The Chiefs defense has looked exposed recently and were stunned at the end of last week’s game in Oakland to ultimately lose by only one point. The Chiefs are just getting outmuscled by any explosive offense that comes their way. Fans have been surprised by the recent defensive play and are questioning Bob Sutton. Bob Sutton can only call the plays, as the players are the ones that have to go out and get the job done for him. This defense has been one of the better defenses in the last few seasons, so why are they not as successful at the moment?
The Chiefs have continued to be a bend-don’t break defense, but the defense is just not as suffocating as in the past. So far, the Chiefs defense has allowed the most explosive plays with 78. That is a run play that goes for over 11 yards, and a pass play over 15 yards. Also, last week Derek Carr dropped back 52 times and the Chiefs hardly pressured him a bit. They are currently in the middle of the pack in sacks with 15, and there has been not much consistency in the pressuring of the quarterback. In the NFL, teams are going to move the ball, but the Chiefs just seem to always get beat because their opponents have continued to keep them wavering on whether the next play is a run or pass.
Now the run defense has struggled for a few years now, but the pass defense is not terrible. When in coverage, some of the completed touchdowns and other passes have just been great throws that are hard to defend. The Chiefs have also lost Eric Berry, and their size in the defensive backfield is sometimes a detriment before they even take the field against a given offense. The defense always battles and not every play is going to be perfect, teams are going to gain yards. The Chiefs defense could be worse and are still in the top half of defenses around the league.
Are the Chiefs really that bad of a defense or have they just not had the upper hand yet? Well, according to the rankings, the Chiefs schedule so far pits them as facing the second toughest schedule for offenses against them. The Chiefs may be just getting started. Steven Nelson might be making his season debut, after getting placed on injured reserve in training camp. Tamba Hali will also be back soon, which gives the Chiefs a chance to rush from all areas of the defense and not just on the outside edge. So, don’t write off this Chiefs defense just yet.
What does this mean this week against the Broncos? So far, the Chiefs have faced a team that has had a speed demon at wide receiver in most of their games. If you look at the Broncos, they do not have a lot of burners and the Chiefs defense will have to worry about maybe some more outs and crossing routes than what they have seen so far. Also, the Broncos offensive line is still a work in progress, and is tied for the 4th most sacks allowed. The Chiefs defense was relentless against the Broncos offensive line last season, as Justin Houston was virtually unstoppable in his first real action in Denver last year. The offensive line is a little slower and Trevor Siemian can allude some pressure, but he is not Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott. The Chiefs defense has the speed advantage for once this season, and the running backs are also not quite as dangerous in space as the backs the Chiefs have faced so far. The Broncos usually run a lot of plays up the middle, and the Chiefs have to be in the cutback lanes at all possibilities. It will be interesting to watch if Jamaal Charles gets a huge ovation. Charles is one of the best Chiefs offensive players in history and he will get a chance to show the Chiefs if he still has something left.
All in all, the Broncos are a decent offense and have confused some good defenses this season. But, the Broncos are usually not as good on the road. In two road games this season, the Broncos have been outscored 47-16 and Siemian has thrown no touchdowns and three interceptions with one fumble lost. This is a game where the Chiefs are backed up against the wall, as most people are believing that they are not a better team than last years after the 5-0 start. The Chiefs also have now lost their division win streak, so they can just go out and play with no worries and can only improve their fortunes on defense.
Braden Holecek is a writer for cover32 Chiefs. You can follow him on Twitter here.