The Kansas City Chiefs New Look Defense


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?