The Pass Rush
As soon as the draft and free agency was over, there was a lot of concern about the Chiefs pass rush, especially off the edge. The Chiefs edge rush just hasn’t been good enough in the Steve Spagnuolo era and they didn’t add anyone to boost that production. The plan was to just move Chris Jones to defensive end. That made most of us go “but he’s already the only good pass rusher we have?”. Many, myself included, were telling anyone that would listen that they needed to sign more pass rush help.
Then the preseason came and we all convinced ourselves that they might be fine because of the emergence of Tershawn Wharton and the signing of Jarran Reed. Those two would apply pressure up the middle and they could move Jones all over the defensive front and they’d be fine. The problem is that against the Browns, it was still just Chris Jones. Jones had two sacks, but the rest of the time Baker Mayfield had enough time to make plays from the pocket.
Yes, the Chiefs didn’t have Frank Clark, but let’s be honest, Clark hasn’t put enough pressure on the quarterback, at least not at the level he is being paid to. In today’s pass-happy NFL, you have to have defensive ends who can get pressure off the edge. The Chiefs simply don’t have enough pass rush at the defensive end position right now and they cut the one guy (Tim Ward) who looked like a promising rusher there.
The Browns offensive line is really good, but if they can’t get pass rush outside of Chris Jones, they are going to be susceptible to great passing offenses in the playoffs. The other problem is that those dominant defensive tackles that we saw all preseason not only didn’t generate much pass rush pressure, but they didn’t dominate up front in the run game either. The defense came up with some big plays when it mattered in the fourth quarter, but the bottom line is that the defensive front (not named Chris Jones) needs to be better. Period.
So what about the cornerbacks?