Houston, we could have a problem – Chiefs pass rush

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Linebacker Dee Ford
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 13: Linebacker Dee Ford /

It is nearly game time. Welcome back to Chiefs Football.

The are still a couple of question marks as the Chiefs approach the first major milestone of the preseason. While things have been progressing at several positions on the offensive side of the the ball, one large defensive problem is still hanging over the 2016 Chiefs team.

Wednesday John Dorsey stated that Tamba Hali should be back in time for the season opener. The team needs him and if he is not 100% by week one, there is a very big question to answer.

How are they going to get to the passer without Tamba?

Chris and I talked it through on today’s episode of the new daily Chiefs podcast Locked on Chiefs. We hit on a couple of other defensive issues in the AFC West too. Here’s the show:

OLB Pressure

It has been a scarily quiet training camp for Dee Ford. At this point in the road to the regular season, you would have liked to see his name being thrown around a lot more. You want to hear about him getting the some wins in his battles with Mitchell Schwartz. You want him to hear reports of camp-sacks (would have been sacks). Unfortunately, that isn’t happening enough.

Currently in St. Joe, the team has veteran Frank Zombo starting at ROLB opposite Dee Ford. Zombi is a versatile linebacker that has come through for the team in the past. In spot duty, he was able to perform well down he stretch for the Chiefs.

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However, with playing more than spot duty comes risk. As a starter, opposing teams will have plenty of film to examine and neutralize Zombo. As a full time replacement, Zombo will not be able to produce pressure that the team so desperately needs in order to protect the young secondary behind him.

Dezman Moses and Andy Mulumba, journeymen and Green Bay cast offs, stand on the next rung of the depth chart. This preseason will be a valuable chance for one of them to step to the front and show something the team can use for the regular season. Mulumba has flashed some pass rush skill in camp and could be a player on the rise. He’s a player to watch on Saturday.

The Young Buck and Tamba Time

One rookie pass rusher has had his name come up in recent days. Dadi Nicolas has show some skills and aspect to his game that could push Dee Ford. He has multiple pass rush moves. A tall, lean rookie right now, Nicolas’ new best friend may be Strength and Conditioning coach Barry Rubin. He could be needed to use his moves to attack the opposing passers early this season if the team’s top pass rushers are unavailable.

That means Tamba Hali may, once again, be the lynchpin in this Chiefs defense. Coming off of yet another knee surgery, Hali is the type of veteran who will not be bothered by missing training camp. If he is on track to return for the season opener, this defense has a chance to continue its upward trajectory it began in 2015. If not, one of the above players has to step up to bookend Dee Ford or this defense could struggle mightily to bring the pressure. Let’s hope John Dorsey is right about Tamba Hali.

Enjoy the game, Addicts!