The Kansas City Chiefs separated themselves from their AFC West opponents with a win over the Los Angeles Chargers and a big performance from the Chiefs pass rush.
A lasagna-loving cartoon cat once said, “I’ve found that if you wait long enough, everything comes to you.” Well, Kansas City Chiefs fans have waited long enough for a competent pass rush. Their patience with defensive tackle Chris Jones and company will pay off in 2022, though. There is no better example of how underrated the Chiefs’ defensive front has been than Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chiefs’ pass rush, outside of Jones, has been viewed as below-average for most of the seasons. Fans cried for a splashy trade before the 2022 NFL trade deadline, namely for Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen. But Chiefs general manager Brett Veach did not pull the trade trigger and left the defensive front unchanged.
Veach’s faith and fans’ patience have paid off in recent weeks.
Entering the game, the Chargers’ young offensive line had surrendered only 13 sacks entering their Week 12 matchup against the Chiefs. Even without stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, it appears to be a strong unit. The Chiefs’ defense, on the other hand, came out on top, sacking Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert five times. Jones and defensive end Mike Danna recorded four of those sacks, with linebacker Willie Gay Jr. blitzing for the fifth.
Sunday’s win was a huge performance for the Chiefs’ defensive line, at least by their standards. This was their fourth game with five or more sacks, which is second in the NFL. The Chiefs now have 32 sacks in 2022, tied for fourth in the league, which is already more than their 2021 team sack total. Jones is having a career year, Danna is leaving his mark on the pass rush, and veteran Frank Clark is actually earning his keep this year. A lot of things are going right for this pass-rush unit.
That can be due to a multitude of things. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is generally considered a successful second-half coach, whether that is the second half of the season or any given game. The addition of defensive line coach Joe Cullen could be a big factor in the line’s improved play, or it could just be a hot streak from the unit. Whatever the case may be, the pass rush is performing at a superb level.