Everyone wants to talk about defensive Frank Clark (and we will), but the bigger need for Kansas City is the pass rush from the other side of the line. Who can take advantage of the opportunity to cement themselves as the true starter at defensive end opposite 5-5?
There are roughly four answers here that make the most sense: Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Taco Charlton and rookie Mike Danna. Officially, Kpassagnon has started all 12 games for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, he has been a liability against the run at times, has just two tackles for loss, only one quarterback hit and most concerning of all, has registered only one sack. Combined, the news is just as bleak: the three Chiefs’ ends with the most snaps have accounted for 3.5 sacks this season. That is less than Frank Clark has alone, and Clark has not been very good as a pass rusher this season.
The most promising of this quartet of options has been Taco Charlton, without question. With the fewest games/snaps, he leads all four in sacks (2). Prior to his injury he played in seven games. While the sack total is not much, it is still third on the team, and he’s also registered four quarterback hits. If he is able to come back healthy for the stretch run, it would be a big boost for the team, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take over as the starter.
The big question for me has been what has happened to Alex Okafor? Prior to injury last year, Okafor registered 5 sacks in 10 games, 9 as the starter, for the Chiefs. That was good enough for fourth on the team—enough that Kansas City had to believe he’d win the starting job (again) in 2020. He did not, and he has failed to produce this season, playing in only seven games, registering only 11 tackles and one sack. This is not good news, and the Chiefs need him to regain some 2019 form down the stretch.