The Kansas City Chiefs New Look Defense

1 Feature From The Bleachers

Much has been made of the Kansas City Chiefs roster this offseason. The only team that hasn’t been highly scrutinized is Special Teams and they were gutted of their two top returners. However, Special Teams appears to be reloaded with De’Anthony Thomas stepping in where Dexter McCluster left off on punt returns and Knile Davis seems to be the one penciled in as he steps up from his #2 position to solidify the #1 kickoff returner spot.

Next, the offense has gotten it’s fair share of attention this offseason. QB Alex Smith wants a new contract. The Chiefs say they want to give him one. So, everyone is wondering… what’s the problem? Many fans are still in aftershock from the earthquake that didn’t hit when the Chiefs neglected to draft a wide receiver in the first round. Predicting who’s who among Chiefs offensive linemen is a like navigating the Land of the Lost. However, plenty (of writers) are going there (myself included). Then there’s the predicting who will make the final offensive  roster at the RB-WR-TE positions. Your guess is as good as mine and as far as determining who will play what position along the OL (besides Center, where Rodney Hudson has his name etched in stone… knock on wood) someone could start their own reality show, “Guesses Gone Wild.”

As much as the offensive line will have a new look, that much we know is true for the Chiefs defense.

The Chiefs defense didn’t need a whole face lift. Just some minor cosmetic work. And yet, four of eleven key positions could have that new skin appearance.

ILB, Joe Mays

I have to say I have always liked Joe Mays. First hated… then liked. After all, he did play for the oft booed Denver Broncos first. In 2011, the Chiefs met the Broncos in week 9 and Mays was in on 8 tackles. I recall Mays being all over the field. It seemed like his tackles were either timely or big hits that sent a message.

When Joe Mays broke his leg in late October of 2012 it took him out for the season and the Broncos… as they often do… gave up on him in the offseason.

Wesley Woodyard, fellow Broncos linebacker said of Mays following his injury,

‘We’re going to miss Joe. Things definitely aren’t going to be the same without having him out there, his presence, his leadership and his ability to go out there and make plays.”

Last season Mays played for the Texans but that should be considered his bounce back year. In other words, this season should be a breakout year. Do I think he could make the Pro Bowl this coming season? Not really. After all, he’ll likely be a 2 down backer and not necessarily because he’s unable to cover on passing downs but because I’m pretty sure the Chiefs have other ideas for what to do in passing down situations in terms of utilizing personnel that can blanket receivers. And that won’t include Mays.

That leads to the Chiefs new look coverages.


ILB-SS, Husain Abdullah

Just yesterday, in his piece called, Kansas City Chiefs Make An Interesting Move In The Secondary, Ben Nielsen wrote,

“It appears the Chiefs now plan on moving Berry to the free safety position and are going to let Husain Abdullah roam around as the box safety. “

I have a stronger feeling about Husain Abdullah than I do about Mays. Abdullah should have his best year as a pro. Once again last season was a “comeback” season following his one year hiatus on a religious trek. Normally when an NFL player is out for one season, they never make it back. Knowing a little about Andy Reid’s background as a Mormon and his belief system, it’s understandable that Husain was the first player Reid signed after arriving at Arrowhead himself on January 4th, of 2013.

A Minnesota fan and blogger on PFT named the Prophet said the, “Chiefs are getting a good player. Abdullah was the only guy doing anything when Minny’s secondary was bottoming out in 2011.”

You don’t have to take a fan’s word for it… the Chiefs gave Abdullah a one-year contract in 2013 and then thought enough of him to bring him back in 2014 on a two year contract. It’s also not enough to say that Reid likes high character guys when referring to Abdullah. He’s a quality man through and through. Beyond that… he can play football.

More importantly, Abdullah will help change the face of the K.C defense in 2014. If Eric Berry is roaming wild deeper in the defensive backfield and knocking receivers silly (playing the role Ed Reed played for the Baltimore Ravens for so many years), it solves a huge question mark for the Chiefs. Is it easier to find a free safety who can play free safety like Ed Reed or is it easier to replace Ed Reed’s character with Eric Berry and then find a player to replace Eric Berry in the box? It looks like the Chiefs have figured that one out.

If the Chiefs rush Justin Houston and Tamba Hali off the edges and a rested Dontari Poe and either rookie Dee Ford or newby Vance Walker up the middle with Derrick Johnson and Husain Abdullah covering backs and tight ends and Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper outside with Brandon Flowers nailing down the slot and Eric Berry at Free Safety… the Chiefs ability to cover all possible receivers and simultaneously put pressure on the QB improves greatly.

