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Chiefs’ Defensive Line Could Be A Problem In 2013


The Kansas City Chiefs have undergone quite a makeover under John Dorsey and Andy Reid, but one area that could present problems for the new regime in 2013 is the defensive line.

The Chiefs haven’t done much upgrading to the line this offseason. The major change was the departure of DE Glenn Dorsey in free agency. The former first-round draft pick was a disappointment in KC given his draft stock. He developed into a solid run-stopper in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4, but never really had the opportunity to become the pocket-collapsing DT he was projected to be coming out of LSU. Dorsey had been selected to play DT in a 4-3 but coaching changes forced him to move to end.

The Chiefs replaced Dorsey with a similar player in former New York Jet, Mike DeVito. Like Dorsey, DeVito is know for his physical play and run-stopping prowess but not for getting to the QB.

At NT, the incumbent starter is last year’s first-round pick, Dontari Poe. Poe is still a raw talent and while he played well at times last season, his overall performance was average at best. Poe has incredible athletic talent and if new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can find a way to use Poe’s talent to make him a better, the second-year player could become a force in the middle of KC’s line. If not, Poe will go down in the books as another bust at defensive line for the Chiefs.

Speaking of busts, Tyson Jackson will likely start at the other DE spot. Jackson is following a similar career path to Dorsey in that he showed some improvement after an abysmal rookie season. Jackson even managed to get to the QB a few times last season, though he still wasn’t able to provide consistent pressure, which is much more important than sack numbers.

Sutton is expected to run a much more aggressive version of the 3-4 than Romeo Crennel so it will be interesting to see if DeVito, Poe and Jackson can flourish in his system. DeVito is familiar with the type of system Sutton runs, so if the former Jet’s sack numbers from his time in New York are an indication of what we can expect from the DEs in KC, we may not see much of a change in 2013.

Lastly, the Chiefs have a staggering lack of depth along their defensive line. Allen Bailey and Jerrell Powe are still hanging around but neither have made much of an impact during their time in KC. The Chiefs could use some more seasoned backups in case of injuries to their starters.

The Chiefs, on paper at least, are extremely talented at the linebacker and corner positions. If the defensive line is up to the task, Kansas City could sport one of the NFL’s best defense. If, however, Jackson continues to be average and Poe fails to improve, then the line could be the downfall of Andy Reid’s 2013 Chiefs.

What do you think, Addicts? Will the 2013 Chiefs defensive line rise to the occasion or will they be the weak spot on the defense?

Tags: Featured Kansas City Chiefs Popular

  • Chief Hokie

    Who we need to watch out for is Jerrell Powe. That guy has a knack for collapsing the pocket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjqoKxg4iKc

    and he is a hustler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TADxAR3yvZU

    I know it’s just preseason footage but the kid has potential. I wouldn’t mind seeing a trio of Jackson-Powe-Poe. What an enormous line that would be.

    • freshmeat62

      I liked Powe also a couple years ago. I also saw where he would blow up the line, only to let the ball carrier run thru his tackle. Maybe he’s fixed that problem.

      • superman_25_58

        that’s why you leave Jackson at LE, POE in the middle and put Powe at RE and let him go help Tamba in pass rush.

  • Calchiefsfan

    This to me is the #1 question mark for the Chiefs so I’m right with you on this one Paddy. We have enough talent, I think, to be decent. If Bailey can stay healthy and Powe can get more playing time then the d line will be okay, but it really all depends on how well Sutton coaches them up.

    What an abysmal year last year. We were shown what poor coaching can do to a team. So this year I’m looking at our coaches to make the difference on a team that has enough talent to go to the playoffs. The d line is our weakest position group but I still think there is enough talent to hold their own.

  • freshmeat62

    I think it’s interesting that Dorsey was let go, yet Jackson is still here. And this was from a whole new set of eyes. What do people see in this guy? Maybe it was just dollars, as I know Jackson redid his contract to a lesser amount, and I don’t think Dorsey did. The Chiefs may still pick up some off the scrap pile as teams make their cuts.

