to 100% health soon, which should provide even more help to an already excellent defense. They will have their hands full against the Jets and Michael Vick this weekend, but look for them to contain Vick when needed.