That leads us to the new face of the Chiefs defensive line.


DE, Vance Walker

The Chiefs added Vance Walker who is much more capable of placing pressure on opposing QBs than Tyson Jackson ever was. In his recent post called, “The Power Of The Pass Rush: Why The Chiefs Drafted Dee Ford” AA’s own Lyle Graversen stated that,

“Over the past two seasons Tyson Jackson had 7 sacks, 1 QB hit, and 11 QB hurries combined. Over that same time span, Walker had 7 sacks, 7 QB hits, and 47 QB hurries. While the sack numbers are the same, the overall pressures are not. If you add the sacks, hits, and hurries together and divide the snaps they played by the total, Jackson averaged one QB “pressure” every 59 snaps. Walker, on the other hand, averaged one every 23 snaps. That’s a pretty significant upgrade.”

There’s no way to ignore that kind of positive impact when it comes to the Chiefs pass rush as well as the changing the face of the defense overall. In this case, it has nothing to do with Dee Ford. This is purely taking into account that the Chiefs got rid of Tyson Jackson and replaced him with Vance Walker. That move alone was significant.

Since you brought up Dee Ford… let’s see how he will affect the new look D?


OLB/DE, Dee Ford

When coach Andy Reid appeared on NFL Network’s AM Live recently he said, “The thing I like about Dee Ford is his energy and work ethic.”

In fact, Andy Reid has said Ford’s desire and preparation is, “Off the charts.” Others have said Ford’s first step reminds them of Chiefs great Derrick Thomas. That’s pretty heady stuff so obviously the Chiefs have high expectations for Ford. When Tamba Hali was interviewed after the first day of OTA’s he said he looks forward to hopefully getting all the Chiefs pass rushers on the field at once.

That’s clearly going to be part of the Chiefs new look pass rush. Houston, Hali and Ford all teeing off on the QB together. Personally, I can’t wait to see that. Hopefully they’ll be too much for opposing offensive lines to handle.

In an interview at the Senior Bowl Dee Ford said, he wants to emulate Vonn Miller and Derrick Thomas and others but he sets some high standards for himself as well. Go to the 1:45 mark of this video to hear the names of other famous players Ford studies and wants to be like.

For a defense that ranked 25th at stopping the opponents passing game (net passing yards) the Chiefs look like they have done the most to improve that than any other part of the team.

And shouldn’t that have been the primary focus this offseason? If the Chiefs can’t stop anyone it won’t matter what they can accomplish on offense. January’s playoff game made that perfectly apparent. Without counting the contributions of the Chiefs 2013 and 2014 DB draftees Sanders Commings or Phillip Gaines, who could both play big roles on the defense this season, the face of the Chiefs defense should look much more attractive to Chiefs fans this season.

What do you say Addict Fans? Would you rather kiss or slap the new face of the Chiefs defense?

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Jacob

    Definitely pumped to see how it all pans out. The thought of Gaines and Commings having big roles this year is exciting. I think if we fixed all the problems with the defense, the Chiefs will be alright. Besides RG, there are no HUGE holes in the offense. Waiting for Training camp is going to kill me.

    • ladner morse

      The Rookie report in St. Joe in 48 days. That’s one day short of 7 weeks. I know I plan on being there shortly thereafter.

  • berttheclock

    I am interested in seeing how Kyle Love will fit. His best year was in 2011 with the Pats when, they used him in a 3-4 to spell Wilfork at NT and even used both of them at the same time by moving Wilfork to DE. After that, the Pats switched to the 4-3 and he was not the same, nor was he any better with the Jags playing a 4-3. He did have a short stint with the Chiefs, but, that was an emergency pickup late in the season. With OTAs and coming to training camp, he might fit well in September.

    • ladner morse

      I barely hinted at what Kyle Love’s presence would mean to Dontari Poe… “If the Chiefs rush Justin Houston and Tamba Hali off the edges and a rested Dontari Poe and….”

      Lyle Graversen also mentioned that Jermelle Cudjo could be that guy as well. Either way… if the Chiefs find another DT they can trust to spell Poe now and then… Poe will be a Beast’s Beast in 14..

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I’m also excited about the maturation of Marcus Cooper. Not much has been said about him this offseason.

