Chiefs Defense: Elite or Not?


Oct 7, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after sacking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Baltimore won the game 9-6. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense was, statistically speaking, one of the worst in the league. Over 16 games, they were ranked as follows:

Points per Game: 25th – 26.6 PPG

Yards per Game: 20th – 356.5 YPG

Passing Yards per Game: 21st – 220.8 YPG

Interceptions: 31T – 7

Sacks: 29th – 27

Rushing Yards per Game: 27th – 135.7 YPG

Those stats are terrible. Absolutely abysmal.


On paper, the Chiefs should have had a good defense. They played a base 3-4 and all three down linemen were first round draft picks. Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe were all chosen in the first round to stop the run. But they didn’t.

The Chiefs have, potentially, the best pass-rushing duo in the league with linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Yet, with that talent level, they couldn’t even get to the opposing quarterbacks more than 27 times all season?

Middle linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety, Eric Berry, are pro-bowlers. They are also first round draft picks who were brought in to stuff the run. Yet the team allowed nearly 136 yards per game on the ground.

And how about the pass? Brandon Flowers is considered an elite cornerback by many in the league. Again, Eric Berry is quickly becoming a household name akin to Reed and Polimalu. How is 221 yards per game and 51 pass plays for more than 20 yards okay?

But the biggest question is: what changed? How is this year’s defense so much different from the squad that took the field last year?

Most of the names are the same, the base defense is the same, but the attitude is different.

Defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, has instituted an “attacking style 3-4.” Instead of using guys like Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson to absorb blocks, he’s sending these mountains of men after the quarterback.

Mike Devito was signed in free agency to replace the departing Glenn Dorsey. Both men have similar builds, similar play styles and similar career stats. But in case you missed it, Mike Devito had a stop against the San Francisco 49ers rush last week, where he grabbed RB Lemichael James’ jersey with one hand and pulled him to the ground at the line of scrimmage. One handed. When James was running. Devito just looked down at him as if to say: “you ain’t getting by me, dude.”

Dorsey never did that.

Last season, former Oakland Raider, Stanford Routt was brought to Kansas City in free agency to replace the “other” Brandon (Carr.) He was continually burned deep and was dropped from the team like a bad habit when things really started to go south last year. From that point on, former head coach, Romeo Crennel, never really found an answer to put opposite of Flowers.

It took Andy Reid and general manager, John Dorsey the first week of free agency to get what they were looking for. Six foot, three inch, former Miami Dolphins corner back Shaun Smith was brought in to be the answer for the Calvin Johnsons of the league. Thus far, he’s shown why he was brought in and is earning his keep, as he’s already hauled in one INT and has several passes defended.

Routt wasn’t even close to that.

Every Chiefs fan knows the story of inside linebacker Jovan Belcher. He wasn’t that good of a football player before he killed his girlfriend and then himself, and now that’s all he’ll be remembered for. Aside from the families that were shattered on that day, a hole was left in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense. Reid and Dorsey have done their best to plug that hole with former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan and rookie Nico Johnson. Both players have had flashes so far in the preseason and the position has improved dramatically from last season.

But, Addicts, we all thought the Chiefs were going to have a top 5 defense last season. To quote the famous lyrics by The Who: “I Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Still, I ask you: what’s different?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It seems that was the mantra of the Chiefs defense last season.

“Bend, don’t break” was the battle cry.

This year, at least thus far, break the other team as often as they can seems to be the direction they’re headed. Let’s see how that translates to the field.

Enjoy your weekend, Addicts!