After five weeks of inconsistent and lackluster play on defense, the Kansas City Chiefs have begun making big moves on that side of the football in order to turn things around.
The Chiefs will start Juan Thornhill over Daniel Sorensen at safety in Week 6 against the Washington Football Team, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. Thornhill is expected to be the starter moving forward, with Sorensen headed to a reserve role.
“The highly anticipated move comes on the heels of a brutal loss to the Bills that saw Sorensen struggle mightily during important moments,” Rapoport wrote. “Sorensen gave up a 61-yard pass to Stefon Diggs to make way for a Buffalo field goal, then allowed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox, with the Bills tight end slipping past the last line of defense.”
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Sorensen at Forefront of Chiefs’ Poor Play
The man Chiefs Kingdom calls “Dirty Dan” is beloved by many, however, his struggles in the secondary this season have put him at the forefront of criticism directed at Kansas City’s defense and made him one of, if not the most polarizing player on the team.
Through five weeks of the regular season, Sorensen has been one of the worst players at his position in the entire NFL. He has graded out at 35.0 by PFF, which ranks at 83 out of 85 qualified players at the safety position. His play is part of the reason why the Chiefs defense ranks near the bottom of the league in most major statistical categories, like yards per game allowed (31st), points per game allowed (32.6), and turnovers forced (26th), per ESPN.
Sorensen’s play has caused one Chiefs fan, in particular, to try and get him out of Kansas City, creating a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy out Sorensen’s contract with the Chiefs.
After five weeks of numerous big plays that have been given up the Chiefs defense, several of which involved a lapse in coverage or poor tackling by Sorensen, Kansas City has decided that it’s time to demote the veteran in favor of Juan Thornhill, who now gets to build upon his strong rookie performance.
Thornhill a Budding Star
Thornhill, a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is in his first season full healthy since tearing his ACL in Week 17 of the 2019 season. He did play in the 2020 season, however, it wasn’t until the postseason that those watching could tell Thornhill was finally regaining the potential he had during his rookie season prior to his injury, which had earned him a spot on PFF’s all-rookie team for that season.
The momentum Thornhill had in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run carried into this summer, albeit playing with second and third stringers during the preseason. He had one of the best plays in the NFL in August, recording a diving interception against the Arizona Cardinals in Kansas City’s second preseason game.
Despite the strong postseason run followed up by a strong preseason, Thornhill has been playing in a reserve role to start the 2021 season. The third-year safety has played just 43% of Kansas City’s defensive snaps through five weeks of the regular season, per Pro Football Reference. However, he now gets to take a on a starter role, which will give him the opportunity to showcase once again why the Chiefs took him with the 63rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
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