Kansas City Chiefs: Is Dee Ford the scapegoat you want him to be?

Linebacker Dee Ford #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Linebacker Dee Ford #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

It’s now April, and the Kansas City Chiefs still have some concerns and questions about the defense. The ROLB spot is one of them, but should it be?

When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dee Ford in the first round back in 2014, fans were ecstatic. To hear the things being said about Ford raised expectations quickly and unfairly. A large reason for those expectations came from the comparison of Derrick Thomas, who happens to be the most beloved Kansas City Chief of all time. He was also pretty good at football.

Now, in 2018, we can all say that Ford is indeed not Derrick Thomas. The comparison came from Ford’s quickness off the snap, something Thomas was elite at. Ford showed glimpses of excellence, especially in 2016, but those glimpses were overshadowed by his knack for disappearing from the game film. Figuratively and Literally.

Expectations, What expectations?

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His first two seasons were extremely slow and nerve-racking for fans who expected him to excel. Over his first two seasons, he managed only 5.5 sacks and 24 tackles over 30 games. To put things in perspective, Brian Urlacher had 25 tackles in one game back in 2006 for the Chicago Bears. Derrick Thomas had a record 7 sacks in a single game.

No, Ford is not the caliber of either player. The numbers Ford was putting up were not first round draft pick numbers either. By then most fans had written Ford off, but when injuries started to mount for Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, Ford stepped in and stepped up, somewhat.

Dee started 14 of the 15 games he played in during the 2016 season, finishing up with 10 sacks and 25 tackles. Those ten sacks brought back some of the fair-weather fans that had left him for dead the previous two seasons, but it also put Ford in the spotlight.

In his six games last season, Ford recorded just 2 sacks and 11 tackles. He started all six games. The spotlight faded, and the haters crawled back from their fear of being wrong.

All or Nothing

2018 will be the year for Ford. This upcoming season will determine everything for Ford. Due to certain issues with his back injury, he wasn’t able to pass a physical in March, guaranteeing his money for this year, and not allowing the Chiefs to part ways one way or the other. Ford is getting paid pretty big bucks for a guy that has put up pretty low numbers.

8.7 million dollars for a guy that has been outplayed by Frank Zombo.

The problem with Ford is that he is one-dimensional on defense. Even that one dimension isn’t great so far. To start as many games as he has, to only produce the numbers he has, almost makes no sense. He completely gets lost if the play isn’t directed at him. There is no recovery, no run down, nothing. If Dee Ford doesn’t hit the quarterback, the Chiefs consist of ten defenders.

Kansas City seems ready to give him one more chance, however, with the only threat to take his job being 2nd-year experiment Tanoh Kpassagnoh. If Ford can actually get to the quarterback this season, all may be forgiven. To get the monkey off his back, however, he is going to have to figure out how to play defense. How to read the offense and understand schemes. How to play in short coverage.

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It has to be hard for anybody to be the guy a whole fan base wants to be removed. The only way for Dee to change this is to change himself. A good camp will not suffice with Chiefs Kingdom, they are a smart fan base, neither will a good pre-season. Dee Ford is going to have to bring it, week in and week out.