Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24)

Kansas City Chiefs Pass Defense Needs To Be Completely Rebuilt



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.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry (29)Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Can the Chiefs afford a pass rushing defensive end this team so desperately  needs to compliment Houston and Tamba Hali on the outside, and Dontari Poe and Derrick Johnson on the inside?

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.


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Tags: Bob Sutton Kansas City Chiefs

  • jimfetterolf

    Defensive end and a free safety will help. Also need wide receivers. Should be doable with the draft and FAs.

  • 2dogs

    Any merit to as fans we are not told of lingering injuries to several players. We know about the pass rushers to an extent but guys like Cooper getting beat and Lewis unable to tackle leaves me thinking they were hurt?

    • superman_25_58

      Cooper is a rookie CB who has only been a CB for 3 1/2 years after this year. He was originally a WR who switched to CB in the middle of his sophomore year. He is going to be just fine……… I mean he made way more good plays this year than bad.

      • 2dogs

        So did Cooper have an undisclosed injury the last 6-7 games? I like Cooper and think he’ll be fine. Lewis definitely looked like was hurt.

        • superman_25_58

          Ya Cooper will be fine. Lewis is another story…….. I don’t think he ever got healed mentally after his first few injuries to be honest. Time to send him packing to a new beginning IMO.

  • Redblack564

    The chiefs tended to get burned when they were in the Nickel package, and only rushing Hali and Houston with a 2 man line Poe and Jackson . What happened to seeing 9 men at the line and DARING the QB to beat them. Sutton went to coverage when he should have been attacking. Agee we need to replace Lewis with a backend enforcer.

    • berttheclock

      Not only a tough safety, but, one with far better speed than Lewis. If only Detroit had not needed a starting guard, who knows the what ifs. Detroit traded with the Seahawks for Sims, who starts at guard for the Lions. This moved the Seahawks up and they picked Chancellor near the top of the 5th round just 3 picks ahead of the Chiefs taking Lewis. Bigger, stronger and faster than Lewis. That said, who really knows what Pioli would have done had Chancellor been on the board,

  • berttheclock

    One of the topics several posters have mentioned is the need for a wide out who can gain separation and catch passes. Sounds fairly easy to draft one, but, consider this. In 2012, there were 33 wide outs selected in the NFL draft. Out of the first 13 taken, only two have risen to the top. One was taken as the 7th WR picked and the other was taken 13th. The first is Alshon Jeffery the outstanding receiver for the Bears who has had two two hundred plus yards games and has been named to the 2014 Pro Bowl. The one taken at 13 was T J Hilton, who racked up over 200 yards against the Chiefs and had over 100 yesterday against the Pats. BTW, the 4th receiver picked was A J Jenkins, who is, now, a Chiefs player. Blackmon, the first selected has had major problems, while, such as Britt of the Titans has ended up being a head case. So, the idea that Dorsey just select one and all will be solved appears to come down to a bit of luck in finding the right one. Hilton fell to the 3rd round, even though he had a super fast combine 40. Had any team taken Hilton in the 1st round, they would have been roundly criticized for reaching, but, now, if such as Kiper could do one of his do over drafts, Hilton would be a legitimate high 1st round pick. Trent Baalke of the Niners is known for his shrewd drafts, but, he took Jenkins instead of Hilton in the 1st and passed over him once again in the 2nd round. Good hunting, Mr Dorsey.

    • superman_25_58

      From what I can see over at GB, Dorsey knows how to scout and pick good players/WR’s. Nelson, Cobb, Jennings, and Jones, Mathews, Rodgers, etc……… it seems like he has hit more times than missed IMO so I like our chances.

      • berttheclock

        I’m not saying Dorsey can not, but, my point of the class of 2012 shows how difficult it was to have a fairly instant star at wide out. In addition, below those picks came the great pickup by the Bolts of the wide out from Cal, who fell in the draft. I, also, added the phrase, “Good hunting” as I am solidly in the camp supporting the talents of John Dorsey.

  • tm1946

    The overall view of the Chiefs may need adjusting not just the defense.
    Andy is a offensive minded HC, so his offense will have to step up to take the pressure off the defense.
    There are 5 pro bowlers on defense, not one stepped up, drew a line in the sand, and led the defense to stop the colts. Something very wrong here.
    Sutton, no idea of what he is or is not but is he placing his players in a position to win, round pegs in round holes or square pegs in round holes.
    No pass rush, Poe played like a iron man but even with Hali and Houston there were times there was no pass rush, coaching or players? Both or neither?
    Lastly my pet concern, Flowers. In the past, he was the man in DBs even with the rise of Berry. This year, before injury bug, he took a step back, still the best CB but not all that good. Sort of like a defensive Bowe. The stud of a player at a position just not all that good.
    PS, one last “thought”, what the heck happened against colts, their receivers had to drop the ball on their own because they had room to operate, why?

    • berttheclock

      Loved the comment by Luck about the Colts knowing the Pats’ DBs loved to use their hands, but, he still tried to hit his receivers. Notice the shutdown of Hilton where Talib did a great job of curtailing passes thrown to him. I forget the numbers from the Indy Star article, but, Luck threw far less to him than he did when they played the Chiefs. Hilton still gained over one hundred yards, but, most of those came from two plays. One was a super double move which Talib bit and Hilton gained almost 40 yards. The other came from a release by Talib and the safety was late on picking up Hilton. Luck ended up throwing more to both Fleener and one other receiver. Brazil did burn the Pats, but, look what Blount did in running on them. Funny thing, I remember when he had problems with other teams because he was known as being a poor blocker in the back field and he was removed on obvious passing plays. That didn’t stop Belichik from signing him.

