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Oct 7, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after sacking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Baltimore won the game 9-6. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Defense: Elite or Not?



Last season the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense was, statistically speaking, one of the worst in the league. Over 16 games, they were ranked as follows:

Points per Game: 25th – 26.6 PPG

Yards per Game: 20th – 356.5 YPG

Passing Yards per Game: 21st – 220.8 YPG

Interceptions: 31T – 7

Sacks: 29th – 27

Rushing Yards per Game: 27th – 135.7 YPG

Those stats are terrible. Absolutely abysmal.


On paper, the Chiefs should have had a good defense. They played a base 3-4 and all three down linemen were first round draft picks. Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe were all chosen in the first round to stop the run. But they didn’t.

The Chiefs have, potentially, the best pass-rushing duo in the league with linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Yet, with that talent level, they couldn’t even get to the opposing quarterbacks more than 27 times all season?

Middle linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety, Eric Berry, are pro-bowlers. They are also first round draft picks who were brought in to stuff the run. Yet the team allowed nearly 136 yards per game on the ground.

And how about the pass? Brandon Flowers is considered an elite cornerback by many in the league. Again, Eric Berry is quickly becoming a household name akin to Reed and Polimalu. How is 221 yards per game and 51 pass plays for more than 20 yards okay?

But the biggest question is: what changed? How is this year’s defense so much different from the squad that took the field last year?

Most of the names are the same, the base defense is the same, but the attitude is different.

Defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, has instituted an “attacking style 3-4.” Instead of using guys like Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson to absorb blocks, he’s sending these mountains of men after the quarterback.

Mike Devito was signed in free agency to replace the departing Glenn Dorsey. Both men have similar builds, similar play styles and similar career stats. But in case you missed it, Mike Devito had a stop against the San Francisco 49ers rush last week, where he grabbed RB Lemichael James’ jersey with one hand and pulled him to the ground at the line of scrimmage. One handed. When James was running. Devito just looked down at him as if to say: “you ain’t getting by me, dude.”

Dorsey never did that.

Last season, former Oakland Raider, Stanford Routt was brought to Kansas City in free agency to replace the “other” Brandon (Carr.) He was continually burned deep and was dropped from the team like a bad habit when things really started to go south last year. From that point on, former head coach, Romeo Crennel, never really found an answer to put opposite of Flowers.

It took Andy Reid and general manager, John Dorsey the first week of free agency to get what they were looking for. Six foot, three inch, former Miami Dolphins corner back Shaun Smith was brought in to be the answer for the Calvin Johnsons of the league. Thus far, he’s shown why he was brought in and is earning his keep, as he’s already hauled in one INT and has several passes defended.

Routt wasn’t even close to that.

Every Chiefs fan knows the story of inside linebacker Jovan Belcher. He wasn’t that good of a football player before he killed his girlfriend and then himself, and now that’s all he’ll be remembered for. Aside from the families that were shattered on that day, a hole was left in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense. Reid and Dorsey have done their best to plug that hole with former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan and rookie Nico Johnson. Both players have had flashes so far in the preseason and the position has improved dramatically from last season.

But, Addicts, we all thought the Chiefs were going to have a top 5 defense last season. To quote the famous lyrics by The Who: “I Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Still, I ask you: what’s different?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It seems that was the mantra of the Chiefs defense last season.

“Bend, don’t break” was the battle cry.

This year, at least thus far, break the other team as often as they can seems to be the direction they’re headed. Let’s see how that translates to the field.

Enjoy your weekend, Addicts!

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  • freshmeat62

    I think this has the potential to be a top 5 D. A lot of that potential has to do w/ the O doing their part and being able to stay on the field some. I’m putting a lot of hope in Poe turning into an elite DT. W/ his strength and speed, he could be an animal. Chiefs have excellent LB’s in Houston, Hali, and Johnson, and an improved secondary. Don’t know what to expect from the DE’s, but if they are just average, w/ the rest of the top quality of the other players, that should be good enough. Another big factor is the attacking D of Sutton vs. the Romeo bend don’t break, which I just hated.

    But like I said, a lot has to do w/ the O being able to keep the D fresh.

