Defense wins championships. Next to “It’s not the X’s and O’x, it’s the Jimmy’s and Joe’s”, that is my favorite football cliché. Football is a gritty game that has evolved from being just a contact sport into being a collision sport. Even with all the new rules in place implemented for player safety, football is still a violent game and that is most seen on the defensive side of the ball. While quarterbacks put up big numbers and corners are barely allowed to breathe on receivers, defense is still nearly 50% of the game.
Although most teams in the NFL are now trending towards that big time gunslinger quarterback who throws 40+ times a game, teams are figuring out how to combat it. While those quarterbacks had an incredible run of eye dropping years, placing multiple quarterbacks in the span of a few seasons somewhere high up on the list of most passing yards in a season, their effect is becoming somewhat diminished. Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense was incredible to watch for 14 weeks of the regular season, with their multitude of illegal pick routes, but it still wasn’t enough to allow for him to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
In fact, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks did not have the high-powered offense that seems to be rampaging the NFL. The Seahawks scored 417 points last year: 13 LESS than our own Kansas City Chiefs. Let that sink in. With all of our offense woes and the complaints throughout the season of “no deep ball”, we still scored more points than the Super Bowl champs.
While both the Chiefs and Seahawks didn’t put up astronomical numbers in the regular season, they fared just fine come playoff time. Apparently the Chiefs played in the Wild Card round and scored 44 points (I say apparently because I honestly can’t remember that game that people have mentioned. It must have been bad, because I have a huge mental block on it in my head). And you all know the Seahawks trounced the donkeys 43-8. And while not all of the Seahawks points came off of offense, their offense was still dominant in that game.
Again, yet another similarity between the two teams is their offensive focal point. While Russell Wilson is developing into a great quarterback, it’s hard to argue that Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch isn’t their centerpiece for the offense at the moment. Racking up over 1500 total yards last year along with 14 touchdowns, Lynch proved to be a consistent option to continue to ease Wilson into a larger role. Hmm, a back who catches passes out of the backfield and is a solid runner, who the team uses as the focus of their offense. Don’t know where I’ve seen that, but dog gone it, it seems awful familiar.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying the Chiefs are at the level of the Seahawks yet. The Seahawks roster is incredibly stout on both sides of the ball. Their entire defense is ferocious, and some of their offensive weapons fly slightly under the radar, such as Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. On top of that, their team is mostly young, and still has room to grow.
However, I am saying that the Seahawks are an excellent model for what the Chiefs need to do to win a playoff game, and ultimately a championship. And I feel as if we are on the right track to do something like that. If you’ve followed us here at Arrowhead Addict at all the past few weeks, there have been some incredible articles about the offense. Basically, our tight end situation seems, at this point, to be fairly solid and will provide Alex Smith with more options over the middle. At receiver, all hope isn’t lost with Jenkins and Hemingway, as they are both young and either could develop into another good receiving option. And of course, everyone loves talking about De’Anthony Thomas, the speedster who has a chance to make a huge impact both on special teams and at receiver for us. If you haven’t been up to date with the site this past month or so, I strongly recommend you scroll through and give some of these articles a look through.
Offensively, we have the tools to be successful. Will the 2014-2015 Chiefs rewrite the record books? Most likely not. The team isn’t built for that, and that’s not have Reid’s philosophy works. I do think the offense will be more than good enough to put us in position to win games. All that relies on after that is the most important factor for this team, the defense.
In that dreadful playoff game, we had a 38-10 lead. I’ll do the math for you, that is a 28 point lead. 4 touchdowns along with the extra points. And yet we blew it. I’m not going to go into the why, except to state the obvious: That is on the defense. Sure, the offense could have put up a few more points here and there, but a 28 point lead? I mean come on, that’s something you should be able to hold onto, and we flat-out couldn’t.
While I am still bitter about that, this article is about how our defense can take us to the next level, and I firmly believe that. While we aren’t as deep as Seattle is, the Chiefs do have a number of solid players all throughout the defense. The secondary was a concern last year that has carried over to this year, but for now let’s say that they perform at an adequate level. Our linebackers have improved with the addition of Dee Ford, and the defensive line is once again solid, and was even upgraded some in free agency. The pieces are all there for our defense to hold strong against the new age offensive assault of the NFL.
While the Seahawks’ secondary was incredible with the combination of Sherman, Browner, Thomas, and Chancellor, the Chiefs’ aren’t there at the moment, and are going to have to rely on something else to disrupt passing games. What better way to do that than to make sure the quarterback doesn’t have time to pass? With Dee Ford now in the mix, we have two proven pass rushers to get after the quarterback, along with a third one to learn and grow while getting his chance to shine in certain situations. Sutton was praised early on in his time here for the variety of ways he got after the quarterback, and I look for that to continue with this group of pass rushers.
All in all, as much fun as it is to speculate on the future of Alex Smith and how DAT will fit into the offense, those aren’t the most urgent factors for the success of this team. We need to improve our defense in some way, shape, or form if we want to compete. Our offense has shown that they can handle themselves in the big game, and our defense needs to do the same.