Kansas City Chiefs: Pass Rush Not Getting Better

Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

I hate to say it folks, but the Kansas City Chiefs do not have a quick fix answer for getting the pass rush going.  No, this is going to take some engineering on the part of Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton.  Based on the talent available, the most ideal solution is more pressure from the defensive line.  However, as we saw in the preseason, that has some drawbacks against the run game.

The Chiefs could always blitz more.  Sutton has shown a propensity for dialing up strong blitz packages.  However, those blitzes tend to exploit match ups caused by having a dominant pass rusher on the field.  So there may be a limited effectiveness there.

Really, the only answer I can give you for now is that the Chiefs simply have to hold the fort until the return of Justin Houston.  There is nobody else on the roster who gives the Chiefs even a fraction of his output on the field.  Opposing teams don’t have to adjust for any of our other linebackers like they do Houston.  So the Chiefs are kind of stuck until he returns.

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Long Term Options?

If you’re an astute fan, you may already be questioning what the Chiefs will do in the future.  Good on you.  I have asked that question myself.  The answer?  John Dorsey will have to try his hand in the draft again.  Fortunately, 2017 is shaping up to be a good draft to go looking for a pass rusher.  So who am I looking at?

Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee (6’3, 257 lbs)

The Kansas City Chiefs have to be looking for a pass rusher early, and Derek Barnett fits the bill.  Barnett has ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker, as well as an excellent combination of strength and athleticism.  Barnett is a disruptive force both in getting after the passer and in attacking the run.  He also shows an impressive array of pass rush techniques for a college player.

Of course, this early on there are no guarantees about a player’s draft value.  As the season (and offseason) progress, players will see their draft stock rise and fall.  If pundits and teams see the same things I do with Barnett, then he won’t be an option for the Chiefs.  However, until that plays out, this is my draft crush and (hopefully) the eventual answer to the Chiefs pass rush concerns.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but there just isn’t a quick fix at outside linebacker.  Until Justin Houston is back on the field, the Chiefs are going to be working from a disadvantage there.  That is going to test the young secondary as they will have to put in a lot of work.  Hopefully Justin Houston won’t require any additional time off after the Week 6 PUP list date.