After the first five weeks of the season, it is obvious what the Chiefs’ main problem is. The real question is what can be done to rectify the defense? Well, based on the stats, there are a couple solutions that could be viable.
The Kansas City Chiefs are below .500 through heading into week six for the first time since 2015 and it is not sitting well with most of #ChiefsKingdom, which has been undeniable for anyone scrolling through social media since Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Kansas City’s most recent loss to the Bills created plenty of blame to go around but no matter who the finger is pointed at it’s not going to help change the main problem (i.e. the defense) until certain players are held accountable.
Chiefs’ Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s “bend-don’t-break” defense has been successful, for the most part, since he arrived in Kansas City four years ago but for the last six games, the defense has shown that it has become easily breakable.
In fact, for the past six games (going back to Super Bowl LV) Patrick Mahomes has had to score 28+ points in order to win the game which is more consecutive games than Peyton Manning (4), Aaron Rodgers (4), or Dan Marino (3) ever had to achieve in a row in their careers.
Just how bad is this defense?
To put it into perspective the Chiefs defense currently ranks last in opponents points per game (32.6 PPG), yards per play (7.1–an NFL record), red zone TDs allowed (17), and total sacks (seven).
Sadly this poor level of play is not a first for Spagnuolo’s defense…
None of these statistics were what Spagnuolo and head coach Andy Reid were hoping for this season, especially with so many returning players from the past two Super Bowls, but that begs the question even more…how did this defense get this bad this fast?
For starters, his 2012 New Orleans Saints defense allowed 6.5 yards per play (2nd worst in NFL since the turn of the century). Not only was his ’12 Saints defense one of the worst in modern NFL history but his 2015 defense when he was DC for the NY Giants he allowed 6.1 yds/play (2nd-worst that year) and allowed the most yards (6,725) to go along with it.
Those two years Spagnuolo’s teams combined for a 13-19 record (7-9 with NO & 6-10 with NYG) and both of those years his team’s offenses finished in the top 6 in PPG. This all fits the current pattern with the Chiefs considering they’re bottom of the barrel in points allowed but currently ranked fifth (30.8 PPG) in the league on the other side of the line.
What can be done?
I want to start off by saying the key injuries to players like Chris Jones, Charvarius Ward, Willie Gay Jr., and Frank Clark don’t help this defense keep any sort of flow or help build consistency.
And now with the news that Jones and Ward will both be out for tomorrow’s matchup with the Washington Football Team, it’s going to remain tough to pull out victories every defensive snap.
Outside of injuries, Daniel “Dirty Dan” Sorenson has made enough mistakes this season to be benched–and possibly cut–if on another NFL team, yet he’s still receiving over 97.8% of the defensive snaps (2nd-most on KC’s defense).
If Reid and Spagnuolo switch up Sorenson’s position on the field and his snap count goes down then perhaps Chiefs fans can get a glimpse at just how much worse things can get with the likes of Juan Thornhill (42.77% of def. snaps) and Armani Watts (4.52%) on the field instead.
Hopefully with a switch at safety, and some new blood in the middle of the field with 2nd-year LB Gay Jr. growing next to rookie LB Nick Bolton, there can be some more sparks and takeaways that will help Mahomes break the total passing TD record (55) in a season.
If defensive ends Jones and Clark can stay healthy through the playoffs they can be extremely effective but right now the main goal should be reaching the playoffs. Other than those two applying pressure there needs to be someone reliable over the middle and someone more reliable than Sorenson out deep.
On top of all of that the Chiefs need better execution from their young players like DB L’Jarius Sneed who had the 2nd worst PFF grade (36.3) on defense against the Bills last week.
Everyone needs to play better but not everyone is being held responsible so far this season.