Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp 2017 Preview: Pass Rushers

Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs will kick off their 2017 Training Camp on July 28th. Between now and then, we will break down all of the upcoming position battles. Our next position breakdown is a pass rusher group that must be more effective this year.

For many, it was a given that the Kansas City Chiefs would have a solid pass rush year in and year out. However, that was not the case in 2016 as the Chiefs failed to get the quarterback at the same level we’ve seen in the past. With training camp coming fast, we take a look to see what has been done to remedy a disappointing group in 2017.

Things simply did not go well for the Chiefs outside linebackers in 2016. Justin Houston suffered a setback in his rehab and ended up missing most of the season. Tamba Hali showed his age was very much a factor, and couldn’t put in enough snaps. Outside of a five game stretch, Dee Ford was unimpressive. There was way too much Frank Zombo out there.

Without reliable pressure from the edges, the Chiefs pass rush as a whole suffered a lot. After finishing top ten in the NFL in sacks in 2013, 2014, and 2015, KC came in at 28th this past season. That is not good at all, and it put pressure on the rest of the defense to step up.

Don’t let anyone tell you that sacks aren’t a good indicator of pressure. Over the course of a 16 game season, the teams that consistently get the most pressure will have the most sacks. Plain and simple. They certainly won’t be finishing at the bottom of the league in getting the quarterback.

Some Promise Ahead

However, there is good news for the Chiefs pass rush moving forward. Justin Houston is back and healthy as we head into camp. That alone puts Kansas City well ahead of where they were last year. We have also seen that Dee Ford does have the ability to be a force, though he needs to prove he can do it consistently.

The Chiefs pass rushers should also benefit from a healthy defensive line this year. Allen Bailey and Chris Jones should be able to tie up interior blockers to prevent double-teams on the outside. That should create more opportunities to get sacks for both Houston and Ford.

If the Kansas City pass rush can get back to form, then the rest of the defense should have a much easier job. Consistently pressuring the passer makes things easier for the secondary. It also allows the interior defenders to focus on being prepared to stop the run.

Can the Chiefs pass rush improve on last year? That will all depend on what we get from the outside linebackers…