Much has been said about the Chiefs excellent pass rush and the development of Dontari Poe at nose tackle. But some credit needs to be given to the secondary, who Pro Football Focus says is the best in the NFL (ESPN Insider Required).
And it is not even close.
Does this surprise anyone? By generating early leads, the Chiefs have been forced into a heavy dose of their dime defense (42.9 percent, with the league average at 4.9 percent), and they’ve showed impressive strength in terms of DB depth. The only downside has been the play of Dunta Robinson (a -5.9 grade), but the emergence of rookie Marcus Cooper (+3.4) has been the kind of pleasant surprise that helps mitigate the play of the veteran. Still, the stars of the show have been CB Sean Smith, thriving in new surroundings that have seen him in press coverage on 76.1 percent of snaps, and Eric Berry, our fourth-ranked safety on the season, who is really delivering on his talent.
Kansas City received a +27.9 grade for their secondary, 15 points higher than second place Seattle Seahawks. And to consider that KC is almost always up against the pass due to having a lead makes these grades even more impressive.
Knowing that Smith, Flowers, and Cooper are going to be able to cover their guy one-on-one without any help coming over the top has been crucial in keeping the volume turned up on the Chiefs pass rush. Bob Sutton could not continue to implement his aggressive style of defense that sees pressure coming from everywhere if he didn’t have the secondary play he has been receiving.
In no way could the Chiefs have played this style of defense last season given what they had at cornerback. Credit has to be given to John Dorsey for identifying and acquiring defensive backs who could handle the man-to-man coverage required Sutton’s style. The Marcus Cooper addition, who was cut by the San Francisco 49ers after the preseason, has to be considered one of the best off-the-radar pickups in the NFL this season.
KC’s defensive transformation is truly extraordinary.