One of the only silver linings from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders was the effectiveness of the team’s pass defense. The unit held the Raiders’ passing attack to only 48 net yards — and after the first quarter, didn’t allow a single completion.
A large part of that was Chiefs’ cornerback L’Jarius Sneed claiming his next victim in a season-long campaign focused on limiting the NFL’s top receivers. Raiders’ wide receiver Davante Adams had six targets on Monday, catching one pass for four yards.
After 15 games, these performances are no longer a surprise. It’s why Kansas City cornerback Trent McDuffie agreed that Sneed is a player worthy of an All-Pro selection.
“When I look at what he’s doing,” noted the second-year corner on Thursday, “going against every No. 1 receiver [and] locking them down, I don’t think he has [allowed] 100 yards himself all year.”
In fact, according to Pro Football Reference, Sneed has allowed no more than 81 yards in any game this season — and through 15 games, has allowed just 452 yards to the receivers he’s covered. That’s just 30.1 yards per game. His 4.7 yards per target is tied with Denzel Ward for the league’s best mark among cornerbacks with at least 60 targets.
“[He’s] like a Darrelle Revis,” added McDuffie. “Someone you just put on an island and let them work.”
Any cornerback would be proud to be compared to the player who was dubbed “Revis Island.” At his peak in 2009, he held a gauntlet of No. 1 wide receivers to less than 35 receiving yards.
This is the list of receivers that have failed to reach that mark against the Chiefs this season:
- Calvin Ridley of the Jacksonville Jaguars
- Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings
- Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers
- A.J. Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles
- Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills
- Davante Adams of the Raiders
It has played a huge factor in the Chiefs ranking third in allowed passing yards this season. Sneed’s performance makes life easier for the rest of the group.
“When I look out to my right and I see LJ,” said McDuffie, “I’m like, ‘Okay cool. He’s lockdown. Let’s see what else we have to work around.’
“He is also one of those guys that just takes over a game. He doesn’t have to say much — he’s not ‘Rah Rah’ — [but] you just know he’s going to lock in and do his job. You have to love to have players like that.”
Does this make Sneed the best cornerback in the NFL?
“I think so — right now,” allowed McDuffie. “Bias or not, I think he has gone out there and proven it, week in and week out. From the past years, he has played all over the field, so you can just turn on the tape and look at 38 to know he’s going to be out there doing exactly what he needs to do.”
While “Sneed Island” has been a pillar of the Kansas City defense in 2022, he isn’t guaranteed to be a part of the game plan against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Sneed missed Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices with a calf strain. Meanwhile, the Bengals’ star receiver Ja’Marr Chase is dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Bengals’ last game; Chase did not practice on Wednesday — but returned to the field on Thursday.
Ja’Marr Chase had quite the edge after practice today addressing reporters. Said Chiefs don’t have anyone that stands out on defense. “It’s not really like have a Jalen Ramsey on their squad.” pic.twitter.com/1kurBwcOLF— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) December 28, 2023
On Thursday, Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he was “hopeful” that Sneed would be able to play. If both end up playing, Sneed would play a key role in slowing Chase down. The Bengals’ star wideout has burned Kansas City before, which could be why he doesn’t see Sneed — or anybody — in the Chiefs’ secondary as a threat.
If Sneed is able to play, he’ll be more than happy to provide evidence to the contrary.