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The Chiefs defense made many changes against Seattle, yet failed once again

Bob Sutton throws the kitchen sink at the Seahawks, to no avail.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs had their second consecutive opportunity to wrap up the AFC West — this week with the No. 1 seed in the balance — with a win on Sunday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks.

And for the second straight week, they weren’t able to get the job done.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton made multiple changes, benching Ron Parker and Orlando Scandrick for Daniel Sorensen and Charvarius Ward. Kendall Fuller’s absence thrust rookie Tremon Smith into the mix. He broke tendencies, threw out some atypical coverage shells and adjusted his pass rush strategy.

The Chiefs still didn’t get the job done.

This week — as I do every week — I’ll break down the numbers from this week’s game. We’ll hit the highlights, find where the Chiefs won, lost and bucked trends and then we’ll move on to some clips of their good, bad and under-the-radar plays.

The numbers

Quarter/Down/Distance - Week 16

- 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 Avg Week 16 Success
- 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 Avg Week 16 Success
Q1 5.71 52.10% 5.60 50.00%
Q2 5.76 51.00% 4.20 60.00%
Q2-Under 2:00 5.75 56.94% 6.25 50.00%
Q3 6.39 51.09% 6.90 55.00%
Q4 5.88 54.49% 9.50 50.00%
Q4-Under 2:00 6.00 56.25% N/A N/A
1st Down 6.33 52.58% 5.47 64.71%
2nd Down 5.85 49.85% 8.38 41.67%
3rd Down 4.70 58.56% 6.00 46.15%
4th Down 6.60 40.00% N/A N/A
Yds remain 0-3 4.39 33.56% 2.50 37.50%
Yds remain 4-6 5.04 49.28% 3.27 54.55%
Yds remain 7-10 6.29 54.42% 6.68 58.54%
Yds remain 11+ 6.94 71.28% 16.13 25.00%

Quarter by quarter, the success numbers don’t look that bad. The second quarter was obviously their best performance, getting put in a good situation after a Damien Williams touchdown and coming up with a stop. However, those numbers just speak to the bipolar nature of the Chiefs defense this year.

Looking at the down-and=distance splits shows the boom-or-bust nature of the team. Getting good results on first down — a 64 percent success rate — set the team up for more second/third-and-long situations. Those situations were completely toxic this week, with the Chiefs giving up 16.13 yards per play on distances of 11 yards or more. 75 percent of those situations for the Seahawks resulted in a chunk play to get to third-and-manageable or resulted in a first down.

Normally teams would panic in situations of third-and-11 or more. Over the past four weeks, the Chiefs defense has been the remedy for that situation.

Defensive Formation - Week 16

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
1-4 0.73% 8.75 62.50% 0.00% N/A N/A
2-3 15.01% 4.88 58.18% 2.63% 3.50 50.00%
2-4 52.87% 5.82 49.23% 50.00% 6.63 51.35%
3-3 7.46% 4.54 47.56% 18.42% 6.29 66.67%
3-4 22.02% 6.05 43.80% 26.32% 5.80 50.00%
4-3 1.00% 0.27 63.64% 2.63% 1.00 50.00%
4-4 0.73% 0.38 50.00% 0.00% N/A N/A

With the Seahawks being a run-heavy team, it’s no surprise that we saw more of the Chiefs three-down linemen, three-linebacker nickel this week. It’s becoming more prevalent over the past four weeks, as there has been some success there.

The Seahawks ran out of 11 personnel quite a bit, hence the sub package splits this week. When then did go to two back or two/three tight end formations, the Chiefs countered with their 3-4 defense, as usual.

Rush Numbers - Week 16

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
Rush 3 10.82% 5.36 48.72% 4.88% 14.50 50.00%
Rush 4 72.12% 6.18 51.15% 43.90% 5.67 52.94%
Rush 5-6 16.92% 5.25 51.64% 51.22% 8.67 41.18%

Without a doubt, the number one complaint that I hear about Sutton’s defense is that he doesn’t send extra rushers often enough. If that’s your complaint, this week is for you. A staggering 51.2 percent of the passing downs this week were rushes of five or more defenders. On those plays, they gave up big yardage and had a 41 percent success rate. Quite simply, the strategy didn’t work.

By sending extra rushers so often this week, Sutton left Ward and Smith on islands too often. Even with Eric Berry back deep, the Seahawks were regularly able to attack the sidelines due to Russell Wilson’s mobility and deep ball passing.

The Chiefs did drop an outside linebacker on 24.3 percent of the passing downs to help counter some of these blitzes and protect the flats. Those situations also gave up over eight yards a snap and had just a 40 percent success rate.

