May 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) and linebacker Josh Mauga (90) perform drills during organized team activities at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Chiefs had a solid defense in 2014. Although injuries contributed to the performance, the strengths and weaknesses of that team were clear. Stopping the run was a major problem, but free agency and the draft have not done much to address the run defense. It is still my primary concern on that side of the ball so let’s take a look at the run defense for 2015.
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As preparations for the 2015 season begin, the rushing defense still has question marks. Both Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson returned to the field for OTAs. But can they both stay healthy? If not, can their backups perform better this season than last? DeVito, in particular, has a solid and reliable backup in Jaye Howard. The defensive tackle position is also bolstered by the return of Mike Catapano and newly-drafted Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Catapano’s return from injury is a story to watch and could strengthen the defensive line depth dramatically.
Johnson saw his backup forced to play in 2014. Inside linebacker Josh Mauga had a career-year, recording 103 tackles while playing for Johnson. While Mauga is solid in coverage and is an above-average athlete for the position, he proved to be a severe liability against the run. Even with Johnson’s return, Mauga is the front-runner to start at the other inside linebacker spot and that is a concern.
Reviewing the All-22 film from two AFC West games against Denver and Oakland tells the tale. I would say “go back and watch for yourself”, but I don’t want to ruin your Sunday. So, below are my takeaways. Simply put, Mauga leaves a lot to be desired when defending the run.
Next: What does the film tell us?