Go ahead, double team Tamba Hali. Double him all day long.
Justin Houston dares you.
The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be developing one of the most dynamic pass rushing duos in the NFL and Tamba Hali doesn’t even have a sack yet.
The Chiefs got out of the gate slow but their defense appeared to be coming together Sunday in a 27-24 OT victory over the New Orleans Saints. Hali, long the team’s only consistent pass rushing option, was suspended for the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. His absence showed as Falcons QB Matt Ryan torched the KC D. Then again, Ryan is doing a lot of torching these days.
This week, however, Hali and Houston really seemed to be hitting their stride. The Saints seemed well aware of how dangerous Hali can be and they double teamed him on multiple occasions. Houston, who is emerging as one of the league’s best young players, saw many a favorable matchup and he took advantage, finishing the day with three sacks (one for a crucial safety) and two pass defenses.
In fact, since a breakout game against the Denver Broncos in 2011, Houston has 46 tackles, five pass defenses and 9.5 sacks in an 11-game span.
KC fans may be concerned about Hali’s lack of sacks thus far but they shouldn’t be. KC’s defense struggled mightily in Hali’s first game of the season vs. the Buffalo Bills and the Saints paid so much attention to him Sunday that Houston was able to make a strong case for AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Hali is going to get his. He has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL over the last five years or so and he’s done it with little to no help on the other side. With Houston quickly becoming a force, the Chiefs now have a two-headed monster coming after a QB near you.
And if the KC secondary can stick to their men long enough, more sacks could be coming in bunches.
For both players.