Kansas City Chiefs defense, preseason Week 2: They're everywhere!

Peter Aiken

This week, KaloPhoenix tries to keep up with all the different formations that Bob Sutton uses, continues his Eric-Berry-at-linebacker crush, and is impressed with the secondary.

Well, Week 2 of the Kansas City Chiefs preseason has come and gone, and I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for the real thing. Last week, I covered the first team's sole drive and went play-by-play through it with descriptions and pictures. This week, I'll get down to more of what you AP readers can come to expect during the season:

  • Descriptions of the important/interesting plays and formations (instead of every play)
  • Tabulation of RYPP: Rushing Yards Per Play allowed towards a defensive player
  • Tabulation of PYPP: Passing Yards Per Play allowed towards a defensive player
  • Other stats I like to keep track of: pressures, tackles for loss, pass break ups, etc.

The idea of these posts throughout the season is to give the reader some extra talking points outside of the normal tackles / sacks / interception statistics that tend to dominate the conversation (not that those aren't important, but you get what I'm saying). Also, as I do every year, I'd like to remind you that I am FAR from an expert on the topic, and if you think I'm incorrect about the way I saw a play or my assessment of a player, please feel free to discuss it in the comments. This is meant to be a discussion point: not a black-and-white interpretation of exactly how the game went.

With that out of the way, let's get onto the game!

  • Your Kansas City Chiefs starting lineup is the same as it was last week: Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, Mike Devito, Justin Houston, Akeem Jordan, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Kendrick Lewis, and Eric Berry.
  • Well, a 52 yard rush right off the bat isn't the way we like things to get started. The play starts as a simple off-tackle run to the right side of the offensive line. Immediately, there's no passing through Tyson Jackson and Justin Houston, and the backside pursuit (at least initially) seems to be there. Frank Gore has basically one way to go, and that's towards the sideline and towards some would be tacklers, as evidenced in this photo:

P2p1_medium

As we are all aware, that didn't happen. Instead, Tamba inexplicably cuts inside the pack of players, leaving backside contain to...uhhh...nobody. 52 yards later, Gore is finally brought down. Not a good start.

  • Player I'm most impressed by at this point in the preseason: Akeem Jordan. I honestly didn't realize that he'd shoot the gap as well as he has thus far. I want him to stand up the back a little more than he is (giving up a yard or two after contact), but he's filling the gap, so I can't complain TOO much.
  • Impressive coverage switches out of Justin Houston on 1st and 10 from the 23. Moves from the slot receiver to the motioning tight end, then chips the tight end to switch to the running back in the flat. He makes a tackle for a loss of 3 yards.
  • After holding the 49ers to a field goal, the defense steps onto the field with a 7-3 lead (Dave Toub, you can stay). Right off the bat, two of my guys get dominated in the run game: Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe. Poe ends up on all fours near the start of the play and gets smothered by his blocker. Tyson keeps his feet, but gets shoved five yards out of the play and into the second level where one of his blockers disengages and takes DJ out of the play. That's not something you want to see out of the guys in the trenches.
  • Anybody else thinking about revising their sack projections after watching Akeem Jordan identify the hole left by Poe and use his speed to get to the QB on 2nd and five? He's not going to drop into coverage very much, so if the 3-4 is on the field, chances are good that he's going to be blitzed. If other teams think as highly of Poe as we do, Jordan's opportunities to go untouched to the QB may be far more than originally thought.
  • The Chiefs blitzed three guys on the ensuing 3rd and 10 (Berry, Dunta Robinson, and Quintin Demps)...and dropped Tamba into coverage. Count that as a scenario I didn't think I'd see.
  • The result of that play was Sean Smith proving why he's worth the money the Chiefs are giving him. He stuck the receiver at the line, rode the route, then got his hand out onto the ball for a PBU. This ain't no soft zone coverage scheme.
  • Uhhh...cutback runs may really damage this defense this year. So we may finally know how fans of other teams feel when Jamaal does it.
  • DJ is a little behind on the 3rd and seven coverage, but forces the throw to be a tough one, and it ends up going through the slot receiver's outstretched hands, and into Dunta Robinson's. Dunta, unfortunately, drops it. Would have given the ball to the offense inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Brandon Flowers really wanted him to nab it, too...he jumped up and down four or five times right next to Dunta.
  • Anyone who has followed my articles over the past couple years knows this next line: "You don't run on Tyson Jackson and Justin Houston." So why would a team leave Justin Houston single blocked by a fullback? That's like drinking "light" beer: stupid. Yet, that's what occurred on 1st and 10 from the 22 yard line near the end of the first quarter. It resulted in a two yard loss.

