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The importance of Derrick Johnson: Numbers edition

Everyone who watches the Chiefs knows how important Derrick Johnson is to the defense. Here's some numbers from last week's games proving just how much he means to the front seven.

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Saturdays I normally post my numbers and analysis of the defensive front seven. Unfortunately for you guys, this Saturday happened to fall directly on my 5-year wedding anniversary. While my wife loves the Chiefs, and appreciates what I write, I'm pretty certain that spending the day on a post and then discussing it in the comments would have resulted in me losing some parts of me in a very painful way. I've run through the numbers, but coming up on game time this morning, I don't really have enough time to make charts, type up all the analysis, and give it to you in the normal way. I will sit down and do that this afternoon or tonight to make sure it gets posted and can be used as a frame of reference.

Instead, I'd like to use the numbers I have from last week to show just how important DJ is to the defense. I think most who watched the game can agree that the defense got hung out to dry by the offense, and that the secondary was poor (specifically Eric Berry). However, the front seven played pretty well, notching three sacks and having NO player (that's base and dime package) give up more than 3 yards per play when run at them. As a matter of fact, for the second week in a row, the middle of the defense was under 1.6 yards per play run at them. That's pretty tidy work, setting the offense up in 3rd and long situations on a regular basis. They even stepped up coming out of the second half, making a few key stops on drives to give the offense good field position.

Then, on the second to last drive of the game, Derrick Johnson came out of the game. At that point, the Chiefs had given up 50 yards rushing through three and a half quarters. After that, the front seven gave up another 55 yards over 11 rushing plays. That's 5.5 yards per carry when the Chargers were trying to run out the clock. The defense is sold out on the run, so what's the deal? Cory Greenwood was unfortunately the problem. After coming into the game, the Chargers repeatedly ran at him, taking advantage of his lack of aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage. Greenwood also wasn't able to organize the front three well enough to try and create the double teams and mismatches that would have allowed the Chiefs to stop the Chargers and get the ball back late in the game. He showed the same trouble diagnosing the offense and committing to the run that he did when I criticized him during the preseason.

It's troublesome to watch it happen on the field. It's worse to see the numbers. It's even scarier to think that Ray Rice and company are coming into Arrowhead today without a 100% healthy DJ. The numbers don't lie. He means everything to this stop unit, and without him, today might be a painful day.

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