Steve Spagnuolo proves his genius once again for the Kansas City Chiefs

The future Hall of Fame Defensive Coordinator proved his merit (again) in Super Bowl LVIII with perfectly timed calls to get into the 49ers' heads and move them off their game. Now, Steve Spagnuolo is in a realm of his own and he will forever be remembered as a Chiefs legend.

Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator for Kansas City, is now on a level all his own after a 4th Super Bowl Championship on the sidelines.
Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator for Kansas City, is now on a level all his own after a 4th Super Bowl Championship on the sidelines. / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

Super Bowl LVIII did not start great for the Kansas City Chiefs, with the offense only scoring three measly points in the entire first half. Luckily the Kansas City defense—a.k.a. the "Chiefense"—came to play like they have for the entirety of the 2023-24 postseason. This is largely in part due to the amazing schemes and play designs by Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, which allowed Kansas City to never fall too far behind and provided time for Patrick Mahomes to make magic like he has since he came into the NFL.

Spagnuolo, otherwise known as "Spags", now sits atop a very pristine and honorable list of coordinators with his 4th—count them, four—Super Bowl victory as a DC. This is more than any other offensive or defensive Coordinator has in NFL history, combining his three in Kansas City with the spectacular showing in 2007's Super Bowl XLII when he helped the New York Giants' defense contain the undefeated New England Patriots. That defense kept Tom Brady and company from the first perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Spags has only been in Kansas City for five seasons, bringing the Kansas City defense back from the dead (and a last-place ranking in nearly every statistic in 2018) to four Super Bowls. In those four Super Bowls, he faced the greatest QB of all time, Tom Brady, as well as an MVP finalist in Jalen Hurts—both of whom put up 30+ points—which ended in a 1-1 record while holding the San Francisco 49ers to 20 points and 22 points in their two championship victories.

This year, in particular, Spags put together such a strong defense that it even overshadowed the greatness that is Mahomes.

Spags knows when and how to blitz

Spags' Chiefense did not allow 28 points in any single game this season. That's two more than any other team in NFL history, including the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2010 Green Bay Packers—each of whom had 19 games without 28 points scored on them, and each of whom won the Super Bowl.

The adage of "Defense Wins Championships" has never been more true, showing why it's so important to draft young talent and develop it on the field while keeping the best players happy and incentivized as well. This all came to fruition in the past two years with draft picks like Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis and Chamarri Conner all showing up in the biggest game of the year. Not only them, Leo Chenal jumped up and made his presence known in the Super Bowl, doing so well that PFF graded him higher than any other player in the game:

Sunday's Super Bowl LVIII victory showed Spagnuolo's affinity for blitzing, doing so on 51.2% of Brock Purdy's dropbacks which is good for the 4th-highest rate for Kansas City under Spags. Purdy completed 12 of his 19 attempts (63.2%) against the blitz for 131 yards, a strong showing for sure, but Spags' blitzes were able to generate nine unblocked pressures—a season-high—that helped put the game away late, including in overtime (below).

Long story short, Spags is known for his blitz packages and he knows exactly when to send a DB or a full-on blitz and it was all on display this past Sunday against one of the most prolific offenses and talented depth charts in recent NFL history.

Spags punishes the NFL's best teams

The "Chiefense" under Spagnuolo had their uphill battles all year long. They looked up-and-down throughout some of the season, especially against the Packers and the Eagles, but throughout the playoffs, they had the toughest road they've ever had to battle. In fact, the 2023-24 Chiefs became just the first team in NFL history to defeat four of the top-six teams in regular season points per game (PPG) in a single postseason:

They handled the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round, holding the second-ranked offense (29.2 PPG) to just nine points. Then, they traveled to No. 2 ranked Buffalo and played their first real away game under Mahomes, keeping the sixth-best offense (26.5 PPG) to 24 points—the most of these four games. Afterward, another road game, this time at the #1 seed in the AFC in Baltimore (28.4 PPG), ended in just 10 points given up to the 2023 MVP and a loaded offense filled with names like Mark Andrews, Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers.

Fast forward to Sunday and Kansas City had another big challenge: another #1 seed, this time from the NFC, in San Francisco who finished the regular season with the third-most PPG (28.9). They were held to just 19 points in regulation and 22 overall after overtime.

Christian McCaffrey, who very easily could have been the MVP this year, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry (YPC) in the regular season as well as 4.5 in the postseason was held to just 3.6 YPC on Sunday. That registered as his lowest YPC in any game as a 49er that left tackle Trent Williams also played in. Simply a masterclass by Spags when the game mattered most.

Hall of Fame will come a-knockin'

So now that Spagnuolo has cemented himself as the best defensive coordinator in NFL history, can he become the first coordinator to ever grace the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton?

Currently, Dick LeBeau is the only non-Head Coach in Canton for his coaching on the sideline. And he is only in the Hall of Fame for basically creating zone blitz scheming and his longevity in the league after playing as a DB from 1959-1972.

Spagnuolo now has the best shot of possibly any DC or OC on any team's sideline of being inducted into Canton, but for now he is happy just being on the Chiefs and winning Super Bowls.

And surely, the Chiefs players that have trademarked the term "in Spags we trust" are also happy he's not going anywhere anytime soon.