Recently I've been wondering about the chiefs pass rush and where they are going to get sacks from outside of Tamba Hali. After Hali, the best pass rusher was Wallace Gillberry with 4.5 sacks as a backup DE. Generally 3-4 DEs don't get many sacks, instead they occupy blockers so the LBs can make plays. So who is going to be the other LB that will get sacks on the board?
Derrick Johnson is a playmaker, and all Chiefs fans know that. As I know it though, OLB get more sacks that ILB in the 3-4. DJ is of course an ILB but still, if he can get on the field, I'm sure he can get in the range of around 3-6 sacks. Getting on the field may prove to be an obstacle for DJ but I'm confident he'll show Haley he can get it done.
Williams isn't so much a playmaker like DJ, but he can find his way to the opposing QB. Williams best season was back in 2005 with the Atlanta Falcons where he notched up 127 tackles, had 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions. 5 seasons on and he hasn't quite hit that form since. Don't envision Williams being a big time pass rusher. He is more of a run stuffing ILB. He might be able to get to the QB a couple of times during the season.
Now that's the ILBs. Now on to the OLB, the true pass rushers of the 3-4 defense.
Mike Vrabel was one of the key cogs to the New England Patriots defense during their dynasty years along with Teddy Bruschi, Richard Seymor and Ty Warren. Vrabel's best season as a pass rusher was 2007 when he collected 12.5 sacks, a far cry from his 2 sacks in his first season in Kansas City. Vrabel brings a lot to the table in terms of leadership and mentoring. He can teach young pass rushers like Andy Studebaker, Cameron Sheffield and Wallace Gillberry a thing or two about getting to the QB. Chances are this will be Vrabel's last season as a starter for the Chiefs as he will have to hand the starters spot to a younger player, should that player prove themselves. Expect Vrabel to put a bit more pressure on the QB than last season but he's nearing the end I believe.
A well liked up and comer in the Chiefs organization. Studebaker had a great game in the absence of Vrabel against Pittsburgh, getting two interceptions. What he didn't show was an ability to get to the QB. No sacks isn't that great for our apparent future OLB. I'm not as sold on Studebaker as most are but I'm prepared to give him a chance. I'm seeing a few sacks from him this season, but it will come down to how many opportunities he's given.
A fifth round pick out of Troy in this year's draft, Sheffield may not see many snaps considering the amount of players he's competing against for a position. I Believe Scott Pioli picked Sheffield as a player who can come in and take some snaps to let Hali have a rest. Hali worked tremendously hard last year and didn't get many breathers. Sheffield may be an Alex Magee type player and may get a couple of sacks for the season, but not many other stats to go with it.
There's plenty of talk around the Chiefs that suggests they are going to be moving Gillberry to OLB. This would be good because I think Gillberry would be better suited to OLB rather than DE. But like Sheffield he will be competing against a lot of people for a spot as an OLB. If he can get some snaps as a backup OLB, look for Gillberry to get somewhere around 5 sacks.
As I remember the Chiefs only dressed 4 OLB for game day last season. That being the case, I believe the Chiefs will have Hali and Gillberry man one side and Vrabel and Sheffield manning the other side with the latter of each pair being the backup. Who do think the Chiefs have as the OLBs? Also, who do you think the leading pass rusher will be outside of Hali, assuming everyone believes he will be?