Sep 8, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) reacts after running an interception back for a touchdown during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

How Good Was The Kansas City Chiefs Defense Against The Jacksonville Jaguars?

ArmchairAddict1

The Kansas City Chiefs had a dominant performance to start the 2013 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After overcoming an early blocked punt for a safety, the Chiefs completely controlled the game from that moment on in route to a 28-2 victory.

Despite the one sided road victory, there will continue to be questions about the KC offense. Some will say that they were a perfect 3 for 3 in the red zone and then took their foot off the gas pedal once the game was in hand. Others will say that they benefitted from great field position in the first half and then couldn’t get anything going in the second. You can’t really argue with either side. That’s why I’m just taking a wait and see approach with the offense. You can worry if you want, or you can feel great if you want. I’m just going to wait and see what next week brings before I pass judgement. That’s why I’m going to focus this week on the best defensive performance that KC has seen in a long time.

There is absolutely no question that the Chiefs had an amazing defensive performance on Sunday. The only question is just how excited KC fans should get about this performance. Pessimists will say:

“The Jags are terrible, Blaine Gabbert was banged up, Mercedes Lewis was injured, and Justin Blackmon was suspended, so this doesn’t really mean anything.”

Those are all valid points and should be taken into consideration when evaluating this defensive performance. However, if your opinion is that “everyone does that to Jacksonville”, you are incorrect.

Just like the Chiefs, the Jags were bad last season, REALLY bad. Like KC last season, they didn’t get great QB play, but unlike the Chiefs who had Jamaal Charles all season, the Jags were without their star player Maurice Jones-Drew for most of the season. Despite being without Jones-Drew for much of the year, the Jags offensive season averages looked a lot better than what they put up against KC on Sunday.

Below is a chart showing what Jacksonville’s offense averaged in 2012, what KC’s defense averaged in 2012, and then what KC held Jacksonville to on Sunday.

So if this was the same old bad Jacksonville offense against the same old bad Kansas City defense, you would expect the numbers to split the difference between what they averaged last season. However, what that chart shows is that every single area was a clear upgrade in KC’s favor. So either the Jags offense got significantly worse over the offseason, the Chiefs defense got significantly better, or some combination of the two.

The safe bet is that it’s some combination of the two, but there are some signs that point in KC’s favor. First off, the 6 sacks that they put up was the most by the KC defense since week 13 of the 2011 season when they sacked the Bears’ Caleb Hanie seven times in the Tyler Palko to Dexter McCluster hail mary game. That means they put up the most sacks that they’ve had in 20 games in the first game with Bob Sutton’s new attacking defense. That to me points to that being more about the Chiefs than the Jags. Yes, rookie Luke Joeckel had a rough day blocking Justin Houston, but does anybody think it would have been much different if Guy Whimper was still playing RT for them?

While we’re on the subject of sacks, over the past two seasons combined the Chiefs have had only 12.5 total sacks from their defensive linemen. That’s an average of 0.4 defensive line sacks per game. On Sunday they had 2.5 (that’s 50% of their defensive line sack total from 2012). Dontari Poe looks like an All Pro defensive lineman in the making, and it started in the preseason so that can’t be put on Jacksonville either. This is another sign that this performance may have been more about KC being improved than it was about Jacksonville being worse.

If you’re still not convinced that this was about KC, I’ve got a couple of more numbers for you. While a lot was made going into the game about the Jags not having Blackmon and Lewis, they did get their best offensive player back from injury in Jones-Drew. While Jones-Drew only played a handful of games last season, he was still a Pro Bowl caliber player for them when he last played. If you go back to 2011, Jones-Drew has basically played in 21 games. The Jags were a bad team over that span, going 6-15 in those games. Despite the poor performance of his team, Jones-Drew rushed for 2,014 yards at 4.7 YPC, and an average of 95.9 YPG. On Sunday the Chiefs held him to 15 carries for 45 yards and a 3.0 yards per carry average. So the KC defense successfully stopped an elite running back and put constant pressure on the QB.

If you’re STILL not sold that the KC defense is for real, let me try to put into perspective just how dominant their performance was. The 2 points scored by Jacksonville was their lowest point total since October 11, of 2009 when they were shut out in Seattle. That covers a span of 59 games. In order to find a home game when they scored that few points you have to go all the way back to December 26, of 2004 when they were shut out at home by Houston. That’s a span of 8 seasons and 64 home games.

In terms of yardage production there were only two teams last season that shut down the Jags like KC did. The Bears held them to 189 total yards and the Texans held them to 117 total yards. Those are two of the better defenses in the league, finishing in the top ten in both yards and points allowed. That would put KC in pretty good company.

We will have to wait and see what will happen with the Kansas City offense this season. Next week against Dallas we should get a better idea. I do feel confident in saying that KC is going to be much improved on defense this season. Every game won’t be as dominant as it was Sunday, but I think its safe to say that the Chiefs defense may finally live up to the individual talent that we’ve known was on this roster.

All I can say is….

Watch out Tony Romo, the Chiefs are coming for you!

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Addicts, if you enjoy reading my weekly musings on all things Chiefs, check out my new weekly NFL column on Fansided.com, “The Armchair Quarterback’s Guide To The NFL”. The first one premiered last Thursday, and you can look for a new edition every Thursday morning.

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