So far this season the Kansas City Chiefs have clearly shown progress rushing the passer (relative to last season). Last year's NFL record low 10 sacks was a miserable experience and while the Chiefs progress in 2009 certainly isn't elite or even above average, it makes this team at least semi-watchable.
Two players have emerged as the sack leaders through nine games. Tamba Hali and Wallace Gilberry have combined for seven of the team's 12 sacks.
Entering today's game, Hali and Gilberry were tied for the team lead with three sacks. Yesterday they were each contributed with a half sack. Fittingly, it came on the same play.
On a 3rd and 16 in the second quarter of Sunday's 16-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders, Gilberry and Hali got penetration and brought QB JaMarcus Russell to the ground.
Each player actually has a good story and it would be nice to see them receive some recognition if one is able to become the team's sack leader. I know, I know, they're on pace for about six sacks, which wouldn't be very impressive for the team leader. But these Chiefs have issues, remember?
Hali of course is converting from defensive end to linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He stopped speaking to the media and focused solely on getting better in the predator role of Clancy Pendergast's defense. It's been a good fit, which has been surprising to more than a few of us.
He combined for 16.5 sacks in his first two seasons before dropping off dramatically in the debacle known as the Chiefs 2008 season.
Gilberry is an undrafted free agent that caught on with the Chiefs last season. He was a holdover with the new regime and largely an afterthought in any talk of the Chiefs defense. However, he's changed that with 3.5 sacks so far this season. He's on pace for about 7 sacks which would be encouraging from a player many of us wouldn't have noticed leading up to the season.
The Kansas City Star had a nice article on Gilberry yesterday.
Entering week ten, the Chiefs were 22 sacks behind NFL leader Minnesota so the pass rush is nowhere near it needs to be. In fact, it currently ranks above only Jacksonville. However, Hali and Gilberry are getting a little jumpstart on their teammates which is a good thing. I don't see a game-changer in the Chiefs pass rush so it'll have to be production from a variety of sources, like Hali and Gilberry, to consistently rush the passer.