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Charles Omenihu has hit his stride in December

The veteran pass rusher has mad his presence known over the course of the month

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

While December was an up-and-down month for the Kansas City Chiefs, pass rusher Charles Omenihu has quietly put together one of the best months of any player on the team.

In his five games leading up to December, Omenihu had just one and a half sacks. But this month, he’s had sacks in four straight games. During December, he’s shown his ability to rush on both the inside and outside — and has become a valuable contributor in Kansas City’s defensive line rotation.

As the regular season comes to a close, Omenihu is ramping up

Twist games

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has done a great job of utilizing Omenihu’s versatility as a pass rusher. Since he can line up anywhere, he’s helped make it hard for offenses to gauge what the Chiefs are going to do. This has also allowed him to be very effective in twist games and other stunts that have been a big part of the Chiefs’ pressure plans.

During Monday’s game, Omenihu was able to tack another sack to his total by way of this play. In this well-timed tackle-edge twist, Mike Danna penetrates first as Omenihu loops behind him, working back into the A gap and coming away with the sack. The quarterback has to step up to avoid the outside pressure from Chris Jones — but at the last second, Omenihu executes a great spin move to create the separation he needs to wrap up the quarterback.

On the edge

When he came to Kansas City, Omenihu was seen as more of an interior rusher — but since then, he has demonstrated his ability to rush from the outside.

Here, the New England Patriots use a play-action look to set up a passing play. The left tackle uses a jump set to sell the run — but Omenihu is quick with his read and recognizes the pass. As the tackle tries to engage, Omenihu quickly swats away his hands — and because the tackle is using a jump set, he has a great angle to bend the arc and get to the quarterback, nearly creating a turnover by knocking the ball out.

His motor off the edge has also proven valuable in obvious passing downs.

On this third-and-long, the Buffalo Bills are using double tight-end chip blocks out of and empty set. Omenihu works off one chip block and engages with the left tackle. As Josh Allen waits for his receivers to get open, Omenihu keeps attacking upfield. Eventually, he uses his arm length to create some separation between himself and the tackle — just as Allen moves the pocket to the left. But Omenihu is right there — and uses his power to bring down one of the league’s hardest-to-tackle quarterbacks and force a fourth down.

Run Defense

An aspect of Omenihu’s game that has been underlooked this season has been his run defense. His long frame and strong base have made him a perfect edge-setter in Spagnuolo’s defensive front.

On this play, Omenihu lines up on the back side of the zone run. The tight end attempts to base-block him, but the difference in strength and arm length is apparent. As the running back tries to make his cuts, Omenihu quickly disengages from the tight end and makes the stop for no gain.

This season, the Chiefs have allowed the league’s fifth-most yards per rushing attempt — and in the last four games, have allowed three teams to gain at least 100 yards. But with the contributions Omenihu has been making, the team can start to address the issues.

With many of the league’s top rushing offenses in the thick of the AFC playoff race — including the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos — it is likely the Chiefs will see one them in the playoffs. in the weeks to come, we can expect that Omenihu’s use on running downs to climb.

The bottom line

Omenihu is heating up at the right time — and will play a key role in helping the Kansas City defense continue to dominate in the postseason. Since Patrick Mahomes took over as the quarterback, the team has never had to rely on the defense more than it has this year.

Spagnuolo has likely been holding back some of the looks he thinks he can run in the postseason — and Omenihu will be heavily involved in these. With his budding edge-rushing abilities and positional versatility, it is likely Omenihu will build on his strong December with an even better January.

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