Flashback to Week 7 and not many NFL observers would have pegged the Kansas City Chiefs defense as a unit that would ever dream of finding themselves in an elite category.
Kansas City had just been thoroughly dominated by Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans a couple of weeks after getting torched by the Buffalo Bills. They also allowed 29 points or more in the first four weeks of the season.
To put it mildly, things looked bleak on this side of the football and it was beginning to affect the offense. That’s when the season took a turn for the better.
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Elite Stat Highlights Chiefs Defensive Resurgence
Although the precursor may have occurred against Washington in Week 6, the true shift began in Week 8. According to Kansas City Chiefs Twitter, KC is “the only team in the NFL this season to hold the opposition under 18 points in four-straight games.”
Over that span, the Chiefs have only allowed 11.75 points per game. The improvements can be found all across the board but one area that has excelled has been the pass-rush.
Pro Football Focus credited Kansas City with 88 quarterback pressures the past four weeks, an average of 22 pressures per game. Against Dallas, this unit led the way with five sacks and Chris Jones was at the heart of it with 3.5 sacks to his name.
That performance earned Jones the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award.
During the postgame press conferences, head coach Andy Reid spoke on the recent surge from his pass-rushers, saying: “To get [Melvin Ingram III] in there I think is a nice thing, a nice addition. He brings a certain energy to the group. A veteran player, all the guys respect him and welcomed him in. Not that he’s playing every snap, but he’s playing quite a bit and he’s strong at the point and does some nice things. But I think it upped everybody’s game.”
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Chiefs Defense Sparks Epic Turnaround
Outside of the victory in Vegas where both units were efficient, the defense has been the driving force for Kansas City over their winning streak. This is a rarity for the Chiefs franchise since Patrick Mahomes took over at quarterback — and possibly even before that.
On the defense as a whole, Reid noted: “They’re flying around and they’re working well together, rallying to the ball, getting great rush, we’re doing a good job with our gap responsibility, linebackers, I haven’t mentioned [Anthony Hitchens], his leadership is so valuable. When he’s healthy and he’s in that position, man, and now he can eat for free when he goes home to Dallas in the offseason.”
The Chiefs HC also made it a point to voice that this group is finally healthy multiple times. He highlighted players like Charvarius Ward and Juan Thornhill in the secondary, as well as the aforementioned Jones and Hitchens among others.
“The backend played exceptional today, I think the game ball should go to the backend,” Jones told reporters after Week 11.
The superstar D-lineman continued later: “It’s never how you start it’s how you finish. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to go through adversity along the way. We went through adversity. We had a lot of guys hurt. We were rebuilding the chemistry back on this defense and getting guys healthy. Being able to play together, I think this was the first time, within four weeks, that we had all of our guys healthy and able to mesh and play together. That is a huge part of our defense.”
One thing’s for sure, this defense is feeling good right now and when you feel good, you play good. Tyrann Mathieu said it best, “they don’t crown champions in October and November,” and the Chiefs know the job is far from finished.
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