It has been a week since the Kansas City Chiefs were eliminated from post season play in heartbreaking fashion by the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs suffered a number of injuries on the way to blowing a 28-point second half lead to lose by 1, 45-44.
Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense shredded the Chiefs’ defense for 536 total yards and 436 yards through the air. The lack of ability to stop the pass was nothing new. It was a problem ever since the bye week, in which Kansas City entered at 9-0.
In those first 9 games of the season, Kansas City gave up 208.3 yards a game through the air on average. They recorded 36 sacks in those games, although 35 of those came in the first 7 games of the year.
After the bye, including the playoff loss in Indianapolis, Kansas City surrendered 315.4 passing yards an outing, and they only recorded 11 sacks, six of which came in one game against the Washington Redskins. The Chiefs also gave only 192 passing yards that day. Without that Redskins’ game, Kansas City gave up 333 passing yards a game and only 5 sacks in 7 games.
That lack of a pass rush and poor pass defense led to points for the opposition. In the first 9 games before the break, the Chiefs just allowed 12.3 points a game, and never more than 17. After the bye, Kansas City was pounded for 29.8 points a game, including holding Washington to just 10 points.
In the last 8 games of the season, the Chiefs have up 400 yards passing twice, and over 3oo yards three other games.
A crazy footnote to this season is that Kansas City finished 11-6 on the season, including the post season loss. They were just 2-6 after the bye. The odd thing is that all 6 losses came to just three teams and 3 quarterbacks. Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck were the quarterbacks to beat Kansas City this season.
The knock on the Chiefs early was that their schedule was not tough, and they played very few good quarterbacks. The Chiefs did beat Tony Romo, Michael Vick, who was later replaced by Nick Foles in Philadelphia, and Eli Manning, who had a horrible season.
Robert Griffin III also started against the Chiefs but was replaced in that game, and benched for the rest of the season afterward. The rest of the quarterbacks the Chiefs beat this season may not even be remembered in 10 years from now by anyone.
The truth is that the Kansas City Chiefs defense did take advantage of a poor slate of opponents, and a parade of lackluster signal callers. After the bye, when faced by a good quarterback, the Chiefs defense could not stop him.
Blame the adjustments, or the lack thereof, made by Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton. Blame injuries, Blame a lack of talent. Whatever the reasons, the Chiefs couldn’t stop teams from throwing at will, and racking up huge passing and point totals after the bye week.
The pass rush ceased to exist, even when Justin Houston did play. The secondary couldn’t maintain coverage enough to stop opposing wide receivers from having huge days, as Ryan Hunt pointed out last week.
General Manager John Dorsey and Head Coach Andy Reid have their work cut out for them over the next few weeks and months. Is Bob Sutton really the answer at defensive coordinator? Before the bye, everyone would have answered with a resounding yes, but the league adjusted to the Chiefs extremely aggressive pass rush, and Sutton never really came up with an effective counter measure.
Other than Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry, are any off the other cornerbacks or safeties worth keeping next season? None were effective for most of the second half of the season, and most were absolutely terrible.
It won’t be easy to rebuild this defense but there is little doubt something has to be done. The Chiefs were brutally bad after the bye week, and the 9-0 start was just enough to get Kansas City into the playoffs but did nothing to actually advance them any further.
Kansas City has to rebuild the defense. It will remain to be seen if they can get it done in one off season.