Charles Omenihu provides exciting boost to KC Chiefs pass rush

An already tough defense will add an exciting piece to the pass rush heading into Week 7.
Aug 26, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Charles Omenihu (90)
Aug 26, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Charles Omenihu (90) / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs pass rush has been able to get by without their top free-agent acquisition along the defensive line through the first several weeks of the 2023 NFL season. Defensive end Charles Omenihu, who has remained out while serving a suspension, was expected to be a big part of the pass rush this season but Kansas City was forced to figure things out without him and play some of their younger pass rushers.

So far, the Chiefs' pass rush, which has experienced stints without both Chris Jones and Omenihu this year, has done about as well as you could expect. As things stand, the Chiefs are currently averaging 2.6 sacks per game which is good for 19th in the NFL.

The pass rush looked great through the first few weeks but has since cooled off over the past few games versus the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. We know that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likes to dial up blitzes and move guys around the line, getting creative with generating pressure. Yet, the front four is still experiencing some struggles when they're asked to get the pressure on their own.

An already tough Chiefs defense will add an exciting piece to the pass rush heading into Week 7.

Luckily, the Chiefs will be benefitting from the timely return of Omenihu. Kansas City has been having to play guys way down the depth chart due to Omenihu being out and it's led to a little bit of an up-and-down start to the year. Not only has the defensive end room missed Omenihu's presence, but the team was also planning for him to play a lot of inside reps next to Jones on passing downs to maximize his ability to get pressure.

There has been plenty to like about the development of George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, and even Mike Danna who has really become a mainstay on the Chiefs defensive line. However, there's still a lot left to be desired from the edge for the Chiefs pass rush. Seth Walder of ESPN, who tracks pass rush win rate for defensive linemen, recently put out his first edition of this season, showing where current Chiefs edge players stack up.

As you can see, Danna isn't winning at a high enough rate to satisfy anyone. Karlaftis is in a similar boat. Essentially, this means that players like Karlaftis and Danna aren't getting to the quarterback that often based on the amount of snaps they play. On the plays in which they do get to the quarterback, it's typically after four seconds or just late in the play. One bright spot is that Danna is drawing a lot of double teams, according to the chart. Nonetheless, it feels like the pass rush could use Omenihu back who can take advantage of one-on-ones and draw attention himself.

The pass rush hasn't been bad, but it definitely feels like it could go up a level. For the longest time, this pass rush has kind of gone as Chris Jones does. If Jones wasn't dominating, then there hasn't really been much from anyone else. It usually was on Jones to open things up for other players. As of recently, it seems they're really starting to add players who can get after the quarterback themselves, make life easier for Jones, and make the unit overall better.

Omenihu is the epitome of that. Omenihu was among the top of the NFL last season in pressure rate and that was with splitting a lot of snaps inside with the San Francisco 49ers. Omenihu is versatile and efficient due to his lightning-quick first step. Additionally, Omenihu recorded 4.5 sacks, 20 combined tackles, 3 TFL, 1 FF, and 16 QB hits last year for San Francisco 49ers team that appeared in the 2022 NFC Championship game.

When Omenihu was initially suspended for six games before the start of the 2023 season, many felt it was going to be a tough time without him. The Chiefs have survived without him and looking back, that time flew by and now Kansas City is about to add a significant piece to their defensive line that they otherwise may have needed to acquire from outside the organization. Omenihu is the exact type of veteran player who can generate pressure without the help of others that the Chiefs need on their defensive line and now he is returning at the perfect time.