Through the first two games of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ rushing defense is ranked dead last in the NFL.
So far this season the Chiefs have had the worst rush defense in the NFL.— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) September 22, 2021
They are averaging giving up—
202 yards per game
3.5 rushing TD’s
6.0 yards per carry.
That puts them on pace to give up 3434 yards and 59.5 rushing TD’s on the year. pic.twitter.com/EHiXfDogN5
That’s not just bad. That’s Charles Barkley-level turrible.
When the team inked former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed to a one-year deal worth 5.5 million in the offseason, the move was widely hailed as a steal for general manager Brett Veach and his team. In Seattle, Reed had developed a reputation as an assignment-sound run defender who had some upside as a pass rusher.
So on paper, a defensive front of Frank Clark, Derrick Nnadi, Chris Jones and Reed seemed formidable — but thus far, things have not worked out as expected. Speaking on Wednesday, Reed didn’t pull any punches.
“You know, we’re pissed off,” he told reporters about the team’s defensive play against the Ravens. “It was not to our standards. And we have very high standards — trust me. We’ve got to keep our heads up. We know who we are — and [we’re] going to stand on that.”
Reed said part of the issue is that the defense is still working on gelling as a unit.
“We’re not where we want to be at,” he said. “[We’re] still fairly new, all of us playing together. We’ve got a long way to go.”
But Reed also noted there is a lot of time to get that done.
“We’ve got 15 more games, plus [the] playoffs,” he added. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be there. We will get better as we go. We’re not going to hold our heads down. We will keep getting better each and every day. We’re going to stop the run, and we’re going to rush the passer and get some sacks.”
That’s been a big part of the problem. Through the first two games, the Chiefs have accumulated just three sacks. On Sunday night, Kansas City struggled to get consistent pressure on Lamar Jackson — and when they did, they couldn’t get home. Things weren’t much better during their Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns.
But in the NFL, there isn’t time to lick your wounds. Reed — now in his sixth NFL season — knows that very well.
“We’re not holding our head down about it,” he noted. “We know we’ve got to be better. That’s what we’re going to do. You know, we’re going to get back to practice and do that, and we’re going to strive to get off blocks — and each game, we’ll get better.”
His head coach tended to agree.
“I think we’ll get things worked out,” said Reid of the team’s defensive struggles. “They’re hard workers. Good locker room. Good coaches.”
Reid also pointed out that since the team has lost so few games in recent years, every loss seems to be magnified.
“We haven’t lost a lot,” he said. “So you get a loss and it’s the end of the world.”
But Reid said that it still only means they need to find — and solve — the defensive problems.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, make sure we get things straightened out and work on those things. But [it’s] not the end of the world.”
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes said that he has zero concern that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his players will get it figured out.
“I have full trust in that defense,” he said on Wednesday. “We’ve got players out there that made plays for us for a couple of years now. We have a lot of talented guys that are interjoined [into] that group of guys. And with Spags running that show — and the history that he’s had of coaching up defenses — I’m sure they’ll continue to get better.”
They’ll need to do it — and do it quickly. Reed noted that when the Los Angeles Chargers come to town this Sunday, the Chiefs will face a dynamic dual-threat running back: Austin Ekeler.
“He’s a total three-down back,” observed the defensive tackle. “You know he can run the ball well, he can catch the ball in the backfield [and] they can get him the ball with screens. I’m pretty sure they’re going to try to get the ball to him — based on what we’ve put on film for the past two games.”
Sunday will definitely be another challenge for the Chiefs’ defense.