    • ladner morse

      Do I sense a “Special Feature” about to unfold?

      • Stacy D. Smith

        *Strokes beard*

  • CrispySBC

    R does the research and D does the development … R&D baby! I’m so excited about the Chief’s future. Our D has gotten a lot better and imo our O has gotten a lot better. Every place we look we’ve gotten bigger and faster. I’m predicting our D is in the Top 5 D’s in the NFL. Bob Sutton hasn’t gotten his secondary, with guys who can cover and tackle, in place and has added more weapons in the rush game. How can you not be excited when you’ve added a guy who is going to give Clowney a run for his money as rookie D player of the year. I think Dorsey is trying to work-out a contract, with AS, that allows the team to sign talented players in all positions. In other words, a contract that makes sense for the Team. Instead of a ridiculous contract, that hamstrings the team, ala Jay Cutler.

    • Troy Utt

      I agree with you completely! At the time the Chiefs were losing / not re-signing players in FA’cy, by most fans you’d think the sky was falling! Now that everyone has stepped back & waited for the picture to unfold we find that it was indeed addition by subtraction, getting more for less, and sticking to the draft board. Without a doubt Dorsey has a plan & we have just begun to see it unfold…
      As Laddie has pointed out it would appear as though R&D have effectively improved the defense, filling / replacing each roster spot with what appears at this point to be an upgrade. And it was done without restructuring any contracts or stealing from future years…
      We knew going in the offense was going to take a bit longer to come around & we saw that by the second half of last season. The prospect of a healthy TE Corp is what has me excited this year!
      I must also say I agree with you on the status of Alex Smith… The man has been the consumate pro thru-out his career, and indeed he is going to want a fair contract but I believe he also wants what is best for the team. Alex Smith is a smart man & he understands what good is it to have the keys to the car if you can’t drive it???

      • Chuck Burrell

        You, sir, make sense

        • Troy Utt

          Thank You Sir I try… Some topics make more sense than others.
          Then again we sometimes make more sense to some than to others… I have to admit there are a couple on here that no matter what the topic, I just can’t follow!

      • ladner morse

        Yes… and the fact that Kaepernick gave AS credit today for being where he’s at… says so much about the Chiefs incumbent QB.

    • Bdiddy

      Funny… I would have said D does the research and R does the development.

      Whatever…I don’t care who does what as long as they continue to rock it!

      • ladner morse

        Yes… but the heart and spirit of what Crispy said is right on.

  • Blaize Richardson

    This is a make or break year for Sutton in my opinion. If he doesn’t utilise his new toys well and doesn’t have success, I think we send him packing. I think he’s going to rise to the occasion though, shore up some of the mistakes he made last season and field one of the best defenses in the NFL. This upcoming season has me really excited.

    • ladner morse

      Tamba or DJ has already mentioned walking through the new schemes that Sutton is installing… so yes… it’s going to be more exciting than a wedding night with Kim K.

  • Roger Mihalko

    great article….is that a confirmed thing berry to FS ? is it rotation or majority snaps? that would be a major shift for sure, his talents are a little stretched for that but I’m game.

    My concern is still at ILB……Joe Mays is ok, but he just doesn’t give me the overall warm fuzzy. DJ is a lock on his side, we just don’t have that lock along side him, nor do we have that confident depth, where(god forbid) DJ gets hurt, and next man up there isn’t a massive drop off in talent or play. I’m looking at the base 3-4…..who is your 3 down base formation, every down capable ILB next to DJ? Who is the backup? we have more johnsons than I can remember names….and then a handful of others. hopefully nico can breakout…and others to get that going.

    The DB carousel should be interesting……..I still think they should talk to vernon kearney and ask if he wants to try Wideout as well…..with so much competition at DB….He could show skill above most of the receivers we have…he is 6.2 185 4.4 speed…….just a thought.

    tons of DE’s, DT’s ….will be interesting competition to follow.

    • Auburn78

      How many teams have 3 pro bowl linebackers? Mays doesn’t have to be a pro bowl talent for the Chiefs to field a nasty lb core. I think he will do just fine.

      • ladner morse

        My take exactly.

        May will have “Ah-MAYS-zing” moments!

  • GDL40

    My question is the following : do we have any idea, anything anyone has noticed in OTA’s that will give us an idea of what kind of defense Sutton will run ? I’m referring to aggressive or conservative secondary…. First part of the season bump and run or second part of season CB’s giving WR’s a cushion ?
    I believe that’s really what’s going to determine our success on D….. If we play the style like the first part of last season, i think we will scare any offense. GO CHIEFS !

