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ArrowChop: Will Mike Pennel’s suspension affect the Chiefs in the first two games?

With Pennel being absent for the first two games of the Chiefs’ 2020 season, will it affect them in any way, shape, or form?

Hello again everyone and welcome to another week of the ArrowChop! This is the column where we look at the positives/negatives of a certain Chiefs/NFL issue and look at both sides of the aisle. Then you, the readers, will come to your conclusions after I lay out the case. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we breakdown this week’s hot topic.

The Chiefs’ off-season just keeps on becoming more and more complex as another suspension has come upon the defense. Chiefs defensive tackle Mike Pennel will be suspended for the first two games of the 2020 NFL season, yet there has been no clear reason why he was in the first place.

Many have been led to assume that it was due to substance abuse as he stated in a formal apology on Twitter that “… I take full responsibility for what goes in my body and (I) promise to be more vigilant moving forward.”

No matter what the situation is, this is a blow to the interior of the Chiefs’ defense. Will his suspension affect the Chiefs in the first two games of the NFL season? Let’s break down both sides of the case to find out!

Pennel’s suspension won’t affect the Chiefs

This side of the case relies largely on the fact that the Chiefs have massive depth at the defensive tackle spot to back up Pennel’s absence against the Texans and Chargers. As stated by my colleague Dylan Wilhelm, the Chiefs will have two defensive tackles rotating between snaps; and they are Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders.

With this young depth backing up Jones, it will feel as though that Pennel’s absence has no effect on the defense as a whole. Pennel was able to back up Jones and Nnadi on that defensive line amazingly, but Saunders had the same effect, if not better, in some areas.

With that said, let’s compare/contrast Saunders’ and Pennel’s stats from last season (all information is going to be coming from Pro Football Reference). Both of them had the same numbers in QB hits (2), solo tackles (13), and sacks (1.0). Pennel had more combined tackles (24 to 22), tackles for loss (2 to 0), and assisted tackles (11 to 9) than Saunders, but Saunders had more pass deflections (1 to 0) and less missed tackles (0 to 1) than Pennel.

Let’s not forget that Saunders is a rookie and he was playing at the same exact level as Pennel was. In a sense, the Chiefs will probably receive the same level of play that Pennel played at with Saunders now taking his role.

We also have to look at the fact that Pennel was never a starter for the entire 2019-20 season. According to Pro Football Reference, Pennel did play eight games, but he ultimately started zero of them. This means that his role on the defense was to back up Jones and Nnadi if any one of them needed to come off the field.

With second-year defensive tackle Khalen Saunders now taking that role away from Pennel for the first two games, this suspension has barely any effect on how the Chiefs are going to play throughout.

Pennel’s suspension will affect the Chiefs

This side of the case relies largely on the fact that the defensive line will be losing a major piece in the lineup. Pennel has thrived at barging through the offensive blockers and compared to Saunders, Pennel was able to prove that.

As I stated beforehand, Pennel had more tackles for loss and according to Pro Football reference, he had more quarterback pressures than Saunders as well. With that in mind, we could probably see a decrease in QB pressure in the first two games and, especially against Deshaun Watson, which could hurt their chances of winning.

In closing, this is the case for if Mike Pennel’s two-game suspension will affect the Chiefs. What are your thoughts on the whole situation? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!

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