For the first time since the week before Halloween the Kansas City Chiefs have held an opponent to under 100 yards rushing. The Chiefs much-maligned run defense finished the Oakland Raiders game giving up 78 yards on 17 carries.
"We did a better job, I thought, of staying square upfront, kind of constricting the lanes and linebackers playing downhill," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on Monday, via quotes from the Chiefs. "The safeties got involved in that too. Actually, a few of the snaps the corners got involved. I thought we tackled better. Fundamentally, it just seemed like we were a little bit better in that area yesterday than what we had been."
The run defense has been a major issue in recent weeks, and it will be a major focus this week when the Chiefs face the Pittsburgh Steelers' Le'Veon Bell who is as hot as any running back right now.
The Chiefs allow 4.9 yards per carry, which is ranked No. 30 in the NFL. The Chiefs gave up 4.6 yards per carry against Oakland, a slight improvement. So, I'm not sure we learned that much from the Chiefs and their run defense in the game.
The Raiders, for some odd reason, went away from the run way too early. It was a 10-6 game in the third quarter and the Raiders had 12 rushes and 30 passes. That's just insane against a team who is among the NFL's worst at yards per carry allowed and one of the best pass defenses. Speaking of that yards per carry allowed, the Chiefs 4.9 yards per carry allowed are 30th in the NFL. They gave up 4.6 yards per carry vs. Oakland.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, I don't think the Steelers' offensive coordinator (remember Todd Haley?) is going to abandon the running game like that so earl on. I hope they do but I don't expect it.
So I don't think a good outing against an Oakland team that put together a bad game plan should be who we judge the Chiefs run defense against. Pittsburgh has one of the best backs in the NFL right now so they're going to be the best judge of the Chiefs run defense improvements.