The Kansas City Chiefs face their stiffest run defense test yet when they suit up against Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts.
It is no secret that, in previous seasons, the largest chink in the armor of the Kansas City Chiefs defense would be their run defense. Sometimes I have thought to myself that the opposing team’s quarterback could hand the ball off to my 3-year-old son, and he could run it for 20 yards before a Chiefs defender finally brought him down.
On Sunday, the Chiefs defense will face yet another test in the running game, with Colts hot shot running back Jonathan Taylor likely receiving the lion’s share of the carries, and pounding the rock up and down the field (or hopefully not).
Let us partake in an exercise to predict how the Chiefs defense might do against Taylor on Sunday by examining the Chiefs defense against the run so far this season, and also taking a look at how Taylor has done so far this season against the defenses he has faced.
Chiefs run defense through Week 2
While the sample size is somewhat small, due to the fact that only two games have been played this season, the Chiefs defense has already been tasked with clogging up the running game of two very talented backs: James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals and Austin Ekeler of the L.A. Chargers.
During their season opener against Arizona, the Chiefs utterly dominated every aspect of that game (including the running attack). That’s impressive considering it’s no easy task when the opposing offense features Conner at running back and my former Oklahoma Sooner Kyler Murray (who is like a hybrid quarterback/running back).
Murray was the leading rusher for the Cards that day, and as my father always says, “When your quarterback is your leading rusher, you’ve got a problem.” Murray hauled the rock 5 times for only 29 yards (which for Murray is a rather low number). He did manage to break one off for 21 yards, which was the longest run of the game on the Cards’ side, but had no rushing touchdowns and was kept pretty well contained—if not flat on his back—for most of the game.
Eno Benjamin had 4 rushes for 28 yards, James Conner had 10 rushes for only 26 yards, and bac up QB Trace McSorley had 3 rushes for 19 yards during garbage time long after the game had been decided. I went into this game, expecting that Murray would run rough shot over the Chiefs defense all afternoon, and that is not at all what happened.
The Cards offense only had 102 rushing yards total against the Chiefs D, and for a defense not known for its run coverage, I call that a roaring success.
Week 2 against the Chargers under the lights of Thursday night football, even in the friendly confines of Arrowhead stadium, would offer a new test for the Chiefs run defense, for Austin Eckler was coming to play, and he has given the Chiefs absolute fits in the past.
Also, the Bolts signed Soni Michel during the off season, and QB Justin Herbert has been known to break off a run or two when it suits him.
The Chargers work horse Austin Eckler, had 14 rushes, but was corralled for only 39 yards (just those numbers alone represent a markedly improved Chiefs run defense) for holding Austin Eckler to 39 yards on 14 carries is no easy task.
The Chargers late off season transaction of Soni Michel, only netted a mere 13 yards on 4 carries, and QB Justin Herbert (who is certainly a duel threat QB) had 2 rushes for 1 single yard (a yard is 3 feet, so he ran for 3 feet before he was promptly mauled by the Chiefs D).
Total, the Chargers wracked up a piddley 75 yards rushing against a stout Chiefs run defense.
The Chiefs will be tested yet again on Sunday, when they go up against Jonathan Taylor, so let’s take a look at his stats in his first two games.
Jonathan Taylor will prove to be the toughest test for the Chiefs new and improved run defense yet, and it will come during the suspension of Chiefs LB Willy Gaye JR.
During their season opener against the Texans, the Colts offense wracked up 177 rushing yards, and a whopping 161 of those yards were owed to Colts running back Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor had a rediculas 31 carries for a staggering 161 yards and 1 rushing touchdown.
However, during a humiliating 24-0 loss to the Jags last Sunday, the vaunted Colts running game would only rush for 54 yards, having said that, it is worth noting that all 54 of those yards belonged to Taylor on 9 carries.
So, in only 2 games, Taylor has already rushed for 200+ yards, so it is safe to say that one of the main jobs of the Chiefs D on Sunday, will be keeping Taylor Corralled.
The Chiefs were able to keep the likes of Kyler Murray, James Conner and Austin Ekeler in check during the first two weeks, so if they can hold Taylor to 50 yards or less, it will be a vast improvement for a much maligned Chiefs run defense.