“Nothing lasts forever.” That’s what “they” usually say when a great experience comes to an end. It’s one of the more relatable phrases in the human vernacular as the majority of human beings can relate that phrase to a specific experience or experiences they’ve had throughout their life.
As Kansas City Chiefs fans we find ourselves in a unique situation. Merely four years into the Patrick Mahomes saga, there are those fans and bystanders alike already opining that the dominance we’ve seen in the prior three years is at an end. The league has caught up to the high-flying Chiefs and the offense will revert to the mean exposing a defense struggling to defend even the worst teams in the league.
Then there are the fans who believe Mahomes will overcome every obstacle put in his path. These fans believe the last few games are simply a bump in the road on the team’s way to another epic playoff run and Super Bowl appearance. Both eventualities have a decent probability of occurring.
The NFL is the pinnacle in professional sports. Practice and film actually matter in this league because the margin between winning and losing on any given day is mere inches. If the Chiefs aren’t careful, there are numerous teams with talent and growing machines of excellence that can knock them off their pedestal. Some might argue that’s already happened.
Still, the Chiefs have and will continue to have major talent at most of the pivotal positions in the NFL. Top-end talent is not a predictor of success, but it’s hard to win championships without it.
How should fans evaluate the teams biggest concerns through these two disparate points of view?
The Chiefs pass rush
Surprisingly, given they’ve expended exorbitant amounts of draft capital and cap space on the exterior of their current defensive line, the Kansas City Chiefs find themselves dead last in the NFL at an embarrassing 1.4 sacks per game.
I know the Chiefs have some salty personalities on the defense, and that’s something you usually need to have a good defense, but there’s no talking your way out of this statistic. At seven sacks through five games the Chiefs are on pace for a paltry 24 sacks this season. Based on the last five seasons, that puts them on pace to finish 30th in the league.
Sacks aren’t everything, given quarterback pressure comes in different ways, but they are a proxy for success. If a defense finishes close to last in sacks it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they’re pressuring opposing quarterbacks effectively.
Here’s the massive caveat though: it’s only week five in a sport where seemingly minor issues can create absolute havoc for a particular unit. It’s clear at this point in the season the Chiefs haven’t answered some major questions regarding their defensive line’s rotation.
Is Chris Jones a defensive end or a defensive tackle? The defensive coaching staff almost can’t answer any of the other questions along the defensive line till this one is answered.
Who deserves the majority of snaps on the interior if Jones continues to play outside? The addition of Jerran Reid hasn’t “wreaked havoc” like he and fans were expecting, leaving one to wonder who the starters and rotation on the interior should actually be.
These aren’t minor questions, and the only way to solve them is by playing through the regular season. Most successful teams with good leadership are able to solve problems like playing time, and the Chiefs should be no different.
At the end of the day, the Chiefs do in fact have talent along the defensive line. Add to that Steve Spagnuolo will undoubtedly become more creative with his stunts and blitzes (the only place to go from no creativity is up), and the Chiefs should take a step forward throughout the season.
Will they be a top-10 pass-rushing unit? Probably not, but will they venture into the realm of a competent unit that can support a struggling secondary? I think that’s a realistic probability.
On that note, let’s take a look at the Chiefs secondary.