Coverages - Week 16

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 16 % Week 16 YPP Week 16 Success
Man 56.59% 5.97 49.75% 78.05% 7.44 46.88%
Zone 43.00% 5.90 52.90% 21.95% 8.33 22.22%

With two new corners this week, the Chiefs decided to play more man than trying to lean on some of the more complicated match zone concept that Sutton runs. While those were still seen on occasion, the Chiefs mainly leaned on their Cover 1 man defense this week — over 50 percent of the passing snaps.

Where Sutton threw an extra wrinkle in was using Cover 0 the second most of any of the coverage shells this week. Taking a bit of a page out of the Baltimore Ravens book, Sutton tossed out more looks without a deep safety than he has in a game this season — especially at the end of the game when the Chiefs needed a stop. Obviously, that didn’t work out as well as he would have hoped.

(The honorary Chris Jones) Something good

We’re officially to the point where Chris Jones is the shining beacon of light in the darkness that is the Chiefs defense. Time and time again, he’s making crucial plays and coming up with big stops to put teams in bad situations. What some don’t recognize is how consistent his pressure is this year. He set up shop in the Seahawks backfield this week, and if this most of the other quarterbacks in the NFL outside of Wilson, Jones would’ve been able to chalk up a sack or two more to his name.

There’s simply not much more to say this year. Jones is hands down the Chiefs defensive MVP, and in weeks like this week, he’s the true bright spot on a bad defense.

Something bad

We’re all aware of the badly miscommunicated “banjo” call on the two-point conversion against the Los Angeles Chargers last week, but there were more this week with all the new pieces.

Steven Nelson and Smith don’t set up the proper call, and when Smith follows the slot receiver vertical up the boundary, Nelson sheds his man and follows suit. This leaves a wide open receiver just shy of the stick with room to run. Pressure up the gut from Reggie Ragland and around the outside from Justin Houston force Wilson to recognize it late and throw it in the dirt.

Whatever the “banjo” terminology for the Chiefs secondary currently is, it needs to either change or the Chiefs players need hearing aids. Far, far too often we see blown coverages because players are expecting a switch or end up switching to leave others wide open. It’s been a clear problem on the rare opportunities they do banjo this year, and it seems like a simple fix.

Ward had a performance to forget this week. Allowing 10.9 yards per target and having an 18.2 percent success rate isn’t how he wanted to start his time with the Chiefs. However, he wasn’t always put in the right alignment this week, with Sutton playing him in off-man coverage for too many snaps.

While his play above didn’t hurt the Chiefs, it’s a situation where his lack of comfort in off-man coverage shows. Not playing with outside leverage to direct the route to the safety causes him to get his hips flipped and he ends up behind the play. Ward is a press-man corner and he should be used like one as often as possible.

Something you may have missed

I harped on the effort level last week, and we saw it happen on multiple snaps again this week — with the one above being one of the more egregious offenses.

Houston had a pretty good game against a bad backup right tackle, making a couple run stops, creating pressure and netting a sack. However, he’s one of the highest paid players on the team and expected to be a major presence in that locker room. Plays like this not only hurt your team on the field, but also they set a horrible example for the younger crowd — especially if there’s no accountability from the coaching staff for something like this.

I know that guys take plays off — lean on the offensive tackle for a down or two to catch their breath when the play is going away from them — but when the play is directly at your gap up against the goal line, and the running back has the ball in the arm nearest to you? I would hope for better effort than this.

The bottom line

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Truly, what more is there to say about the defense that hasn’t already been said this season?

We all know the faults. They can’t stop the run. Outside of a Chris Jones-led pass rush, they struggle to stop the pass. Coverages are blown, tackles are missed and the effort is getting worse by the week.

Sutton tried to implement changes this week. Orlando Scandrick and Ron Parker appear to be in the doghouse. Sutton rushed extra players more this week than any other week in the season. It didn’t work.

The young corners were picked on all day, extending drives through big completions and penalties. The blitz was beaten with Wilson able to escape the pocket or throw the ball quickly on the inexperienced coverage defenders. Eric Berry continued to line up 20 yards deep in single-high coverages — something that before last week’s game was a rarity, opting for 10-15 yard depths.

It feels a little like Sutton is in “panic mode” with the decisions he made this week, though. Was it a good decision to give Ward and Smith more of a look as the corners faltered down the stretch? Sure, I can see that. But in Week 16 with a chance to wrap up the No. 1 seed? The timing of it seemed poor. With the execution and communication on the field between those players, it also seemed like they were ill-prepared.

The Chiefs should get by a bad Oakland Raiders team this week, wrapping up the No. 1 seed and home-field throughout the playoffs. If Sutton is really hitting the “panic” button, he needs to make sure his players know what they’re doing before they get to the playoffs.

That defense we saw on Sunday night isn’t one that can take them where they want to go in the postseason.

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