A complete guide to fixing the Kansas City Chiefs run defense

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson /
2 of 5

The defensive scheme does not help stop the run

The Chiefs defense is built to primarily stop the big passing plays. Most of the time the Chiefs defense is lining up in nickel and dime sets which means five or six defensive backs. While it can be frustrating at times when you see running backs such as Pittsburgh Steelers LeVeon Bell run all over the defense, it can still be a successful overall scheme.

Now I know what you’re thinking as you roll your eyes, but take a look at games where we focused on the run opposed to games we focus on stopping the pass. The game against the Oakland Raiders in week 7, the Chiefs defense focused on stopping the run. When the Chiefs played to stop the run primarily they gave up 31 points. Then look at the last two times we have played the Steelers and while Bell ran all over us both times, the Chiefs gave up less than 20 points in both of the last two matchups.

While I think it is better to play the big passing plays and do everything in your power to limit the big plays while giving up smaller ones, I still feel there has to be something you can do to see some improvement from what we have seen so far. It is difficult to do so when offenses are becoming more and more pass aggressive offenses as each year passes. This also means that offenses are spreading out 3 or 4 receivers to spread out the defense.

This makes it very difficult to bring in guys to stop the run. The most common thought when stopping the run is bringing the seventh guy down into the box to help. When offenses are bringing out 3 receivers and a tight end, you have more defensive backs on the field. Defensive backs are not what you want on the field if you are trying to stop the run.

Another reason this scheme doesn’t help the run game is most plays you only have two down linemen. Defensive linemen are your main defense against the run and when there are only two of them on the field you often see both of those players get double teamed. That means that even if you bring another safety down into the box, having another safety is not going to be as effective at shutting down run lanes as a 300-pound lineman.

Another thing to note is that when the Chiefs are in these two down linemen sets, they don’t usually have a single defensive tackle on the field. Now you have two defensive ends playing more defensive tackle style position and undersized outside linebackers playing as defensive end positions. This is a formation to attack the pass and not the run.

I fail to see why we don’t see more three down linemen sets which helps both the pass and the run. Especially when you are bringing down a safety to play as a second middle linebacker instead of just putting another linebacker on the field. Playing two down linemen makes it way too easy for the offensive line to get to the second point and push the linebackers out of the play.

Bringing a third lineman into the fold would also mean you have that defensive tackle that takes up a lot of double teams and you can allow your outside linebackers to actually play their position. When you want to stop the run, usually you want more power from that of a defensive tackle than speed from that of a defensive end.

This is a huge reason why the safeties hold the most tackles for the defense. Linebackers can’t plug or attack a gap if the offensive linemen are getting to them before the runner even chooses his direction.