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Bob Sutton isn’t going anywhere - and here’s why

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It’s fair to criticize the Chiefs defensive coordinator. But calling for his firing is just crazy talk.

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We’ve all had our fun now.

We’ve spent the last couple of days ranting about how awful the Kansas City Chiefs defense is going to be in 2018 thanks to its anemic performance against the Chicago Bears in a preseason 27-20 loss on Saturday afternoon.

We’ve shouted from the rooftops about how our first-string defense couldn’t handle Chase Daniel and the second-string Bears offense, how David Amerson is hot garbage, Orlando Scandrick is washed up and Bob Sutton should have been fired years ago.

Here’s the first problem with this narrative: it was a preseason game. Let’s stop acting like it means anything, because it really doesn’t.

Here’s the second one: on Saturday, the Chiefs defense in no way, shape or form represented its first string. Eric Berry and Steven Nelson didn’t play at all. Justin Houston and Dee Ford had 11 snaps each. Chris Jones had six.

I’m not prepared to argue that David Amerson or Orlando Scandrick are anything more than backups — and on Monday, when Steven Nelson returned to practice after clearing concussion protocol, that’s exactly what they became.

That leaves Bob Sutton. Whoo, boy. Bob Sutton.

The Chiefs defensive coordinator has been a lightning rod for criticism ever since he arrived in 2013. You’ve heard it. He’s old. The game has passed him by. He’s too soft. He can’t adjust. He only has his job because Andy Reid is famously loyal to his friends.

I’ll be happy to agree that in certain games — even in certain seasons — over the past five years, some of those criticisms are justified. No NFL coach is perfect in every game, and Sutton doesn’t get a pass.

But Bob Sutton has a job for a reason: because over the five seasons he’s been in Kansas City, he’s been running one of the most effective defenses in the NFL.

The true measure of any defense is how many points it allows — and in the NFL from 2013 through 2017, the Chiefs rank third in points allowed.

Let that sink in for a second.

Would you like to know how many times Marty Shottenheimer’s vaunted defenses from the early 1990s had a five-year period where they ranked top three in points allowed?

None.

They came close from from 1989-1993 and from 1990-1994 — when they ranked fourth — but that’s it.

In fact, the last time the Chiefs franchise had such a sustained run of defensive success was from 1967 through 1973, when they had three consecutive five-year stretches in which they ranked third in points allowed.

I’m well aware — and you should be, too — that in 2017, the Chiefs only ranked 15th in points allowed. Should that continue in 2018, then it will be fair to wonder if Sutton has lost his touch.

Unless and until that occurs, it’s perfectly reasonable to criticize Sutton. There will undoubtedly be moments where it will be justified.

But put away the torches and pitchforks. Bob Sutton isn’t going anywhere.