Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What’s Next For the Chiefs’ Defense?


Continuing my look at where the Kansas City Chiefs are headed this season, I would like to turn my attention to the defense. Despite the several blowout games the Chiefs suffered last season, the defense unit is actually much better off than the offense. Of the six Chiefs pro-bowlers last year, four were from the defense (Eric Berry – S, Derrick Johnson – MLB, Tamba Hali – OLB and alternate Justin Houston – OLB). However, the defense could have some serious issues if not addressed either through free agency or the draft.

In working this column, I took the same approach with the defense as I did with the offense in my column “What’s Next for the Chiefs’ Offense?”  I researched the Chiefs’ roster through several sources, player contracts and amount due to players to determine where the team is at and potentially where they’re headed. I’ll break down the defense section by section and we’ll figure out where the holes are.

We’re all still letting the dust settle from the Alex Smith trade, but the impact of that decision will be felt across the NFL on both offense and defense. I say this because of the way teams will draft based on the fact that the Chiefs won’t be taking a QB in the first or second round of the draft this year. We all know that this year’s draft class is deep with cornerbacks, defensive linemen and offensive linemen. It’s not your typical draft class to say the least.

The first main area of concern is the defensive line. This position group has been a hot topic since Scotty Pioli first took over from His Highness Carl Peterson in 2009. His first round draft pick in two of four drafts were defensive linemen (Tyson Jackson – DE and Dontari Poe – DT), and thus far, neither one of them has delivered the way a first rounder should. Let’s not leave Glenn Dorsey out of the mix. He was the last first rounder picked by Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson. The good news is, Dorsey played his last down as a Chief last season before being placed on IR. His contract has expired and there is no indication that the Chiefs’ new front office has any interest in resigning him. The bad news is, there is not a clear cut replacement for Dorsey. I really like Ropati Pitoitua (mainly because I like saying his name, but also because I like big Samoan dudes on the line.) I thought Ropati performed pretty well last year when he was forced to step in for an injured Dorsey. He’s also a free agent this offseason, but would come much cheaper than resigning the ineffective Dorsey.

The other side of our line is a problem as well. The year after Herm and Carl drafted Dorsey, Pioli took Tyson Jackson, Dorsey’s LSU team mate, with the third overall pick.  The result was about the same:  An ineffective, non-pass rusher with a ridiculously inflated contract.  That contract is so inflated, in fact, that he is slated to be the highest paid Chief this season…by more than $2 million.  That’s right, the Chiefs are scheduled to pay  Tyson Jackson $14 million for the 2013 season.  The only things that John Dorsey  can do in this situation is either cut Jackson, or see if the DE will restructure, which might not be such a bad idea. Keeping Jackson on the team for a considerable pay cut would probably be quite palpable to most fans.

In the middle of the line, the Chiefs are no closer to an answer either. We all remember the groans and gripes when Pioli and Crazy Crennel drafted Dontari Poe last year with the 11th overall pick. I was hoping he would go all “beast mode” last year, but sadly that never materialized. I know it had something to do with the 2 and 3 and 5 technique, carry the one…and whatever, we’ve eaten another pick. I see those three positions as a huge need for our Chiefs.

Moving into the defensive backfield, KC is a bit better off. Three of the four defensive pro-bowlers came from the linebacking corps. Players like Hali, Houston and Johnson force opposing offenses to game plan around them. One gaping hole is the fourth linebacker. With the tragedy surrounding Jovan Belcher, the Chiefs need to find a replacement.

It’s been reported that the Chiefs’ new defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, intends on playing the 3-4 with more aggressive blitz packages. This increases the urgency of filling this void.  Are there any viable free agent options or should Dorsey and Reid look to the draft to fill this hole? There’s talent in the middle rounds (3-4) of this year’s class, the Chiefs  just need to seek it out.

Moving to the secondary, things get a bit better than the front end of the defense. The Chiefs have an excellent corner in Brandon Flowers and a two time pro-bowl safety in Eric Berry.  Kendrick Lewis can hold his own pretty well at the free safety position, but there are some injury concerns there with his shoulder. The two biggest question in the Chiefs secondary, are who lines up opposite of Flowers and who can the Chiefs bring in to provide some depth at the positions?

Going into this off-season, nearly every Chiefs fan agreed that quarterback was the team’s biggest need.  With the Alex Smith trade, that entire scenario has been thrown on its ear. The silver lining in this scenario is the draft is very deep with defensive linemen and defensive back talent, which are two positions the Chiefs need.

That’s how I see it, Addicts. What say you?

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    Are you concerned about Lewis’ injury history or are you comfortable with his as your starting Free Safety?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      I do like Lewis but I would like Reid to bring somone in for competition.

