Chiefs’ Struggling Defense Is Cause For Concern

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in unfamiliar territory after winning nine games in a row and capturing the attention of the NFL. Kansas City finds itself riding a two game losing skid.

Gone are the days of 9-0 glory and gone are the days of claiming to the best team in the NFL. As of right now, that’s a claim the Chiefs are struggling to back up.

First, the Broncos beat Kansas City in a hard-fought battle in Denver. It wasn’t a statement win per say, but the Broncos came out and executed the plays they needed to in order to win the game.

Kansas City simply couldn’t keep up and lost 17-27.

The game at Arrowhead against the Chargers was seen as the perfect bounce back, and the implications were huge considering Denver comes back to town next Sunday.

The Chiefs seemed focused and they certainly weren’t overlooking the Chargers, but once again, Kansas City couldn’t keep up.

This time though, the defense had to shoulder most of the blame.

Alex Smith played a great game and led the Chiefs’ offense to 395 yards and 38 points. He threw for three touchdowns and one interception, and came up clutch when Kansas City needed him to.

Down 31-34 late in the fourth quarter, Smith found Dwayne Bowe in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:22 left in the game. That touchdown put the Chiefs on top and set up a familiar narrative for Kansas City: Let the defense win the game.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For nine games this season, Bob Sutton’s defense was good enough to live up to the calling.

For nine games it were able to fight, claw and out-physical its opponents on the line when it mattered most. It were able to use speed on the outside to get after the quarterback, and skill in the secondary to lock down his receivers.

Kansas City’s defense had won games for them all season long and it seemed set up to be the hero again, but when it truly mattered the most, it came up short.

Philip Rivers led the Chargers on an eight play drive that culminated in a 26-yard touchdown strike to Seyi Ajirotutu. Kansas City looked shocked, and rightfully so. With 24 seconds left in the game, the Chiefs tried pull off the miracle, but it was unfair to ask the offense to do more than it had done already.

The Chiefs lost, and now they head into next weekend’s clash with Denver on a two game losing streak.

The good news is that Denver ended up losing to the New England Patriots 34-31  in overtime on Sunday Night Football, so despite the Chiefs best efforts, both teams will still enter the Week 11 clash at 9-2.

All’s well that ends well, right? No harm, no foul?

Despite Denver’s unfortunate loss in New England, this NFL weekend didn’t end well for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are in trouble if this defense can’t find a way to regain its old form. Just weeks ago, Sutton’s defense was potentially the most feared in the league. It was a group that was getting after quarterbacks and holding opposing offenses to Pee Wee-like numbers on the scoreboard.

Now though, it can barely get after the quarterback, it’s not causing many turnovers (just one in the past two losses) and it has given up a grand total of 814 yards and 68 points in the past two weeks.

Even if the offense does start finding it’s stride, Smith and Co. are going to have a hard time keeping up with anybody if the defense can’t get back into its rhythm sooner rather than later. To be fair, the Chiefs have look great at times, but they’ve just given up way to many big plays over the past two games.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

To make matters worse, Kansas City’s best rushers, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, were both injured against the Chargers. If they don’t get healthy soon, things will go from bad to worse for the Chiefs’ defense.

(Note: Will my tone change if both Hali and Houston return as normal? Sure. That said, we’ll have to wait and find out. Of course, we’ll let you know here on AA.)

The fact of the matter is, for as good as the Chiefs’ defense has been this season, right now it’s not playing well.

It’s giving up yardage through the air and can’t find a way to get after the quarterback.

The secondary has been suspect, to say the least. The safety play from players not named Eric Berry was horrible against the Chargers, and I can’t say much better for the cornerbacks. Sean Smith was burned on the winning touchdown pass to Ajirotutu, and that’s just one example.

News flash: This is probably not going to change much against Denver next weekend, and if this unit doesn’t shape up quickly, the remaining games against Washington, Oakland, Indianapolis and San Diego could be tough as well.

At the very least we know Rivers and the Bolts aren’t afraid to put points up on the board.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Is it time to panic? Of course not. This team is going to make the playoffs, and they’ve shown enough talent this year to inspire some confidence. If either Hali or Houston come back at 100 percent—and hopefully both do—the pass rush should amp up a bit (they were close on a few tries), and we’ve seen enough from guys like Marcus Cooper and Quintin Demps to know they can be opportunistic.

Is it time to feel a bit of concern though?

Absolutely.

Speaking of playoffs, no matter how good Smith and the offense is, the Chiefs aren’t going to be able to win playoff games when they’re giving up 491 yards of total offense.

And as of right now, the road to the Super Bowl is going to feature quarterbacks not named Rivers, but Brady, Manning or even Luck—and that’s a reason to worry if you’re a Chiefs fan.

Topics: Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs, Marcus Cooper, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Quintin Demps, Tamba Hali

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  • ArrowFan

    Smith looked very vulnerable yesterday and the safety play was just bad. What is the number 1 rule for a corner or safety, never let someone behind you.

    • Jim bernard

      Unbelievable they were in press coverage on that last play!! Wtf

    • toperspective

      That was really, really bad. Also have to question Andy’s clock management on that last drive. Not sure why he called that timeout.

      • Larry Devore

        why he didn’t chew off more of the clock is puzzling in the least.

        • toperspective

          When it happened I assumed he must be planning to run the ball but they scored on the next play and the rest is history.

  • ArrowFan

    On the bright side it looks like we can keep up in a shoot out. Had there been another minute on the clock there is no doubt in my mind we would have scored again.

    • berttheclock

      But, micah said had only Alex Smith thrown like that in the first nine games, we would have won all nine of them.

