As we reach just over a quarter of the 2023 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs have become the dominant force in the AFC West and the AFC as well. Sunday's 31-17 win over the division rival Los Angels Chargers puts the Chiefs in front of the Raiders by three games and the Chargers by three and a half games.
In previous years, it has been the star power of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and the offense grabbing the headlines but up to this point in the 2023 season, the defense is the talk of the team. One such player is providing an unsung impact in 2023 and now with the injury news of Nick Bolton, linebacker Drue Tranquill's role will look to increase over the next two months.
Up to this point in 2023, Tranquil has logged 37 tackles and 2.5 sacks with one of those sacks coming against the Chargers during the fourth quarter of Sunday's victory. Bolton has already missed three games this season and Tranquill's sure tackling and ability to drop into coverage is proving to be a valuable signing from general manager Brett Veach. Tranquill possesses a unique ability to read plays and anticipate movements, which has allowed him to excel in various defensive roles.
Tranquill was already an asset for the Chiefs defense but he'll be more important than ever going forward.
In 2022, Tranquill posted career highs with 16 starts, 146 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks in his final year in Los Angeles. Thus far his versatility in both run defense and pass coverage has made him an invaluable asset to the Chiefs, especially in the absence of Bolton.
Replacing an injured player like Bolton can be an overwhelming task, but the former standout from the University of Notre Dame has embraced the challenge and quickly integrated himself into the Chiefs' defensive scheme and has demonstrated his ability to fill the void left by Bolton. injuries are a harsh reality that each team needs to prepare for.
No doubt missing Bolton will sting but Tranquill's emergence has shown that the Chiefs can adapt and continue to thrive. As the team navigates the challenges of the NFL season, they can take comfort in the fact that they have a dependable and dynamic player in Drue Tranquill who can fill a void and help them on their quest for back-to-back championships.