      • Jim Harper

        Agreed. Some of you forget the year that Berry was lost for the season, that Lewis filled nicely and played all year.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

          You’re absolutely right. KC must have the greatest ACL surgeons alive, because all three “ACL Boys” came back and two of the three went to the Pro Bowl. Pretty impressive.

          • superman_25_58

            Ya and no WR or TE’s were getting in this year with what seems like the worst Qb lineup ever! lol SMH!

    • jimfromkcj

      Lets face it, Lewis is a poor tackler and he is just not NFL quality. We need another guy who is a ball hawk with some size. I am wondering if Amerson might not be a guy who can play both safety and corner. Cromartie might be a good pick up in FA.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jordanmpollock Jordan Pollock

        Lewis has played just as good or better than Eric Berry. In terms of being a “ball hawk”. Lewis did not have a steady 2012 season due to injury. In 2010-2011 Lewis had 6 picks and 17 pass deflections(missed 4 games in 2010.). That’s pretty damn good. Berry had 4 picks with 9 pass deflections in 2010 alone, the following year he was hurt (2011). And in 2012 Berry had only 1 pick and 10 pass deflections. Kendrick Lewis is more than capable of being a stellar starting FS in the NFL, take away the years they were both banged up and you have basically the same numbers. Yes I do know Berry has a lot more tackles than Lewis but that is because of Crennel’s system. I love both Lewis and Berry and I feel like this year can finally be the year they both are finally healthy and can really click playing to the highest level.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

          I really hope so. Like I said, I like Lewis, just worried about his shoulder.

  • Guest

    I like Lewis but would like Reid to bring in some competition.

    • Trent Taylor

      Hassan Abdullah FS/SS

  • http://www.facebook.com/travis.pinnick.5 Travis Pinnick

    They singed that guy from the Vikings, don’t know his name

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Osborn/603992320 Steve Osborn

    I find it humorous that everyone is ready to write Poe off after an unspectacular but solid ROOKIE season. The whole DL gets a bad rap b/c they simply do their jobs in a 3-4 defense. I love Hali, Johnson and Houston, but there is a reason they were all in the Pro-Bowl. Yes, it makes sense to replace Dorsey and restructure Jackson. But I wouldn’t say the DL is in crisis mode.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      Crisis, no. But potentially losing 2 of our 3 defensive linemen doesn’t leave us in any shape to not address it either.

    • ryanw

      You make a very good point, Poe made some good progress as the season went on. He may never be elite but he has a chance to be a disruptive force.let’s keep our fingers crossed

  • Guest

    The 4 first round draft picks by Scott Pioli were in order… Tyson Jackson, Eric Berry Jon Baldwin, Dontari Poe. Glen Dorsey was drafted by Herm and Carl. Pioli drafted 2 DL out of his 4 years.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      You are absolutely right. We fixed it in one spot but I missed it in the other.

  • berttheclock

    There have been rumors out of Miami of Sean Smith twittering with Flowers. Much denial by all following that release. No reports of tampering, as yet, but, the interesting part would be Al Harris, the new secondary assistant who coached Smith with the Dolphins. Many fans in Miami say good riddance as they keep posting he slacked off after his first year in ’09. He is big at six three. but, could he recharge his aggressiveness in KC? His agent has suggested he is looking for an $8 M multi year.

    But, two things about FAcy. Dorsey came from a regime where they dealt very little in FAcy, although, they added two stars in White and Woodson. Reid, as many know, was burned badly by Roseman and himself jumping on the FAcy bandwagon, although, the new guys did not have much training camp time to meld.

    Both of these might be why there has been silence on the recent release of Jenkins in Philly, as only 3 teams have been mentioned as hosting tryouts with him. Dorsey knew him in GB and Reid had him with the Eagles.

  • berttheclock

    There has been a mention by Sutton and Dorsey of playing more hybrid schemes, this season. Base 3-4 with 4-3s thrown in. As Dorsey is really a 4-3 player and, even, Jackson appears to fit that scheme better, look for them to be kept with restructured contracts and a new 3-4 player or two added.

  • Pug

    ILB Stewart Bradley is available this this morning. Old friend of Andy Reid.

  • ArrowFan

    Our D line is not that bad off short of restructuring TJ and sighing a FA DE we are set.

