Preseason Predictions: Defense


Last week we looked at five predictions for offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, based on what we’ve seen so far in the preseason. This week the focus is on the defensive side of the ball. We know the regular season can look drastically different than the preseason for a number of different reasons, but if the preseason is any indication, then there’s a good chance the following five will be true this year.

1. The Chiefs will blitz more than ever. This is probably the most obvious finding from the preseason, and it had to stand out like a sore mother-in-law to anyone who watched the exhibition games at all. The good news is that the Chiefs were able to get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks — even notched some sacks in the process. The bad new is that they did so with heavy blitzing. It did look like the Chiefs were able to apply some pressure with only three or four at times against Green Bay last week, but that was largely against the Packers back-up squad.

Against Philadelphia, the Eagle’s starters, including Kevin Kolb, had difficulty identifying and picking up the blitz. A few of the sacks for the Chiefs in that game looked like straight shots to the quarterback. That probably won’t happen week after week. Teams will be more prepared, now that they know the Chiefs may be blitz happy. From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Romeo Crennel will dial up the blitz often. It didn’t prove to be an effective strategy for Gunther Cunningham, but hopefully Crennel will turn be able to better disguise his blitzes. It’s good to see the emphasis on getting to the QB isn’t being overlooked, even if blitzing the hell out of things is the only answer. We don’t know if this will be a good, or bad thing this year, but it will happen a ton. I hope Crennel has roll over minutes with his blitz calling plan.

Predictions 2 thru 5 after the jump:

2. The Chiefs will continue to struggle against the run. We’re staying with the obvious here, but it may not have been so painfully obvious by the last game of the preseason. The Chiefs experienced some success stopping the run using different personnel packages. It’s difficult to know if the front seven can keep improving into the regular season without a true nose tackle. Ron Edwards plays hard, but to run a 3-4 scheme a team needs a monster NT, otherwise the Chiefs won’t break out of the NFL’s bottom third in this statististic. Apparently the Chiefs didn’t like what they have at that position because they let all them all go, save Edwards. It’s not that surprising that a player on practice squads the last two years was better back-up option than anything the Chiefs had on their roster. Although Green Bay and Miami might not have had much need at NT, it would be a long shot for an undrafted free agent making his first 53-man roster to end up becoming the answer for the Chiefs. It could happen, but it’s not likely.

3. Offensive Coordinators will throw at Brandon Carr. It might have just been my imagination, but it seemed like teams were throwing at Carr a bunch in the preseason. It could mean they are going to throw away from Brandon Flowers this year because he’s that much better. It’s too early to tell, but it may indicate OC’s are identifying Carr as their best shot downfield. Maybe they just wanted to test him a little more, since they know what Flowers can do. I’m not saying Carr is a weakness, but by the looks of things, he may have some opportunities this year if teams don’t want to test Flowers. If teams are thinking this way, I think Carr will make them pay, eventually.

4. The middle four will be improved. This isn’t exactly going out on a limb here, based on the sporadic play the Chiefs received from their linebackers last year, but they did have their moments in the preseason. The sacks highlighted those moments, but it looks like they are getting the job done in a better fashion than a year ago. These position battles have been fun to watch this year, and they aren’t necessarily over when the season starts. We might not know which four will be on the field at any given time, but the pieces are slowly coming together as the reps accumulate. They are reportedly benefiting from the defensive line eating up blockers, and the secondary appears to be giving them a couple extra seconds. Both the run support and QB pressure is improving. They should continue to gel as a unit.

5. Javier Arenas will make a big impact. How is it that everyone isn’t excited about this guy? Apparently there are those who haven’t seen enough of him yet to be convinced. Here’s what C. E. Wendler with Warpaint Illustrated had to say about in Arenas in a post last week. (I usually agree with this writer by the way.)

"Carl Peterson is no longer hanging around Arrowhead Stadium, which means second-round picks should be having a huge impact, even as rookies.Are (Dexter) McCluster and Arenas having a huge impact? Based on preseason, the answer is no. While they’ve both proven to be exciting, athletic players who can change a game on special teams, they have to be more.Arenas has to make an impact on defense. In a perfect world, he’d challenge for Brandon Carr’s starting job by season’s end. If he’s Allen Rossum, a great “cornerback” who has elite return skills but never plays defense, Pioli reached on the pick."

Wow! I couldn‘t disagree more with all of that. The Chiefs were burned for big plays often last year partly due to the drop off in talent after Flowers and Carr. Arenas will play on defense and he closes that gap. The nickel corner is becoming increasingly important in the NFL because of the number of WR’s on the field at the same time. If Arenas can become a solid to great nickel back, then he was certainly worth the pick. If he eventually bumps Carr down to that role, even better.

If he continues to pile up the return yardage like it appears he will, that’s a big bonus! Shortening the field changes games in the NFL. He’s going to take it to the house multiple times this year, and if it’s done at critical times, he could add multiple wins alone.