There’s a hole in the Chiefs defensive bucket, dear Liza. And this year, more than recent years, that could be a significant problem.
Teams in the AFC West will be more focused on their run games in 2016, especially if its a glaring weakness for the Kansas City defense. Both Oakland and Denver hope and plan on running the ball better and more Often. For Denver, it may the focus of the offense due to the quarterback situation they face.
Derrick Johnson is an elite Pro Bowl linebacker, but he can’t man the middle alone.
Two weeks into the experiment at inside linebacker, the spot next to Derrick Johnson is a clear target to be exploited. Several young players have had significant chances to bolster that ILB spot, in wake of Josh Mauga’s injury, but have been unsuccessful. The team has to hope one of them puts it all together in the remaining eight quarters of this preseason.
We’ll take a look at the film below. We went in depth on the topic today on the Locked on Chiefs podcast as well. Here’s the show:
Is there a Mike ILB on this Chiefs roster?
This is the big question. Derrick Johnson plays most like the classic WIL in the 3-4 base defense. He uses his athleticism to run the field and make plays. Johnson is particularly adept at slicing and slipping past blocks to make plays in the run game.
The linebacker opposite him, in a traditional Mike role, generally needs to be able to take on blocks and allow the Will to make the play as we see here: Thomas Davis Takes on block, Luke Kuechly makes play
In modern hybrid-front defenses, the traditional roles can be blurred by lining up multiple linebackers who bring aspects of both traditional roles; attacking as well as taking on blocks. Seattle’s duo of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are the prime example of all-around linebackers: Flow, engage, shed and tackle
None of the Chiefs young inside linebackers offers the team a complete solution. The two prime options to fill in for or replacing Mauga, Ramik Wilson and Justin March, play with good athleticism with speed.
Unfortunately, neither has been able to master confrontations with blockers at the line of scrimmage. Both have made plays, but have struggled against starting-caliber offensive linemen.
For those of you who may feel the team just needs Josh Mauga to return, that is not the answer either. Here is a familiar look at Mauga from 2015 against the Raiders.
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