  • Calchiefsfan

    The Chiefs have a chance to be good this year, which is a vast improvement over last year. You’re right Jason, they sucked last year but then again so did the rest of the team. Elite is asking a little too much, at least in the first year of a new coach and system. It will take a while to get everyone on the same page, an example being the Frank Gore run last week. Most of the players have played together for a couple of years so that should speed up the learning curve.

    I have to say though when I look at how Poe has played, the addition of Smith and an overall better attitude i get excited about the possibilities. Poe has been a beast. The NT position is the cornerstone of a 3-4 defense, (just ask Pioli, except he didn’t make any effort until drafting Poe, the jerk). Poe is stuffing the run, collapsing the pocket and making our DE’s look better. If we get this kind of play out of Poe consistently, man who knows how good the Chiefs can be? Add to that a better, deeper secondary and I have to say I am optimistic. Elite no, very good a distinct possibility. We can talk about elite next year.

    • sidibeke

      We have the personnel to rank top 3 secondaries and LBs. We can talk elite this year.

      • Calchiefsfan

        I hope you’re right. My point is we have the talent no doubt but with a new DC and a new system it will take some time to put it all together. All I’m saying is let’s get good before we start talking elite and we weren’t good last year.

  • Justin R Groth

    If we see plenty of this then yea they will be pretty good. (My paste function isn’t working). Google Big Ben got Kids N playd

  • robjeromy

    They would have been a top defense last year if they had help from the other phases of the game… Offense, Special Teams… Our defense was on the field so much that it would make even the most ELITE defense look mediocre… 3 and outs don’t win games or put points on the board. If our guys had a chance to rest a little bit on the sidelines they could come out swinging on their next series… Hopefully with Alex we can give our probowlers some much needed rest time… That’s all…

    • Tra Tha Chief

      yeah and when we are playing from behind the whole game the stats get skewed. so that’s why we don’t have a lot of INTs or Sacks because they are running the ball. which then opens up the play action whenever they want which is why they get those 51 pass plays over 20 yards. Our defense will be elite with help just like my well endowed friend is saying if we don’t have 3 and outs 3 out of every 4 possessions…. and a turnover on the 4th possession

    • mnelson52

      I agree the other phases of the game could have helped but I went back and checked. I only checked the first half of the season but even though we were losing, Chiefs won the time of possession 7 of the 8 games. That means at least in the first half of the season, our defense got more rest than the opposing teams.

  • L peyton

    The thing that will help kc defense the most is a decent offense. Putting long drives together, using some clock, and not turning the ball over will give the defense a chance to rest and stay fresh. Also it will be nice to see what this defense can do when playing with the lead for a change. Rout and J Brown where getting picked on constantly and just killing us. I like how Shaun Smith has looked so far, and our depth at safety looks good with Demps, Abdullah,Hartman and hopefully Cummings when he is healthy. Don’t forget about Poe up front he could have a ProBowl type season. Could very well be an Elite Defense.

  • Keith Strait

    dontari poe pick 6 this year. you heard it here first kids.

    • Jason Seibel

      You have finally said something I can get behind!

      • Jim Harper


    • Clint Moran

      I could see that happening. Right place at the right time, now I certainly don’t see him rumbling his 346 lbs (or whatever he weighs since the “bbq free” diet) for 40 plus yds to pay dirt, but, close to the goal line….. I’d say he has enough quickness to outrun most o-lineman that would be giving chase, and I doubt there is a qb in the nfl that would dare step in front of that freight train to stop the td. Bold prediction, but I like it.

  • Mark Bustamante

    You can’t play sound defense when you’re offense is the master of the 3 and out. NO DEFENSE could sustain if as soon as the left the field they had to go right back to work.

    • chiefridgy

      See: last season

  • Austin Wagner

    Elite status is not earned on paper or even in the preseason. It is earned when opposing offensive coordinators fear the defense and have to break their normal game planning to account for the defense’s nastiness. Only time will tell.

    • Danny W

      This is true, for sure. It’s way to soon to be speculating on elite status. But if we can sustain more than exactly one drive per game we should be vastly improved. I mean how many pro bowlers does it take?

      • tm1946

        Dead on. Last year was bad on many levels. But to have all those “proBowlers” and not be able to do much on the field was pitiful.
        Let’s play a few regular season games and THEN decide how good this defensive side is.