  • Don417

    Quite frankly, this “fan” is an embarrassment to other Chiefs fans. He clearly has no idea about the 3-4 defense or how it works.
    What did the author expect from a rookie NT? 10 sacks? Sorry, NT’s dont get sacks. They command double teams and that’s exactly what he did. NT’s dont rack up fancy stats. That’s just the way life goes. Poe did extremely well for a rookie and his potential is off the charts. He’ll only get better. As for Jackson, he was one of the best run stoppers in the NFL. Another fact. He’ll renegotiate or get cut.
    If you want big stats and sacks from your Defensive line, go root for a team that runs a 4-3.
    It’s tiresome seeing posts from Fans that know about football only what they learned from playing Madden.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      I’m not quite sure how I’m an embarrassment to other fans. Every single coach said Poe had a ways to go to fill those #11 overall shoes. And I’m not exactly sure where this myth that we’re “awesome against the run” came from. The Chiefs were 27th against the run last year with 135 yds/gm and 11 TD’s given up. That doesn’t sound like this overpowering, dominant “D” Line I keep hearing about.

      • dominicscarlatti

        You’re not an embarassment by any reasonable measure, and I’m sure this article is appreciated by the vast majority of readers here.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      don:

      Disagree if you want, that’s your right. However, insulting others while using straw man arguments against him all the while making claims you can’t back up is garbage.

      Jason did not say that Poe needed to get sacks, he said he under performed. He is right about that, though I do like Poe’s potential. The fact is that Poe only ranked 38th of 44 NT/DT’s last year. Against the run he was 30th.

      Tyson Jackson is not ‘one of the best run stoppers in the NFL. He ranked 20th out of 22 3-4 DE’s last year. Oh yes, that also includes sacks. If you look at his rating against the run, he zooms all the way up to…….. 18th.

    • Kyle Waggener

      Or go root for the Houston Texans who run a 3-4 and get 20.5 sacks from a Defensive lineman.

  • Jim Harper

    I agree that they will probably restructure Jackson’s contract. He is smart enough to know that nobody including the Chiefs is going to spend that kind of money on him. He was beginning to show improvement last year. Poe showed steady improvement all year and ended up as the Chiefs rookie of the year. Dorsey needs to go somewhere that employs a 4/3. As for him replacement I also like what Pitoitua gave us last year and lets not forget Bailey. Bailey is stronger as a pass rusher. There are a number of strong candidates for Belchers spot Bart Scott would be a good fit. When it comes to corner I like the idea of taking Milliner if we keep the #1 pick. If not then there are solid corners in both the draft and free agency.

  • shayaan

    re-watched the colts game.. man our defense played a hell of a game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      I think next year I’m going to save all of the Chiefs games on my DVR so I can re-watch them all during the off season. No football really sucks!

      • shayaan

        i only saved a few.. unfortunately there weren’t many worth saving. but i enjoy watching our defense even in some of the games we lost (baltimore, pittsburgh, indy).

  • james

    I’d like to see the chief’s go after the beast….Margus hunt.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      I like him a lot. If he is available in round 3 he is a major consideration

    • superman_25_58

      Ya I wouldn’t mind that at all either Margus Hunt or Ziggy Ansah would be cool if we can trade down.

    • dominicscarlatti

      It looks like we might have had to utilize the 2nd rounder we just traded if we wanted Margus. Hard to see how we can get him now unless he falls to us with the first pick in the 3rd round.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.mangione Kyle Mangione

    Hi this is irrelevant but I am tired of looking at the TIM TEBOW post about him coming to Kansas city do me a favor remove sketch an ignorant post from the web site are season was bad enough the last thing I want to see on this site is stupid desperate blogs please remove asap thanks !

  • Erik Hild

    I think the chiefs should go after a veteran DE like Dwight Freeney in free agency to be a 1-2 year stop gap then draft a DE in next years draft. I would like to see the chiefs draft a CB or ILB unless they can get one in free agency.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonfseibel Jason Seibel

      I’d be okay with Freeney in a Chiefs jersey!

      • superman_25_58

        I would love to trade down and get Ziggy Ansah and than Desmond Trufant in the 2nd (assuming they get this years second in the deal) while picking up Ej Manuels with the 3rd

  • Outback Chief

    I like Mike Devito as a FA because of his versatility but I think we’ll draft atleast 1 d-linemen if not two because this year is so deep but Ropati Pitoitua did a good job last year so we still might keep him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryant.theis Bryant Theis

    Would rather see the Chiefs in a 4-3 although recent dominant defenses are primarily 3-4 (Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, etc.) These players we are questioning such as Dorsey and Poe are 4-3 guys. If we could somehow hold on to Dorsey, beef him back up, and put him alongside Poe in the middle with Tamba as our pass rusher. That leaves one DE, one OLB, and a second CB to deal with. But if we could pick up a Sean Smith from Miami who will be a free agent March 12 as a second corner. That leaves a DE and OLB. Taking Jarvis Jones at #1 would be my choice to fill the OLB spot. Then a DE is the only place to be filled on the defense. I know that pretty much discards any big splash on the offense this off-season other than the Smith deal, but as they say Defense Wins Championships. Any thoughts???