There are nine games in the books — with eight more to go. The Kansas City Chiefs are taking their bye week in Week 10, so it’s a good time to dish out some midseason awards.
The Arrowhead Pride writing staff members each had one vote for our seven midseason awards. There are 17 contributors voting, so there will be 17 votes tallied for each award. In this post, we’ll reveal our MVP to this point of the season.
DC STEVE SPAGNUOLO
VOTING: DC Steve Spagnuolo (9), CB Trent McDuffie (3), TE Travis Kelce (2), QB Patrick Mahomes (2), DT Chris Jones (1)
Steve Spagnuolo has largely met expectations for his first four years in Kansas City.
In 2018, Patrick Mahomes’ first season as the starting quarterback, the Chiefs combined the league’s most prolific offense with among the most inept defenses. For the 2019 season, Spagnuolo was hired to replace the embattled defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. His charge: put together a competent, if not spectacular, squad that would provide sufficient cushion for Mahomes’ heroics to win games.
The Chiefs made the right decision, bringing the longtime playcaller for the New York Giants and former St. Louis Rams head coach.
Though Spagnuolo’s decision-making was frequently questioned, the hire paid instant dividends, with the Chiefs’ winning the Super Bowl his first season in Kansas City. During Spagnuolo’s tenure — which has now seen two title wins — the Chiefs finished in the top half of the league for scoring defense each season, providing the perfect compliment to a high-scoring defense.
Even so, the Chiefs’ defense has seemed to follow a cycle of struggling early before a respectable close to the season with the kinks worked out ahead of the postseason.
This season, however, the tables have turned, and Spagnuolo’s defense is the main reason behind the Chiefs’ AFC-leading 7-2 start. Their 15.9 points per game allowed is second on the league — and suddenly necessary with the team’s offense off to a somewhat pedestrian start.
Spagnuolo came to Kansas City with a reputation for putting veteran options on the field with a high bar for young players to earn snaps. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach largely took the decision out of the coach’s hands with offseason moves. 12 regular contributors for the 2023 Chiefs’ defense are on rookie contracts, with many taking major strides this season.
Edge-rushers George Karlaftis and Mike Danna have 11.5 of the Chiefs’ 31 sacks — currently second most in the league.
After helping the Chiefs win their second title in four seasons as rookies, second-year defensive backs Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook, Joshua Wiliams, and Jaylen Watson have come on strong this season. Kansas City is currently tied for third with 6.1 yards allowed per opponent passing attempt.
The Chiefs did not make many splash moves with defense this offseason, but veteran signings such as safety Mike Edwards, linebacker Drue Tranquill, and defensive end Charles Omenihu have filled key roles. The combination of homegrown talent and strategic additions from other teams has allowed Spagnuolo to seemingly put the most advantageous 11 players on the field at almost any time. His preference for unpredictable blitz schemes has shown with linebackers and defensive backs combining for 10.5 sacks.
After the Chiefs held the Miami Dolphins — arguably the most feared offense in the NFL in 2023 — to only 14 points, Spagnuolo’s performance will no longer be under the radar for the season’s second half. Should the Chiefs continue their current path — with the offense unfathomably complimenting the defense — the major question after the season may become if the longtime defensive mind will get a second head coaching opportunity.
Who is your Chiefs’ bye-week MVP?
This poll is closed