The defense continued their stellar play against the divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. After starting off the season having one of the worse rankings in the NFL, the defense has only given up 12.7 points per game in their last three games. How has the script flipped?
After starting off the season giving up nearly 33 ppg, the Kansas City Chiefs defense has drastically improved only giving up 12.7 ppg during this three-game winning streak. We have seen glimpses throughout the season with guys like Bolton making a case for DROY or getting Willie Gay back after hitting the IR at the beginning of the season.
The defense has revived and got their swagger back. The defense got their swagger back by being aggressive, being stingy, and communicating better as to why we have seen a significant shift in the last 5 weeks or so. However, the players to thank for the awakening of this unique unit includes the addition of Melvin Ingram, Chris Jones moving back inside where he flourished, and a healthy Frank Clark.
Melvin Ingram Addition
Ingram started off the season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was not nearly seeing that much time on the field. A lot of experts begin questioning if Ingram was at that same level. However, after his first appearance with the Chiefs against the Packers, it was pretty clear he still had enough in the tank. Ingram originally visited the Chiefs this off-season and a deal was not reached. However, once he was on the trade block with Pittsburgh, KC did not hesitate to put in an offer and get the once-star DE over to Kansas City.
With KC not generating a good pass rush at the beginning of the season, it was imperative they made a move before the trade deadline. The addition of Ingram provided greediness and a player who can play all over the defensive line confusing opposing offenses. I expect Ingram going forward to get more snaps with the unit and by the end of the year being the clear-cut starter opposite of Frank Clark.
Chris Jones back at DT
After starting out the season as DE, Jones finally moved back inside after the addition of Melvin Ingram. Although at times you see him in certain packages as DE, you can tell Spags was ready for his star DT to go back to where he has been dominant. This change was needed because with what KC has on the line for the rest of the season, CJ’s dominance on the inside is what creates pressure for the entire defensive unit.
With him collapsing the middle, it allows guys like Clark and Ingram to dominate on the outside forcing the opposing QB inside and making it uncomfortable for them the entire night. Not only does it create more opportunities for sacks, but also turnovers including interceptions and batted-down balls, as we saw Sunday night against the Raiders.
There was a time in the game that CJ batted two balls down in a row, and you could see the frustration on Derek Carr’s face. CJ’s height and quickness on the inside give him an advantage over guards and centers which made him become an Aaron Donald-ish caliber DT. If KC can continue this going forward, Sack Nation will be back in full effect for the entirety of the season.
Frank the Shark Clark
Frank Clark had a tough beginning of the season in which he did not play the first game of the season due to injury, however, coming back he has not been what we saw in that Super Bowl run in 2019. Although we know he is dealing with legal situations outside of football, the Shark has still been able to play.
From the beginning of the season to now, you can see that Clark is a lot healthier and quicker on the outside. Also, he has been using more power moves as well to create separation with opposing tackles and knocked them off balance to gain traction on the QB. Even though his numbers have not improved much on the stat sheet, his pressures and the way the defense is beginning to fly around have strengthened the unit to make them once again a threat on the defensive side of the ball. Going forward, I expect Clark to be hungrier and more explosive as the Chiefs try to fight their way back to the top of the AFC.
The remainder of the season should be quite entertaining, and I am expecting this unit to at least be in the top 15 by season end. There are many intriguing matchups left and will be facing powerhouse offenses such as the Cowboys next week, Chargers, and the Bengals, however with this unit clicking and beginning to gel, opposing offenses will be facing a rude awakening.