Who is Chip Kelly, and what’s this offense that everyone is talking about?
That seemed to be the thought that was running through the minds of the Kansas City defense on Thursday night. The whole gang seemed to get involved. Between Eric Berry’s opening pick-six, to Justin Houston’s 3.5 sacks, the Chiefs defense looked faster (most of the time) and more physical than the Philadelphia offense.
Defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, drew up the perfect game plan to stop Chip Kelly’s high powered offense. He stayed true to man coverage, often rolling safety Kendrick Lewis over the top to help prevent the deep threat of DeSean Jackson. At the same time, Sutton kept his speedy linebacker and 9 year veteran, Derrick Johnson in the middle of the field to take away Michael Vick’s mid range targets.
Eric Berry stayed underneath as well, often shadowing Eagles tight end Brent Celek, which helped him gain the interception return. Sutton also held back on the blitzing, only sending blitzers after Vick 6 times out of 37 drop backs.
The Chiefs defense did struggle against the rushing attack of Philadelphia, surrendering 264 net yards on the ground. LeSean McCoy proved why he’s such a special and dynamic talent in the NFL right now. McCoy showed patience, speed, and toughness after coming back from a sprained ankle and finished the night with 158 yards rushing and a TD.
There aren’t going to be many teams that can stop the running attack that Eagles have this season. Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy in the read option is deadly, and while the Chiefs did give up a few big plays here and there, the Eagles only scored 16 points. The KC defense understood that guys like McCoy or Vick are bound to make big plays, it was just a matter of limiting them.
Another part of why Sutton’s game plan worked, was how effective the Chiefs were only rushing 4 guys majority of the time. What else is there to be said about the emerging superstar, Justin Houston? He already has 7.5 sacks, which leads the entire league, and he added a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries Thursday night. Oh and yeah, he also tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs have spent a lot of high draft picks to put together this defense, and it seems that it might finally be coming together. I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled about the Dontari Poe pick of 2012. I was tired of seeing the Chiefs spend first round picks on defensive lineman and especially on a kid from a mid major school. Well, Poe is making me eat my words.
Having a disruptive force like Poe is what’s making this defense so successful. On one of Justin Houston’s 3.5 sacks Thursday night, Dontari Poe drew the double team in pass protection, leaving Houston 1-on-1 with rookie tackle Lane Johnson, a match-up that heavily favored KC. If Poe has to demand double teams all season, which seems to be the case, Houston and Tamba Hali will reek havoc on opposing QB’s.
KC’s pass rush is strong for sure, but any good pass rusher in the league will tell you that it’s only effective if the secondary allows it to be. Kansas City felt the need to load up in their secondary this year with all the names they brought in during the off season. The Chiefs secondary held Tony Romo to 298 yards and just one TD. They limited Vick to just 201 yards and 1 TD as well, but also generated two interceptions. Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson and Husain Abdullah are all proving to be excellent signings so far.
The KC defense is also putting up staggering numbers in the takeaway category through the first three games. The offense is yet to turn the ball over, knock on wood, leaving them with a +9 in the turnover to take away ratio. That’s amazing, considering how horrible they were last season. Clearly this reflects on the coaches preaching, protect the football and take it away. So far, the Chiefs have been the best at it in the NFL.
If there is anything that the first three weeks have shown it’s how dominant this Kansas City defense can be. Sure, they’ve given up a few big plays but it’s the NFL, plays will be made. The defense has done a great job of limiting them and forcing turnovers. If KC can continue to play this strong on defense, they will be in every game they play this year including the two against the all mighty Denver Mannings, oh excuse me, the Denver Broncos.
With Arrowhead getting back to its old ways, the Chiefs defense will be playing with 12 players at home; 11 on the field and the 12th in the stands. Kansas City is already one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, and this is shaping up to be the way it was in the 90’s with dominating defense and a strong home field advantage.
The Chiefs still have a lot of football left to be played but, they’re a young and well coached group that you can tell is playing together. For the first time in years, the Chiefs look like a professional football team.
Enjoy Chiefs fans, this defense is legit.