Kansas City Chiefs Won’t Be Bending or Breaking on Defense in 2013


October 07, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback

Joe Flacco

(5) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker

Tamba Hali

(91) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently in the middle of Organized Team Activities (OTA’s), and thus far the players have shown excitement in the new schemes on both sides of the ball. While the offense was virtually nonexistent in 2012, Kansas City’s defense did produce four Pro Bowlers, but still struggled from week to week as a unit. Sometimes having multiple Pro Bowlers can compensate for miscues but when a team plays against Peyton Manning twice a year, everyone needs to execute with precision.

A prime example was made of Romeo Crennel’s “Bend but don’t Break” defense when Kansas City visited Denver during the regular season finale December 30, 2012. It was not pretty. The Chiefs allowed 32 first downs and could not produce a sack the entire game, as Manning threw for 304 yards, completing 29 passes and 3 touchdowns. It was obvious, change was coming.

Along with the hiring of the meticulous Andy Reid came new coordinators. For the defense, they welcomed former New York Jets linebacker coach, Bob Sutton. From 2006 to 2008, Bob Sutton was promoted to defensive coordinator under Eric Mangini. He did not have a lot of talent to work with as the Jets defensive rankings were middle of the pack but they gradually improved by replacing a 2-gap 3-4 system for a 1-gap scheme. Rex Ryan replaced Mangini after a few mediocre seasons, but hired Mike Pettine as his defensive coordinator. However, Ryan retained Sutton as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach, while keeping the same defensive system in place.

In the last four years, the New York Jets have thrived at creating pressure and disrupting opposing quarterbacks, and have consistently been ranked as a top 10 defense in Fewest Yards Allowed Per Game. The Jets finished 8th in this category in 2012, 5th in 2011, 3rd in 2010, and and 1st in 2009. Coach Sutton may not have received much credit for the Jets’ recent defensive success, but he brings a lot of football knowledge that could benefit a hungry Chiefs team. From Herman Edwards’ Tampa 2 disguises to Rex Ryan’s blitzing packages, Kansas City’s defense will be ready to attack in 2013.

“That’s one of the things the guys have tried to embrace,” coach Sutton expressed in a recent interview. Tamba Hali seems to be leading the charge in buying into the new philosophy: “From cornerbacks to safeties, to linebackers, we’re coming.”

There’s an abundance of young talent waiting to be tapped into on the Chiefs roster. 2012’s first round pick, Dontari Poe, has been playing well in OTA’s as of late, taking advantage of the new mind set being instilled. “Anyway we can disrupt the offense and get to the quarterback… that’s the first thing we do as defensive lineman.” Poe mentioned recently after a stellar practice where he tipped an Alex Smith pass, caught it and ran the opposite way for six points.

Kansas City’s defense has been the team’s Achilles Heel for far too long. In the past four years, in the same category of Fewest Yards Allowed Per Game, the Chiefs ranked, from 2009-2012, 30th, 14th, 11th, and 20th. Their primary achievements have been individual accolades since the mid 90’s. Yet, it appears that the Chiefs have the most accumulative talent on their roster for many years. The players seem ecstatic about coach Sutton’s style of attacking, rather than reading and reacting; for the fans sake, let’s hope their new mojo will transpire on game days.