  • jpopejoy

    With Houston on the field the first 29:30, the chiefs gave up 3 points. After his injury, the chiefs gave up 38 in 30:30 of game. Without those two the season is a 1st round playoff loss.

    • Larry Devore

      First see if they can make the playoffs. Upcoming schedule isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Just hope they can get it in gear for the rest of the season.

      • toperspective

        At this point it’s pretty much guaranteed. I think the next best wild card team is 5-6. Lots of mediocrity this year.

  • Chris Tarrants

    The defense had one bad. Game! The Denver game was a good job of limiting the mistakes and holding manning under 30 was a huge accomplishment. People need to stop panicking. What people should be taking away from this game is that this offense is starting to come together and opponents need to be scared of the idea of yesterday’s offense running with week 1-7′s defense!

    • toperspective

      Yes I’m panicking. Primarily because of the injuries to Houston and Hali. If the pass rush is non-existent as it was yesterday after their departure the defense will get shredded. There was no push whatsoever by the backups and good QB’s will crush any defense if given enough time. Yes I take positives about the offense away from the game but I also take the brutal, brutal defensive performance. It’s like only focusing on the fact that your girlfriend is pretty but not noticing that she is crazy.

  • berttheclock

    Regarding that picture of Matthews emulating Sam “Bam” Cunningham going over the top into the end zone, I believe he would have been stuffed in mid-air by Houston. Many do not realize the importance of Houston in the run game. PFF gave him high marks last week and much of it had to do with him moving across the field to stop runs. He reads the running backs very well. Even his injury was suffered when he ran to his right to help stop the run.

  • toperspective

    A pass rush makes everyone on defense look better and is the key to the turnovers. The offense surprised me and looked good on Sunday but without Hali and Houston the Chiefs won’t be able to compete. Compared to other teams the Chiefs had dodged the injury bullet until Sunday. It just exposed the lack of depth. Dorsey has done a great job remaking this team but it will take time.

  • Priest4Prez

    Question: Do we really want to go to the playoffs fielding this team after the bye week? We are the One and Done kings!! So, why would we want a repeat of 2010? Honestly, we can’t all be blind to what this team looks like and that’s lost. Even with Hali and Houston on the field there wasn’t enough pass rush to warrant speaking of. The offense showed up for one game, but I don’t see this as a regular occurrence. So here we are, as Chiefs fans…even when we’re supposed to be good this team somehow finds ways to look their worst. Yeah we were 2-14 last year and now we’re 9-2…that’s all I keep hearing, some comfort talk. This settling for what we get sorta thinking is bad for this franchise; I for one am not content winning one more game and going 10-6 (it’s more of a reality then people want to grasp). I can keep going, in- game adjustments, horrible offensive play calls ALL YEAR, clock management (although just recent, Reid has had a history of doing)….sigh.
    I haven’t been on here for 11 weeks, I know I know but I’ve been watching the same as everyone here. Y’all have to realize we’re in trouble and there’s not a team Bengals/ Colts that we could beat in the playoffs right now. We need to rally and fast because this fan can’t take another record extending ONE AND DONE. (off my soap box)

    • Larry Devore

      Can you also predict next year’s record. let us know when you jump off the wagon.

      • Priest4Prez

        8-8, how about that? The 9-0 run was fantastic but seriously, we’re 1-2 in the division? We have have to able to beat divisional opponents,,,at home! I can be upset about this, because Denver this weekend will not be pretty. Feel free to call me out for over reacting after Sunday; believe me I’d rather be wrong.

        • Deadmeat

          I understand believing in the Chiefs is hard, after the last few seasons. But, I believe in them. I believe they can pull it together, it’s called faith. They have given us more hope, than I ever expected from them this year. With your line of thinking, I should close my bar & grill, because I know after thanksgiving, it’s going to be slow. No way, you make adjustments and go forward with a positive outlook and fight. Just what the Chiefs will do. If I listened to people like you, I would never have what I got.

  • Davé

    Rivers has been playing extremely well this year and he honestly outplayed himself on Sunday. We did not make him look like Brady or Manning, he did that himself by playing like them. When we did apply pressure he got out of it and made a throw. He was very accurate and very quick to find his open receiver. Do not downplay their offense, they beat the Colts at full strength too. What is amazing is that we haven’t been playing poorly just these past two weeks. We nearly lost to the Browns, Bills, Titans, and Cowboys. Essentially all the crap talking about the Chiefs was warranted because like everyone has said “we have not beat a good team.” We have potential to be great on both sides of the ball, the shit part is we also have the potential to be terrible. There is no knowing what will happen next Sunday afternoon.

  • Davé

    Both players will be back before the playoffs.

  • chris

    If the chiefs don’t win this weekend their dream of 1st seed is all but gone. Neither hali or Houston’s injuries appear to be serious; however both may miss the denver game. If the chiefs don’t win this weekend I hope their defense struggles for a few more games to force the offense into performing and being in shootouts, if by the end of the season the offense and defense are both playing to or even near their potentials then I do not doubt at all that the chiefs can make the super bowl even without homefield advantage

  • vandesan

    Lots of teams that get off to hot starts have slight slides in mid-season. Witness the Lions, among others. Lots of teams that start poorly, like the Chargers, find a way to win in mid-season. Witness Tampa Bay. As long as Chiefs stay competitive, get their injured players back for the playoffs, finish strong with a 12-4 record or so, I don’t worry about the occasional loss. Guess everyone also forgot Chiefs won a bunch of close games earlier this year, two by a single point. The margin between winning and losing in the NFL is small, not large.

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