After three preseason games, the Kansas City Chiefs defense seems better than anyone thought it would be this season.
The NFL preseason should not get anyone too excited for anything. Most of the biggest names are sitting out or playing such limited reps that their impact on the game is barely felt. When first-team players are on the field, they certainly are not going full speed yet, and are doing their best to stay injury free. The stadiums are not at total capacity either, making the crowd noise a fraction of a factor of what will come during the regular season.
However, that cynicism should not keep the Kansas City Chiefs first-team defense from getting the praise it deserves.
The Chiefs’ starters managed to keep opposing offenses, including the Carson Wentz-led Washington Commanders, the Justin Fields-led Chicago Bears, and the Jordan Love-led (Aaron Rodgers, AJ Dillon, and Aaron Jones sat for this game) Green Bay Packers not only out of the end zone but out of field-goal range.
Plus, the Chiefs’ were statistically impressive across the board during the preseason. George Karlaftis tallied two sacks in the preseason, despite the limited snap count, and the Chiefs as a whole grabbed 11 sacks through three games. In total, the Chiefs only allowed a first down on 12 of the 39 third-down reps they saw. The opposing passer rating was abysmal against the Chiefs, with Love clocking in at 61.0, Wentz hitting the highest at 87.3, and Fields hitting the middle with 78.3.
During the 2021 regular season, Kansas City was giving up 5.9 yards per play, tying them for the second-highest yards-per-play allowed in the league. They allowed the sixth-highest passing yards total and the sixth-highest total yards allowed. They gave up the second-highest yards per run at 4.8, allowed the highest total yards after the catch, and had the fourth fewest sack totals in the league (despite blitzing the eighth most in the league).
The Chiefs did not have a terrible defense in 2021, actually giving up the eighth fewest points in the league, but ranking so low in almost every single other category is not something that can be allowed to happen again in 2022. If the Chiefs’ defense can maintain the momentum they have shown in the preseason, the Chiefs will improve upon their 2021 season, and possibly gain some respect the unit has lost over the last couple of seasons.