Chiefs’ Ascending Talent Named Most Improved Player at Bye Week

Getty Kansas City Chiefs helmet.

With the Kansas City Chiefs’ bye week coming at the halfway point of the regular season, it’s a good time to evaluate the roster to see where the team stands.

Arrowhead Pride’s Ron Kopp Jr. is dishing out his bye week awards, and named Chiefs second-year defensive end George Karlaftis the most improved player on Kansas City’s roster.

“The second-year defensive end is putting it together this season,” Kopp wrote on November 9. “Some may have seen him as simply a high-motor, high-effort player — but that is just the foundation of the 22-year-old. Those traits are combined with pass-rush skills that improve each week and contribute to one of the NFL’s best defenses.”

George Karlaftis Making Big Jump in Year 2

George Karlaftis, 22, was a first-round pick — 30th overall — of the Chiefs in 2023. He put together a solid rookie season; in 17 regular season games played he registered 48 total pressures (37 QB hurries, 7 sacks, 4 QB hits), 21 stops, and 7 batted passes, according to PFF. During Kansas City’s Super Bowl run earlier this year, he registered 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack in three games played.

Halfway through the 2023 season, Karlaftis has nearly matched his 2022 numbers; he has recorded 44 pressures (35 QB hurries, 6 sacks, 3 hits), 11 stops, and 3 batted passes in nine games played.

Karlaftis’s improvement this year was expected but nevertheless welcomed. His play, along with the play of many of Kansas City’s defenders, has led to the Chiefs having one of the top defensive units in the NFL.

The latest example of the unit’s dominance was during the team’s 21-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 9. Heading into that game, the Dolphins were leading the league in points per game and still are despite mustering up just 14 points against the Chiefs (31.7). That game marked the seventh time this season that Kansas City held an opponent to 20 or fewer points.

“I’m not going to slight our defense. But I wouldn’t have guessed that,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid during his postgame press conference when asked if he expected the Week 9 victory to be a defensive game. “Typically two good offenses, that being the No. 1 offense, the Dolphins, in the National Football League right now. For the things that our defense did right there, that was a tremendous achievement. Obviously, we got to keep it going. You’re just as good as the next game that you play in. That was a heck of an achievement. [Defensive coordinator] Steve [Spagnuolo] did a great job with scheming it. The players executed very well.”

With the Chiefs’ offense struggling to find its footing this season, Kansas City’s elite defensive play has helped guide the team to a 7-2 record and first place in the AFC.

Chiefs Schedule & AFC Standings

Let’s take a look at the remaining regular season schedule for the Chiefs:

Here are the current standings in the AFC. Keep in mind that seven teams from each conference make the playoffs:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)
  4. Miami Dolphins (6-3)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
  6. Cleveland Browns (5-3)
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)
  8. Buffalo Bills (5-4)
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