P2p2_medium

  • Well, the Niners learned their lesson on the last play, and they end up blocking Houston with a big man this time around. They also double team Poe and run at Tyson Jackson...but that leaves Mike Devito single blocked, which also appears to be a problem for San Francisco. He uses excellent hand work to sidestep the blocker, then moving laterally across the field to stop the running back from behind for a one yard gain. Good quick moves and nice strength to bring down the back.
  • On this end of the first quarter / beginning of the second quarter drive, the Chiefs defense did well on the first two downs, setting up a 3rd and 11 and a 3rd and five situation. Each time, the quarterback recognized a huge gap left behind by a rushing Tamba and scrambled for a large gain. I've always said that Tamba gets a little too far upfield at times, but that also results in sacks and pressures from the guy. What I don't understand is why the defensive linemen or linebackers who are blitzing don't fill those gaps. There seems to be an escape route too often, and over the past few years, we've watched this team get gashed by mobile quarterbacks because they couldn't keep them in the pocket.
  • Not bad in coverage by Tamba on 1st and 10. Delayed route into the flat by the running back, Tamba keeps him in front and makes the tackle just after the catch. Not much he could've done differently there.
  • 1st and 10 with 8:54 left in the half and Akeem Jordan somehow sneaks by the pull blocker to meet the running back in the gap. Spins the back around and hangs on for the tackle for no gain. Agile move by the SILB there.
  • Tyson Jackson's roughing the passer penalty just further proves how much they're protecting QBs. That hit happens to another player anywhere else on the field just after the whistle, and it's nothing. The quarterback turns, releases the ball, and just as his foot is coming back down to the field, he gets shoved in the shoulder. The picture below is at the point of impact. That ball has just been released and is well behind the line of scrimmage. It may be letter of the law, but I think that hit should be legal.

P2p3_medium

  • Dunta hit the "Turbo-Jump" Button combo on this fourth down stop:

P2p4_medium

  • Devito lines up at nose tackle to start the next drive at 4:34 left in the first half. Poe is lined up at defensive end, but he's definitely shaded inside. Devito does well to drive the center back, and Poe cleans up the running back. Poe and Jordan were trying to wrestle the ball away from the back after the play was over, too.
  • Since I've mentioned Tamba's overpursuit several times, I should mention the excellent job of staying home by Devito the next play. He was moved back to defensive end, and right off the snap, Tamba got way upfield. When he cut back towards the running back, the play was already past him. However, Devito strung the play along and made the tackle on the left edge of the line for a minimal gain. That could have been turned upfield for a big one had Devito not held his ground. Well done.
  • You shouldn't throw the back shoulder fade on Sean Smith. Don't try. He'll pick it off. (Or it'll be pass interference.)

The Numbers

94 - Tyson Jackson / 92 - Dontari Poe / 70 - Mike Devito / 50 - Justin Houston / 55 - Akeem Jordan / 56 - Derrick Johnson / 91 - Tamba Hali / 24 - Brandon Flowers / 27- Sean Smith / 21 - Dunta Robinson / 29 - Eric Berry

Yppt_medium

Looking at the chart, you can see the large number sticking out from Tamba. He ended the half with 19.67 YPPT, though most of that came from the 52 yard run to start the game. DJ was the only other player about 4 YPPT, and Justin Houston led all players with -1.5 YPPT through four plays at him. Tyson Jackson also had an excellent day with 0.6 YPPT through five plays at him. I'm going to keep saying it as long as I keep seeing it: You can't run on TJax and Houston.

Pyppt_medium

Once again, one player sticks out, and this time, it's Brandon Flowers. He was thrown at twice, once was incomplete, and the other was a 21 yard gain. DJ and Sean Smith were both thrown at, and neither allowed a completion...although Smith did have a pass interference call. Once again, Justin Houston led all players, with -3 PYPPT...although that was only one pass, as noted above.

Other Items of Note

Akeem Jordan led all players with two missed tackles. DJ, Tamba, and Flowers each had one.

Tamba had one QB pressure.

Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson each had a pass broken up.

Justin Houston had two incredible tackles for loss. Poe and Berry each had one.

Final Thoughts

The things that stick out the most are Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and the secondary. Houston was a FORCE in the run game and did well when called upon against the pass. Eric Berry (as Joel pointed out) had a ridiculous series where he blew up an entire drive. He looked sharp on others as well, and his continued usage as a weapon in the defense is inspiring for the upcoming season. The first-team secondary allowed a total of 24 yards passing. Sure, it's preseason, and the Niners pulled their starters early, but it's nice to see that this team can handle the challenges put before them. 24 yards is excellent...especially considering 21 of those yards came from one play toward Flowers.

On the negatives, Tamba's run game still needs some help, but that might be something that Sutton realizes and shifts Devito as the season goes along. DJ's playing slower than we've seen in the past, but like I said last week: we all know what he can do. No reason to freak out at the moment. Runs against the grain of the defense and quarterback scrambles didn't look good, so let's hope that too gets remedied.

As always, it's hard to take anything definitive away from a preseason game, but you have to play the teams put in front of you, so it's good to see the numbers and players look good and stay healthy. Points were given up on a big run and back-to-back penalties, so a little cleaner execution helps with at least one of those drives. Here's hoping for a little more time next week against the first team and continued success.

More Chiefs defense from KaloPhoenix:

Chiefs defense, preseason Week 1: Attack!

Bob Sutton: Jack of all trades

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