Chiefs Could Make ‘Shake-up’ on Defensive Line, Says Analyst

Derrick Nnadi, Chris Jones

Getty Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (#91) waits on the opposition in 2021.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 defense has not been bad by any means, but it has allowed 20 points or more in every game this season.

Some of these results have come in garbage time during blowouts, and others have been razor-thin margins and late-game losses. The fact remains, this defense still has a lot of room for improvement after the bye week — especially in one area in particular.

Analyst Suggests Danny Shelton Over Derrick Nnadi

Arrowhead Pride film expert Ron Kopp Jr. noted the troubling defensive trend on Twitter. “The Chiefs defense ranks 32nd in ESPN’s team run stop win rate,” he relayed. “The last 3 weeks have plummeted what looked like a solid run defense, but I just think they weren’t tested until the [Las Vegas] Raiders game.”

Kopp even had a suggestion of how the Chiefs may try to remedy the situation. “Wouldn’t be surprised to see a shake-up, like Danny Shelton replacing Derrick Nnadi [at defensive tackle].”

Obviously, ranking last in any category is never a good thing, but some fans tried to rationalize the statistic. One commented: “We’re giving up 92 yds per game. The last 3 games is 127 per game with 101 in the [San Francisco] 49ers game. The worst of these games was the Vegas game with [Josh] Jacobs running all over us and the [Buffalo Bills] numbers are skewed with [Josh] Allen’s rushing ability. We’ve been pretty good against the run this year.”

Others referenced the absence of starting linebacker Willie Gay Jr. during his suspension.

While all that seems fair, this run defense could still use some work and Kopp is offering a way that Kansas City could try and get better. Plus, according to the analytics, his assessment appears to be on point. Nnadi is the Chiefs’ worst-graded defender on Pro Football Focus outside of fellow DT Taylor Stallworth — who has only played 14 snaps. The 2018 third-rounder has earned a 32.5 out of 100 so far.

Not crazy about PFF grades? We hear you, so let’s dive deeper.

In seven starts this season, Nnadi has zero tackles for a loss. As a pass rusher, he also has no sacks or quarterback hits.

He’s supposed to be on the field for his run defense though, and those metrics are downright terrible. Nnadi has only been credited with three key defensive stops compared to two missed tackles.

Even more concerning is his average depth of tackle. Other Chiefs front-line defenders like Frank Clark, Chris Jones and George Karlaftis have an average depth of tackle under two yards — meaning they bring down the opposition before they can gain more than a couple of yards (on average). Nnadi’s average depth of tackle is 4.5 yards, which is poor for a defensive tackle.

Shelton is an enormous lane clogger who is known for his run defense. At the very least, his presence should help linemates like Jones break free more often.

Nnadi is one of the longest-tenured Chiefs on this defense and sentimental fans may not love the idea of replacing him, but when you look at the film and the numbers he’s just not getting the job done. Kopp might be right, it could be time for a “shake-up.”

Is Ndamukong Suh the Answer?

Another solution could be to look outside the organization. Some fans have called for a Ndamukong Suh signing at D-tackle.

The 35-year-old Suh has been one of the top run stuffers in football since entering the league in 2010. He’s also made it known that he’s not retiring and would like to play for a contender.

There are two obvious questions regarding a Suh addition though — how much money is he looking for and how much does he have left in the tank at age 35?

Right now, the safer bet is to give Shelton a shot and if he fails, you might still be able to sign Suh in a couple of weeks.

Money is tight right now in Kansas City and general manager Brett Veach brought in these veteran depth pieces for a reason. It’s time to give Shelton his opportunity.

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John Mullenaux
John Mullenaux
3 months ago

Suh would be great because we have our bye an him an Jones in middle or Jones on end creates havoc! That increases the likelihood of Clark sacks too. I don’t like the wr trade as I think our dline Oline need the help then maybe a cb

Jerry Nixon
Jerry Nixon
3 months ago

It IS time for a change. Nnadi’s numbers are absolutely horrible and as you said, the safer bet is to give Shelton a shot, but do it now. The weakest part of this team is the defense and when your numbers are as horrible as Nnadi’s, you need to make that change NOW not later! If only we could clone our best defensive player, La’Jarius Sneed, add 100 lbs to his frame and put him up front.

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