  • oldchiefsfan

    Dontari Poe started playing a lot better as the season progressed last year and I expect he’ll continue to improve this year. I think its Jackson’s make or break time and DeVito has proven he can take up space on the line.

    I always thought in a 3-4 it was the OLB job to pressure the QB and the Defensive linesmen job to occupy the offensive line and give Hali and Houston a better chance of getting to the QB.

    • berttheclock

      Well, that is the conception in most 3-4s, however, J J Watt has changed that concept. However, he appears to be the only exception.

    • toperspective

      Poe played better but he still wasn’t setting the world on fire.

      • ArrowFan

        As long as he can force a double team he is doing his job.

      • shayaan

        expecting a rookie nose tackle to set the world on fire is ignorant. not even vince wilfork or haloti ngata did that. few positions have a steeper learning curve, and poe’s was even steeper coming from a program like memphis.

        • toperspective

          I guess you don’t understand the subtleties of language. How about – he did better but he still wasn’t good. It was ignorant to take him so high in the draft because he wasn’t all that good in college, even in a weak conference. Oh, but he was great in workouts. Quoting from an article on Poe:

          “A great nose tackle can split a double-team and make plays behind theline of scrimmage. Kelly Gregg, in his last year of his long career, did. It’s the norm. A good nose tackle may not split the double-team, but can at least crush the pocket. A fair nose tackle can draw a
          double-team, and occasionally push the pocket, and a poor nose tackle will draw the double-team and do basically nothing.

          Then you have Poe.”

          • shayaan

            players are not drafted solely based on what they did in college or what conference they played in. if that were the case, the most productive SEC pass-rushers would always go near the top of the draft, and would always translate into productive NFL players, but that is far from the case. a certain amount of projection has to be done, and with his size, athleticism, and work ethic, poe did and still does project as a very productive and successful NFL player.

          • toperspective

            Not solely, but primarily. Look at the 2013 draft – the SEC had 12 players selected in the 1st round. Poe may end up being successful but at this point it is an unknown. How many “workout wonders” who weren’t very good college players turn out to be pro bowl caliber NFL players? I hope it happens but I doubt it.

          • shayaan

            i think primarily is a stretch, too. it’s typically a combination of college production and projection to the NFL game. for some players, the college production is high but they don’t project as highly to the NFL (look at the sack leaders in the SEC each year, and how few of them translate to the NFL, if they even get a job in the NFL). for others, the college production isn’t there, but their skillset translates well to the NFL. many workout warriors don’t turn into successful players, but poe is more than just another workout warrior. his versatility and work ethic were on display in his college tape, even if he didn’t put up big numbers – he was used at every spot on memphis’ d-line, and played almost every snap of every game, despite being double-teamed constantly as the only impact player on their defense. he had a different defensive coordinator every season, and obviously had a lot of developing left to do. but he showed last season that he is taking to it well. i expect a big jump in production this year, both from his growth as a player and from our more aggressive scheme.

          • toperspective

            Besides, the Chiefs most likely could have traded down and taken Poe 10+ spots later. It was just poor drafting by the village idiot, Pioli.

        • mnelson52

          I agree with you. We already know he is faster than any man his size.His upper body strength is the best on the team. I think he is the largest man on the team. So for him not to get any push up the middle, it would have to be technic or lacks the strength in his legs to get a good push. Both can be worked on to get better.

  • berttheclock

    I was very surprised R&D passed on taking Kyle Love off waivers. The Jags grabbed him, instead. He had been cut because team doctors had found he has Type 2 diabetes. I have had Type 2 for almost 7 years and it is fairly easy to control, especially, with proper medication and a great deal of exercise. Love would have added depth.
    My only problems with it were having to give up hijacking Dreyer’s (Edy’s in the Mid West) ice cream trucks and laying off the great ales of the PNW.

    • toperspective

      And I’m surprised he picked Knile Davis instead of trying to improve the pass rush.

  • toperspective

    I concur that this is a big problem. Jackson is a bust and the lack of a push by the DL is going to put tremendous pressure on the secondary.

