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Kansas City Chiefs front 7 evaluation: Week 3

The Chiefs defense played well enough to win. KaloPhoenix tells you how they did it. Photo credit: Chris Sembower

Chris Sembower


Damn, it feels good to be a winner.

The Chiefs took on the New Orleans Saints in Week 3, and after a shaky start, the defense stepped up and shut down a high powered offense for the win. After a couple weeks of sub-par performances, the defense stepped up in a big way, stopping the Saints on crucial drives, and even turning the game on its head with a safety-sack courtesy of new star Justin Houston. We all saw the big plays, and the big stops, but what about the rest of the game in the trenches? I'm here to give you the full game numbers on the Chiefs Week 3 victory.

Kalo's front seven evaluations: Week 1 | Week 2

  • 45% of the time, the Chiefs lined up in the traditional base 3-4 defense.
  • 53.33% of the time, the Chiefs removed Jovan Belcher and a defensive lineman for a dime defense look.
  • 1.67% of the time (read: one play), the Chiefs lined up in a goal line defense.
  • First play of the game, DJ shows he's come to play this week. He tucks in behind Poe in the 3-4 and jets on a run blitz off the snap. He forces the center to make a decision between Poe or DJ, and choosing Poe, DJ makes a tackle for no gain.
  • Sproles' 47-yard scamper: Well, this is an easy one to diagnose. The Saints spread the Chiefs out into their dime defense. The receiver to Tamba's right cuts inside and makes a seal block, with two offensive linemen pulling into the now empty secondary. Easy yards here. Hopefully teams don't see this and start to exploit it, because with Tamba's pursuit, he can get caught out without sealing the edge. Luckily, a running back as quick and agile as Sproles won't come along every week.
  • 4:48 in the first quarter, the Saints have the ball first and 10. The Chiefs are in the 3-4, and right off the snap, Poe gets blown off the line. Tyson Jackson recognizes this and shifts inside to the A gap, dragging his man with him. DJ follows him inside alongside Berry, and the three of them close the gap for no gain. Great recognition, and great execution to make up for the hole.
  • 2:36 left in the second quarter, it's first and 10 again for the Saints. The Chiefs are in the 3-4 again, and Berry goes in on a blitz after Tamba forces the quarterback to step up into the pocket. As Berry has the quarterback in his grasp, Drew Brees gets a pass away before he hits the ground to a nearby running back resulting in a seven yard gain. Great execution of the blitz by the defense, great play by the quarterback. Point goes to the offense.
  • Multiple plays throughout the second and third quarters that may have gone unnoticed: two and three yard gains with Jovan Belcher and DJ able to get to the running back with ease due to the play of Glenn Dorsey, Jerrell Powe, and Jackson. Too many to list, but excellent contain and execution to force the Saints offense into 2nd/3rd down and long plays.
  • Fourth quarter, pivotal drive for the Saints. The offense is pinned inside their own 10 yard line, and the first down play was incredible. Bailey eats two guys, allowing BOTH DJ and Eric Berry to shoot gaps around him. Sproles receives the toss and is met almost immediately by two free pursuers, tackling him for a two yard loss.
  • IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THAT PLAY, Justin Houston (in an almost unfair show of force) beats the right tackle for a safety-sack in the endzone. You want to take about a turning point for the defense in this young season, point to these back to back plays as the fire that got lit under their asses. Fantastic stuff here.
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    Photo Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE
  • Find a copy of the game. Watch the Saints overtime series. Enjoy. The pressure brought by the front seven was immense with the Saints having their back against the goal line again, due to the superb play by Jalil Brown to keep the ball inside the five yard line. Pressure is brought from everywhere, especially on third down, with DJ coming on an outside blitz that makes Brees step up into the pocket and get WALLOPED by Ropati. The confidence brimming off this defense is at an all time high for the season.

The Numbers



Look at how pretty those 3-4 numbers are! Outside of DJ (who obviously had some dime snaps), ALL of the 3-4 personnel had less than two yards per play towards them...except Tamba. Tamba's not on this list...if I stacked him on here, it would be insanely hard to read the rest of them. He had three plays run at him for 54 yards. That's 18 YPPT. Granted, most of that comes on a 47 yarder by Sproles, but it's bad. That run was in the dime defense, though. Looking at just the 3-4 snaps, ALL PLAYERS ARE UNDER TWO YPPT. That's insane. Teams don't run on the 3-4 with success.



Once again, I've dropped out a number in the YPPA graph...Poe was only ran away from once: for 47 yards.

Other Items of Note

Tyson Jackson led all defensive linemen with 3 EDT's. Dorsey, Poe, and Powe each grabbed two, with Ropati grabbing one.

Houston had three sacks. DJ had one.

Houston led all comers, notching five total pressures. Tamba clocked four, DJ and Ropati had two, and Dorsey had one.

Powe brought the team down with three DFM's. Dorsey had two, and Tyson had one.

DJ and Tamba each had a missed tackle.

Houston led all in coverage plays: thrown at twice for zero yards. DJ was thrown at 3 times for 20 yards (6.66 Yards per Target), and Belcher was thrown at once for 6 yards.

The Final Word

Impressive. Following my Twitter timeline, you'll see a fan that went from extremely concerned to reaffirmed in the capabilities of this defense. The adjustments were correct, the execution was sound, and the results showed. There's no doubt that Justin Houston was the player of the week this week, but he got a lot of help sprinkled throughout the rest of the front seven. Jovan Belcher was a stud in the middle of the defense, doing his job yet again and holding the Saints to 1.43 YPP when they ran at him. Dorsey, Powe, and Jackson were all under 1.8 YPP at them as well, meaning that the base 3-4 is exactly what it should be: really difficult to run against. The pressure brought by the team in crucial situations was superb, as well.

Going up against San Diego, this team should stay more in their base defense. If that's the case, expect the Chargers to have difficulty running the ball against the Chiefs solid front. This should set up advantageous positions on 3rd down for Houston and Hali to force Phillip Rivers to throw quickly, lest he end up on the ground. It's nice to see a defense this team can lean on again.

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