In four of these, Ford was also able to strip the ball from the quarterback; two of those came against the Broncos on Sunday. Statistics say that when a ball is fumbled, both teams have an almost identical chance to recover it. That’s held true in Ford’s forced fumbles this season; not all of these strip-sacks have resulted in turnovers for the Chiefs.
But since a sack resulting in a turnover is one of the biggest game-changers a defense can achieve, the fact that Ford is getting strip-sacks at a high rate has been a big factor in the effectiveness of the Chiefs defense.
Sunday’s game was a perfect example. One of Ford’s strip-sacks — the one that did result in a turnover — happened early in the fourth quarter. At the end of the third, the Broncos had scored a touchdown to close within 10 points of the Chiefs. Then Patrick Mahomes was intercepted, giving the ball to the Broncos in good field position at their own 39-yard line. There was still plenty of time in the game. The momentum was on Denver’s side. But four plays later, Ford pulled the plug.
Speaking after the game on Sunday, Ford said that it’s not that he’s suddenly learned how to strip the ball. It’s just that’s he finally gotten better at it.
“We’ve all known the technique,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting better at it, and executing. We all worked at it since college — maybe high school. The way this league has gone — the evolution of football — we are working it in high school. It’s just a matter of execution and just being more efficient.”
Ford also denied that he has a different gear for strip-sacks.
“No. you can’t say that. I’d be lying if I said I did. You have to rush each time like you want to get there. There were times I won when there wasn’t a sack, so you just never know when he’s going to hold it, and when everything is going to work itself out.”
Ford’s teammate Tanoh Kpassagnon says that Ford’s speed and lightning-quick first step — traits he displayed even in college, which attracted the attention of the Chiefs — still play a big role in his success.
“He is different. He has that advantage to him,” Kpassagnon said. “Guys, off the jump, are scared of him. They are always jumping back trying to run with him. Guys assume I’m slow so sometimes I can get them. Dee is just different.”
Head coach Andy Reid is pleased with Ford’s success.
“It’s great to see because he has worked so hard to be back where he can play and be strong enough to endure a season,” Reid said after the game. “You are pulling for him. Those are the guys you pull for. I am glad he is having success. Like everyone in this room, we are glad he’s doing his thing. For the kid, the hours he has spent in the training room getting himself back, I am happy as can be for him.”
As we noted three weeks ago, sacks are just one part of Ford’s game. Among NFL edge rushers, he remains one of the best pass rushers in the league. Since this performance is coming in a contract year — and Ford’s Kansas City career has been checkered, to say the least — it likely means the Chiefs will have a difficult decision to make about Ford in 2019.
For now, though, Chiefs fans are liking what they see.