  • Jason Mauzey

    Lot of naysayers out there, but I have extremely high hopes for the Chiefs D this year!
    Are we SB bound? Time will tell….. tough schedule. …. but I think we will demolish San Diego and Oakland for sure. Denver we are coming for you.

    • ladner morse

      For the first time in decades… it looks like the Chiefs actually have more than enough on defense to be a Super Bowl caliber team.

  • CaliChief83

    Anybody remember that hit that Mays put on Shaub? I think this D is going to be nasty. Can’t wait to see them play.

  • Andy

    I wouldn’t put to much stock in Abdullah and Berry switching around this early in the of season. I believe the same is going on with the OL. Interchanging parts to see what works best.

  • tmahawk

    Think we’re better this yr all the way around. Everyone should watch out for the chiefs.

  • tmahawk

    I love it. Think everyone better watch out. Even the donkies.
    I see us better on OFF DEF,& ST.
    Think we’re a contender for the SB.

  • tmahawk

    Get Tamba to reconstruct, cut Flowers, sign Houston & think this team is scrary for the next 4 to 5 yrs.

    • tmahawk

      Maybe I’m to hard on Flowers. He’s been a good player for us. But that said he doesn’t even want to make things work. There’s to many players like that. Its one thing I dislike about players nowadays.

      • ladner morse

        Not sure why you’re saying this… “he doesn’t even want to make things work.”… can you site some source for that idea???

        • tmahawk

          He doesn’t want to show up for OTAs
          He’s way over paid. We need more cap space for Houston& Smith.” He doesn’t
          Wanna make things work” thought it was clear.

          • ladner morse

            Take a look at Flowers twitter page an let me know what he’s ever said or done that makes you think he doesn’t want to make things work.

          • tmahawk

            Don’t k ow what your fixation is with this. His twitter page doesn’t prove a thing.

          • ladner morse

            Seems more like your fixation. Not mine. I’m just asking you to back up your assumption and opinion.

          • tmahawk


          • berttheclock

            The operative word is “Voluntary” for OTAs. Voluntary. There are several players for other teams who are not attending their respective OTAs. It is voluntary. Means absolutely nothing when a player does not attend.

          • tmahawk

            Get a life. & its obvious whahes doing
            Grammer boy.

  • Ramil Ramirez

    If the CHIEFS play like they did on the wild card game. ( minus the crumbling defense) our team WILL be back in the post season and make the run for the super bowl. I like what they have done in the off season.

    CHIEFS fan in San Diego.

  • htmn74

    I’m kissing the Chiefs new look defense because I love the Chiefs.

    • ladner morse

      Is that a first kiss… or an open mouth kiss… a kiss on the cheek… a long kiss goodnight… or maybe a french kiss… or how about, you may now kiss the bride kiss? I mean really… there are so many different types of kisses. Don’t leave us hangin here.

      • htmn74

        The first kiss was my 1st game (1988 Cle); May now kiss the bride when I got season tickets the next year; the next 6 yrs were full of open mouth french kisses; a long kiss goodnight after I gave up the season tickets after the 1996 season (still loyal to the death) So… there :-)

        • ladner morse

          Everyone should have such a wonderful Chiefs Kisstory.

          Thanks for sharing… awesomely creative!

  • sidibeke

    I’m more excited to see Ford, Hali and Houston on the field together than I would have been to see whatever 1st rnd WR we could have opposite Bowe. If the D can consistently get pressure and the O at worst stays where it was at the end of the season, the Chiefs will be a tough out.

    • ladner morse

      Me too!
      I see the Chiefs being able to put the squeeze on others offenses to the point that is will be interesting to see how teams adapt and plan for all the pressure and all the coverage the Chiefs place on them. That should limit what a team can do against the Chiefs and take many of their options away. 7 weeks and it all gets rolling.

  • michael mckee

    Slap….ford is an injury prone,gimpy kneed backup 3rd rd talent,sutton is STILL D coordinator,and gaines doesn’t fit our scheme at mad and block me if you want,it wont prevent the 4-12 season to come..still love my chiefs tho.

  • michael mckee

    I call reid and dorsey dumb&dumber….dorsey was ted thompsons sandwich cutter in gb.