Chiefs failures: Looking at the defense

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Justin Houston has not been the dominant force that we expected…or paid for. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

This is where I’m really frustrated.  Whatever happened to that Justin Houston guy?  You know, the one we paid millions to?  Houston was supposed to be the basis of our pass rush this year, but he really hasn’t shown up since Denver.  And we’ve seen the results of that as the rest of the pass rush has also faltered.  He needs to pick it up and start becoming a force again.  That is the only way this defense will get back into its groove.

On the other side of the field, Tamba Hali is showing that he’s not the player he once was.  While Tamba is good for a spurt, he can’t keep it up for the whole 60 minutes like he used to.  Teams are taking advantage of this by also putting him into coverage situations that force him to run all across the field.  It wears him down and makes him less likely to be able to come up with a big play late.

The other pass rushing linebacker…ugh, Dee Ford is starting to look like a bust.  He has all the physical talent you could ask for, but he simply is not putting it together on the field.  That’s a major problem because the Chiefs need him to get out there and spell Hali.  Actually, I take that back, the Chiefs need him to go out there and claim that starting job as his own and start playing like the high draft pick we spent on him.

Derrick Johnson has made a surprising number of miscues this season. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Getting Derrick Johnson back was supposed to be a huge boost for our defense.  And, honestly, he has shown up at times this season.  But he has also been caught out of position a lot, and against Chicago he missed on several crucial plays that could have really stopped Chicago’s momentum.  He’s got to be better.  He is the captain of the defense, and the rest of the unit will take their lead from him…so he has got to be on the ball every week.

Another huge problem for the Chiefs linebacking corps has been the role players.  I never had high expectations for Josh Mauga this year, and he has answered that accordingly.  He still appears lost in this defense, often missing gap assignments or guessing the wrong direction.  And when he does get to the ball carrier, it is a rarity that he initiates the contact and forces the ball carrier to fall backwards.

Mauga is good for a decent number of tackles, it’s just that almost all of them will be of a poor quality.

Ramik Wilson filling in for Mauga has ups and downs.  The truth is that Wilson doesn’t belong in that role.  He is not a “stack and shed” inside linebacker.  Wilson’s game is much more in tune with that of Derrick Johnson’s.  In fact, in a couple of years, Wilson could be the ideal replacement for DJ.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us out at all with our current problem.

Next: Onto the secondary?