KC Chiefs are working hard to improve red zone woes

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 10: Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo of the Kansas City Chiefs talks to a player during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 10: Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo of the Kansas City Chiefs talks to a player during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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It seems weird that a team that won 14 regular season games, that captured the AFC’s only first-round bye, that hosted their third consecutive AFC Championship, and went all the way to a second consecutive Super Bowl could rank so poorly in such a key category. Just imagine if the K.C. Chiefs had been that much better.

In 2020, there were 31 teams who ranked better in red zone defense than the Chiefs. In fact, if the NFL were to have magically expanded to allow even more teams than that, even those imaginary teams likely would have fared better than the Chiefs last year. That includes the New York Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and even every AFC West team outside of K.C. Even typing that out sounds ridiculous.

Last season, the Chiefs allowed an opposing team to enter the red zone 47 total times during the regular season. That stat itself is good, since that’s less than 3 times per game. For their part, the Chiefs made it into the opposing red zone 59 times, a big swing. Unfortunately, the Chiefs defense allowed those same teams to score touchdowns on 36 of those occasions. That means that 76 percent of the time, opponents were not just going to score but they were going to score seven.

When speaking to reporters on Thursday, Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens stated that the red zone was a key focus early this year for the Chiefs as they prepare to attempt another championship run.

The K.C. Chiefs are hard at work on red zone issues from 2020.

“Our number one thing right now is that we fell short in the red zone last year. We were top 10 in the year we won the Super Bowl and then last year we were 32nd if I’m not mistaken. That’s the difference right there. You give three points up instead of seven, that’s a four point swing right there. There were times where teams would get in the red zone three times and score three touchdowns. That’s 21 points. We can easily cut that in half or less than half.”

Overall as a defense, the Chiefs were a top 10 unit, ranking No. 10 overall in points allowed with 22.6. The Chiefs have very good pieces on defense overall with Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu, L’Jarius Sneed and Hitchens leading their respective units. The team also added Nick Bolton to the linebacking corps via the draft this year to help bolster the heart of the defense.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, Hitchens stated that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo already has them working on this issue in early offseason practices.

“We’re just working on that right now,” said Hitchens. “We’ve had two red zone days back to back the first two days, right off the bat. So we’re working on that and that’s right at the front of our mind right now is red zone … A lot of teams would get down there and run the similar plays. We just need to be smarter. That’s the word. We saw the same plays from Week 1 through the Super Bowl. So we did our offseason homework. We’ve got some different things now and we’re gonna improve. That’s our main goal. If they get down there, hopefully they don’t, but if they do, give up three and not seven.”