Nine things every fan should know about the Chiefs and Ravens
Spagnuolo faces the pressure
I think something that has been somewhat overlooked in this whole thing is that there is actually a ton of pressure on Steve Spagnuolo. Bob Sutton was the Chiefs defensive coordinator for six seasons and in those six seasons he actually produced some pretty stellar defenses. In 2014 and 2015 his defensive units finished second and third in points allowed, respectively.
That’s a far cry from where it ended. In 2018, the Chiefs defense finished 25th in points allowed. This was by far the worst season under Bob Sutton and it resulted in his termination along with the vast majority of the defensive coaching staff and several key veterans who had spent years with the team. It simply wasn’t good enough.
There’s an argument to be made that it wasn’t all Sutton’s fault. From 2016 on, Dontari Poe, who some would argue was the cornerstone of the defense with his run-stopping ability and unique interior pass rushing talent, declined considerably due to back injuries.
Justin Houston, another massive structural piece that accounted for a huge portion of the team’s pass rush for years, inked a new contract and then seemingly couldn’t stay healthy for the second half of his Chiefs career.
Eric Berry, an incredible All Pro talent and enforcer on the back end, heroically conquered cancer but couldn’t beat father time. He ultimately succumbed to injuries in 2017 and was never the same player.
This isn’t in defense of Bob Sutton. I think it was time for a fresh start. The talent on his defense deteriorated, but as the defensive coordinator for a Super Bowl caliber team, you have to make it work. Instead it was one of the worst defenses in recent memory.
My point is, the defense kept the Chiefs from the Super Bowl last season. Steve Spagnuolo and a host of coaching talent and player talent were brought in to fix the problem. So far, the defensive performance hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been great. There’s a lot of pressure on Spagnuolo to get this done. I’d argue he has the most pressure of anyone.
The Ravens are a legitimate title contender this season. I don’t think they will win it all, but they definitely can push the teams that will. They’re also probably the third best team in the AFC right now behind the Chiefs and the Patriots.
This will be Spagunuolo’s first shot at a playoff team from last year that looks even better this year. Will we see more creativity in the pass rush, in coverage, etc.? As the head man the pressure is squarely on his shoulders to make this defense competitive.