      • tm1946

        My view is great receivers get their catches. Hilton may be good but Chiefs plan or players made him look like he should retire and walk into the HOF. Plan or execution? Also can happen any Sunday.
        Just it was a wasted opportunity for the Chiefs and I am comfortable in saying the Chiefs may build a dynasty but it will not be next year. Two or three years from now, if draft comes together and Manning retires and no new stud at QB shows up in the AFC West, and the stars are aligned, maybe.

        • mnelson52

          I don’t want Manning to retire. I want the Chiefs to get good enough to beat him and Rivers. Even without the needed wide receiver, our offense was starting to click. Even though we lost a lot in the last 8 games, they were clicking, just no defense. In the 1st 8 games we played, I don’t think our offense was bad, because in reality, some of those teams had a better defense than the teams that beat us. They were just weaker on offense.

    • mnelson52

      As long as everyone was that open anyway, they might as well rushed 8 men to try and get a sack..lol

  • Nick

    The other part that we aren’t talking about is that Eric Berry has a cap number somewhere around $12 million this year in the last year of his rookie deal, that’s too much for a SS. Now I’m not recommending cutting Berry but we do need to sign him to an extension.

    • mnelson52

      I didn’t think Smith looked very good, but I think he was still the best we had in coverage. Without a pass rush on good QBs, none of them will look good. Since we can’t fill all holes in one off season, I think it’s very important to get a DE that’s very good at pass rushing. They can’t double team everyone. We could also use an ILB that is good in coverage and pass rushing. Nico could be that guy, but I haven’t seen enough of him to know.

  • DTVTechGuy

    The secondary was exposed when the pass rush went to shit…. When Sutton stopped using exotic blitz packages and starting more zone coverages in the secondary…. He devolved instead of evolving…. He fell in love with his own sack numbers and figured Hali and Houston could get it done on their own… Anyone who wants to blame the talent is failing to properly break down the games… Sutton doesn’t make adjustments…. Ever…. Game to game…. In game… Half time.. For an NFL level DC…. That’s pathetic…

    Cooper keeps getting beat? Where’s the Safety help… No where to be found…

    Middle of the field getting abused.. Where’s the LB’s…. Sitting on their zones…

    3rd and 13/14/15…. Your dropping back, rushing 3/4…

    30 seconds in a game…. Only a TD beats you.. Your in a man press cover instead of dropping 5/6 guys into a deep umbrella zone and keeping everyone in front you….

    Sutton failed on a regular basis on very BASIC concepts…

    He needs an adjustment… A job adjustment.

    • Jim Harper

      Well said and unfortunately all true.

  • sidibeke

    I think you need to keep Smith on the list of keepers. He played well.

    Will Nico J. turn into anything on the inside? He had potential coming out. We need to add talent/depth to our secondary. Not sure if Commings can be the guy; KC staff should know. Robinson is not, and I think it’s time to cut Lewis and perhaps Demps (good returner, horrible safety…his mis-play cost us the 1st SD game.

    • mnelson52

      He didn’t cost us that game. The defense as a whole did. Starting with Sutton making no adjustments and giving up 38 points in the last 31 minutes just like in Indy, giving up 35 in 28 minutes. When the other team sees your not going to change, they make adjustments to beat your coverage.

      • sidibeke

        Oh sure, lots of blame to go around. But our FS play was atrocious and he had over the top coverage on Allen on the TD, started to come in (why?) and then couldn’t get back in time. It was a horrible play.

  • superman_25_58

    We are Jarius Byrd away from maintaining a top 5 secondary IMO, we just need to replace Lewis. He can’t tackle a lick and can only cover 1/4 of the time.

    • mnelson52

      I don’t think Lewis alone was giving up 330 yds per game. They all looked bad when the pass rush stopped. A better pass rush against the good O-lines would make our DBs look a little better than they are but Lewis does have to go. I wonder if they might think about trading Flowers to get our 2nd round draft pick back

      • superman_25_58

        Yeah he didn’t give up 330 yds per game just a minimum of 150 ypg, just kidding lol, but…. seriously the guy looked horrible. Missed many much needed tackles and got toasted by the pass many of times. Lewis just hasn’t seemed like himself since he got injured is all I’m saying, I agree it’s time to move on!

  • Calchiefsfan

    Upgrade the DC and FS and that should make a world of difference. My fear is that Reid keeps Sutton out of loyalty and it costs the Chiefs another year before it becomes totally obvious that he is in over his head at DC. If the Chiefs can get an innovative DC and upgrade the FS position they will be perennial Super Bowl contenders, imho.

  • tomflex

    OK….the great thing about our defense was our two monster pass rushers on the outside and our monster nose coming up the middle forced the opposing QB to get rid of the ball much faster than he wanted too.
    Problem 1….The good QB’s had no problem doing this because they had receivers immediately open which neutralized our best weapons. Reason1.. Cover guys were leary about contact in the first five yards probably for fear of getting knocked him out of coverage (????).
    Reason 2…Little crossing patterns and pic plays were never addressed effectively and almost always freed up a receiver.
    Problem 2…Those short passes turn in to long gains way more often than they should. Reason1…Cover guys fail to make the initial tackle. Reason2…Misdirection pulls defensive players away from the intended play. Reason3…Only one Safety to cover the entire field. Reason4…Defensive players lack recovery speed to make up for mistakes.
    Biggest problem of all……That one great Free Safety. That is not only a playmaker who prevents short plays from becoming big plays but also the instincts and leadership to coordinate on the field in the most effective way.