  • Jim Harper

    Damn Paddy! Here I was just rolling along in 7th heaven over my new & improved edition of the Chiefs. Then you throw this major buzz kill out there with all these valid points and just ruin my day. Actually despite all your points which are certainly valid all is not lost. There is still FA help out there should they not come together by the end of camp. So no need to hit the panic button just yet.

  • Ron White

    This defense won’t be so predictable on the pass rush. The attacking style will have an effect on our ability to get a push with the linemen. I think we will see much better results overall from the blitz as well. Add in the improved secondary to give us another second to get there plus the fact that we will be playing with a lead more often than before and you have a formula for much improvement. I am not as concerned about the d-line if these circumstances are realized.

  • ArrowFan

    Jackson has done every thing Romeo wanted him to do. It is no miricle that we had two of the best ends in the NFL at stopping the run because that was what Romeo wanted. The pass rush was not their however Romeo never had the hardest to fill key part of his 3-4 the NT. He did pick up Poe but as a rookie he was only goinging to be so effective. Also it isn’t like other teams where in need of passing the ball on us last year. I’m not scared at all of our DL, however you do make a point about injuries it is thin, but not inept.

    • mnelson52

      Jackson also improved and got pressure on the QB after Crennel relieved himself of DC duties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gracen88 Chadwyn Waln

    Tho it would be nice to see another dt and neil smith out there all may not be as devastating as one might think. I believe that as long as we have the guys on the line get some push, and with an agressive dc I dont see why not, poe get a double team, the others keep their lanes, and we find not just a sufficient ilb to pair with dj but a quality one then the box may not be in as much trouble as some are leading us to believe.

    But to play devils advocate we did leave dwight freeney and john Abraham out there. And question to all who read this Dorsey i believe is doin a good job but if he really want competition at safety then bring in woodson. Hes at the end of his career y es but he’s still a stud and also we have an old teammate of his in al harris. What better way to train commings than to have a duo of elite veteran safety show you how its done. And not to mention he could pull a marcus allen and spit in the face of raider nation.. Those guys were some of the best of they’re time.

    I like this team right now.

  • Adam Schwartz

    As much as I don’t want to I would have to whole heartedly agree with this article, our D-Line looks horrible on paper and on tape, it is overly discouraging that we also did not address the other ILB spot next to DJ, that is gonna leave us vulnerable against the run, and if these guys cant fill gaps, Hali and Houston wont be making to the QB very often. There is not reason for Richard Seymour to be on no team, he can come in and play on passing downs only, and his wealth of knowledge on how to be a great 3-4 linemen would be a huge help for the guys that we have on the roster, we are gonna need some legitimate vetern help on the D-Line and I don’t think we are gonna get it

  • http://twitter.com/SteereJohn John Steere

    The thing is, you can only fix so many problems in one off-season. The new regime has addressed many of them, but chose to mostly stand pat on the D-line. I think they were gambling that the D-line could be good enough. Poe is likely to improve significantly in year two. If he can start to collapse the pocket up the middle, that changes they dynamics for everyone. Jackson, while not the star he was drafted to be, is serviceable. In the 3-4 the units job is to set up the linebackers, where we have some pass-rushing strength. If we need to upgrade, it is likely to come next year when we will have fewer off-season needs to fill and the staff has a better read of what they actually have now.

  • chiefdeorty

    I agree Jackson has not been what you think you are getting with a pick that high but I do say he has improved and has been willing to take a pay cut as a result. I think this year will be the year he shows up maybe because of Poe. Poe should be a beast this year I like the d-line coach and think he will get the most out of these guys. DeVito Is much bigger than Dorsey which will help, good run stopper I think with the 3 of them they should be able to quit a bit of pressure, also people will be thinking of Houston and Tamba, it is going to be alright just have a little faith! I like that Jerrel Powe kid I hope he comes along and gets some playing time so he can get a new contract next year.

  • jimfromkcj

    I think you could make the same argument for the off line. If Fisher replacing Winston is the only change, I doubt there is any upgrade and could possibly be a downgrade. Winston’s PFF numbers were not that bad.