The Kansas City Chiefs defense finally stepped up in Week 6, inspiring a 31-13 victory over the Washington Football Team.
Even more impressive was the second-half shutout that KC pitched, turning a 13-10 deficit into a road blowout in no time. Being that this hasn’t happened too often in 2021, we figured we would take a look at the unsung heroes of Steve Spagnuolo’s unit in Week 6.
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Two players that deserve some recognition for their efforts on Sunday — even if they didn’t receive the highest marks — were rookie linebacker Nick Bolton and the big-man with the hands, Tershawn Wharton.
Bolton briefly left the game with an injury but was able to return, leading the Chiefs with nine total tackles (seven solos, one for a loss). He excelled in coverage with a 68.0 grade according to Pro Football Focus, but could still use some work against the run. The second-round pick out of Missouri has made steady improvements as the season has gone on.
Wharton’s mention is more based on one play — although he did tie a personal season-high with three quarterback pressures during the win. The defensive lineman had one of the more athletic interceptions that the NFL has ever seen out of his position.
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3 Top Defensive Performers in Week 6
Based on PFF’s premium grades, there were three clear standout performances against Washington and they all came from the secondary.
3. Juan Thornhill, safety.
Thornhill has some extra importance attached to his stellar outing being that he replaced Daniel Sorensen as the number two safety before kick-off. Clearly, this move paid off as the former second-round pick in 2019 showed why he should be starting.
PFF awarded him a 78.1 overall which included a 74.0 in coverage and an 82.2 as a tackler. After watching Sorensen get burnt on deep balls week after week, this was a welcomed showing from the speedier replacement. Thornhill was only targeted twice (longest reception allowed was three yards), finishing with three defensive “stops” (key tackles) and three solo tackles.
Tyrann Mathieu would probably support a permanent Thornhill promotion, and most Chiefs fans might agree.
2. L’Jarius Sneed, cornerback.
Across from Rashad Fenton, Sneed had his best coverage game of the season with an 80.2 in that department and an 80.9 overall. He also played well in the run game, with a 74.3 run defense grade and a 77.5 tackling score.
Sneed played a role in a turnover too, recovering an Antonio Gibson fumble in the second quarter that was forced by defensive end Michael Danna. The corner had four solo tackles in the game (one defensive stop) and surrendered two receptions off five targets, allowing a long of nine yards.
According to Chiefs Hive, Sneed had a passer rating against of 47.9 in Week 6. His first five weeks all yielded a passer rating of 99.0 or higher. This was a much-needed bounceback from the 2020 fourth-rounder.
1. Rashad Fenton, cornerback.
I didn’t mention this above, but all three of these unsung heroes tied each other for a team-high 59 defensive snaps in Week 6. Fenton led the way in performance though, with an 81.7 on PFF and an 82.3 in coverage.
The 2019 sixth-rounder has been fairly consistent since returning from a one-game absence in Week 5, stopping five of 12 targets over the past two weeks. He did get beat on a 41-yard conversion against Buffalo (his only catch allowed), but Fenton rebounded in Washington with a reception long of 13 yards.
The CB recorded seven solo tackles (80.4 grade), including two defensive stops and one pass breakup in coverage. As things stand right now, Fenton is currently the second highest-graded cornerback in the NFL according to PFF behind Casey Hayward.