Watching last night's winning effort by the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Diego Chargers (I just love repeating that), my impression of the defense was that they played pretty doggone well. Yes, Rivers got some yards but the Charger running game seemed nearly strangled most of the game. Kansas City's defense appeared to be on the field the whole second half but still the Chargers also only put up 14 points. So, I was eager to see how the Chiefs' D fared against the rest of league. According to NFL.com, the Kansas City Chiefs defense after Week 1 was ranked......29th?!? How could that possibly be? Good Lord, where's the improvement I thought I saw? Should I start marching back over to that cliff and look for a hard spot to land?
The answer is an emphatic "NO!" Let's face it, regularly giving up nearly 300 yards in the air and over a 100 on the ground will make for a long, long season. However, very little needs to be done to significantly improve KC's defense. Here are some reasons for optimism. To begin with, the first step isn't even for the defense to make. Simply put, a more productive offense makes the Chief's defense much better. The fewer times opposing offenses touch the ball, the fewer yards they will accumulate. Also, Kansas City's special teams are off the charts! What's that got to do with the price of tea in China? Well, first of all, superior special teams, especially on kick coverages indicates superior talent in the depth of the team. Football is also a game of field position. We witnessed first hand on Monday night how hard it is to win when a team's offense is required to continually drive the length of the field.
So how can the defense improve it's ranking on it's own? Let's break it down first, and again, these stats are from NFL.com. KC gave up 280 total passing yards for a ranking of 29. They gave up 109 yards on the ground to fall in at #18. This combined for a total of 389 yards the 29th place ranking. What to do? It's simple really. Had the defense eliminated one big passing play and controlled a second-string running back, their ranking could have easily been number 16. Subtract the one blown coverage for 59 yards the the 23 yard run by Tolbert and KC winds up 19th in passing, TENTH! in rushing defense with a very respectable total defense of 16th. It is just that close. Two plays. These guys on defense are young and still improving. They will take that next step. Weis and Haley will find more offense. While I will stop short of making a bold prediction, I will say that Kansas City's defense is very close to being in the top half of the league.Very close! If they can gel by week 8, anything can happen.