Dadi Nicolas, Tamba Hali gives Chiefs competition at pass rusher for first time in 2017

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: Demetrius Harris
SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: Demetrius Harris /
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SAN DIEGO, CA – JANUARY 01: Demetrius Harris
SAN DIEGO, CA – JANUARY 01: Demetrius Harris /

The Kansas City Chiefs have been rolling with the bare minimum, or even less, at pass rusher all season. Now they finally have some depth.

There are better days ahead for the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush. There simply have to be, even if we’re just leaning into the numbers.

It’s not that the Chiefs have encountered a worst-case scenario in terms of the defense’s ability to get after the quarterback this season. That’s not the case at all. Justin Houston is the centerpiece here and his health is the key to any best or worst case situation. So far, so good in 2017.

Outside of Houston, however, the Chiefs have seriously struggled to force passers to make many mistakes. Injuries have taken a toll. Undeveloped talent is another factor. The Chiefs have been perilously thin at pass rusher for nearly the entire season and it’s taken a toll as more and more players hit the injured list. It’s also exposed the secondary in ways that leaves Bob Sutton, the team’s defensive coordinator, scrambling to adjust.

Most importantly in the last few weeks has been Dee Ford’s unexpected back injury. He’s clearly hurting in a way that doesn’t allow him to do his job at all and it has ruined the Chiefs on one side. Coming into the season, the team had placed Tamba Hali on the Physically Unable to Play list, which forced them to basically move forward with Houston, Ford and little else. And for those wondering why Ford can’t just get a shot and move on, imagine the pain of trying to get out of bed when you’ve wrenched your back. Now imagine generating the proper bend while fighting with your hands and accelerating around an NFL tackle while experiencing the same pain. Yeah, that’s over.

If the Chiefs are able to get after the passer better in these next seven games, and there’s every reason to believe that will be the case, the amount of sacks and turnovers are likely to ratchet up a bit while also making everyone else on defense look that much better. And if the Chiefs defense starts to look hot, it could be the right time for both sides of the ball to start clicking.