The Kansas City Chiefs will be much better in coverage in 2019
After struggling in coverage last season many Kansas City Chiefs fans are worried about the coverage again in 2019, but they’re poised to be much improved.
The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t very good in pass coverage last season. I don’t think you’d find many (if any) Chiefs fans that would argue that fact. The Chiefs gave up the second most passing yards in the NFL last season at the rate of 273.4 yards per game and also allowed 30 passing touchdowns on the season.
While the run defense wasn’t very good either, most Chiefs fans feel better about the run defense heading into 2019 because of a rebuilt defensive front as part of the switch to new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense. However, many Chiefs fans are still very concerned about the pass coverage, in large part because the Chiefs haven’t made significant upgrades to the cornerback position.
I’m not here today to try and convince you that the Chiefs cornerback play is going to be significantly better in 2019. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be much better in order for the Chiefs all around pass coverage to be improved. Simply put, the cornerback play was far from the biggest problem the Chiefs had in coverage last season. I know we all have visions of Orlando Scandrick and Steven Nelson giving up big plays running through our heads and, to be fair, they did give up some bad plays here and there. However, the overall coverage by K.C.’s corners throughout the season was much more average than it was awful. The same can’t be said for safeties and linebackers.
I went back and crunched the Pro Football Focus numbers of the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers that had the most coverage snaps for the Chiefs last season and averaged up the coverage grades for those position groups. Here’s what I found.
Steven Nelson: 837 coverage snaps, 71.2 coverage grade
Orlando Scandrick: 796 coverage snaps, 70.2 coverage grade
Kendall Fuller: 777 coverage snaps, 70.8 coverage grade
Charvarius Ward: 154 coverage snaps, 65.5 coverage grade
Cornerbacks’ combined coverage grade: 70.4
Ron Parker: 682 coverage snaps, 62.7 coverage grade
Eric Murray: 517 coverage snaps, 66.9 coverage grade
Daniel Sorensen: 280 coverage snaps, 64.9 coverage grade
Jordan Lucas: 228 coverage snaps, 61.7 coverage grade
Safeties’ combined coverage grade: 64.2
Anthony Hitchens: 591 coverage snaps, 51.0 coverage grade
Reggie Ragland: 285 coverage snaps, 57.7 coverage grade
Dorian O’Daniel: 232 coverage snaps, 65.2 coverage grade
Linebackers’ combined coverage grade: 55.7
To summarize those numbers, the cornerback coverage was average, the safety coverage was bad, and the linebacker coverage was awful. I wanted to back those numbers up even more and Sam at @PFF_Chiefs (go give him a follow if for some reason you aren’t already) was able to hook me up with the opposing quarterbacks QB Rating when targeting each of those position groups last season.
Those numbers and more are on the next page.