  • Tra Tha Chief

    The most dominating player so far this preseason for the chiefs………. wait for it………… Justin HOUSTON. has anyone else seen him manhandle who every is put in front of him. they can not run the ball his way without him putting a hand on the ball carrier…. he is quickly becoming my favorite chief look out D.Bo

    • Danny W

      No I watch every game twice and Houston is all over the place. I’m talking living in the backfield, if it’s a toss, he doesn’t lose contain, if it’s a pass he’s in the right position. The guy is going to be one of the best OLB’s we’ve had since Derrick Thomas. You can take that to the bank. Good take.

      • Joe Myers

        When they drafted him I said to my self he was a future HOF !!!

  • Jim Harper

    All the input by everyone is true, but the biggest difference is that everyone has bought into the new system and mindset. They are playing as a unit, not as individuals. It is so awesome to watch.

  • jimfromkcj

    I think when you all take time to measure the actual time on the field for the Chiefs, you will find that it is a lot closer to 50 50 than you think. So yes, the offence didn’t do the defence any favors, but most games last year were decided by half time and the defence weren’t getting many 3 and outs when they were still fresh.

    • KCMikeG

      True. It wasn’t the time of possession (aka exercise in futility) as much as the turnovers that put our opponents on a short field and our own inability to finish a drive with a score.

  • Chris Tarrants

    If our d last year wasn’t on the field for 45 minutes a game and didn’t start out defending the red zone half the time then I think the numbers would have been a lot different. 280 pounders do need a breather every now and then lol

  • Danny W

    Well how many pro bowlers does it take for a defense to be legit or elite? Tambi Hali, Justin Houston, Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson, and most likely Brandon Flowers, and Dontari Poe. My goodness if we can sustain at least two decent drives per quarter we should be worlds better. Seriously the defense has the potential to be 90′s Chiefs good, or early 2000′s Ravens good. Plus letting them push the pocket, like it was designed to be! Man you talk about give me goose bumps……………. Give’m two breathers a game plus half time and you just might be surprised. I won’t say elite yet but we were better than the numbers gave us credit for last year.

  • sidibeke

    Bend don’t break works just fine if you have an O that can chew up some clock and put points on the board. And there’s too much speed and talent on this d to not attack. I want to see a D capable of winning games, like those of DT and Neil under Marty.

  • Troy Utt

    Last year was a combination of factors that played into the defense not living up to it’s billing. Despite draft status the defense never really had a chance as they were constantly on the field! Playing from behind the offense went 3 & out forcing the “D” to try & come back up with the ball, defend the short end of the field, or hang on to prevent that one last TD at the end of the game! We are now placed in a much more desirable position as with the addition of Alex Smith, Reid’s hybrid WCO, & the cast of surrounding players it puts our offense in a position not only able to score… But to EAT UP CLOCK during the drive! With fresh legs & the bolstered line-up from the off-season flurry of additions made from the brass at One Arrowhead Dr. the Chiefs “D” should be able to run with the best of them! WAR CHIEFS!!!

  • berttheclock

    The first quarter tonight might tell a tale about this. The Steelers O-line has given up nine sacks in their first two games and the fans in Pittsburgh are not very thrilled about the play calling by Haley. Against the Redskins, he called 4 straight running plays and his star back became injured. One of those plays was a run up the middle on 3rd and long. Remember those “wonderful” days of old when Haley called plays for the Chiefs?

  • jimfromkcj

    I can understand you guys wanting to put a positive slant on something, But to be truthful the Chiefs stank in every phase of the game last year. Calling any player or part of the team elite is wishful thinking. Until they go on the field and show elite, they are just a 2 and 14 team. So far through 2 games they have been a 2 and 14 team. With all the changes and additions that Reid and Dorsey have made, there are only glimpses of anything that is better than 2 and 14. If Jamal Charles should go down again, they may not be a 2 and 14 team. They could be worse.

  • Joe Myers

    Ok iv been saying for a long time if the chiefs if they would switch to an attacking defense the speed woukd set this defense . Is this defense elite yes the world just don’t know it yet . Poe oh man if he is what he suppose to be it is on .

  • scomstock55

    our stats were so bad due to the amount of time on the field….I wonder how much time we spent on the field compared to teams with good offenses