Through the Kansas City Chiefs’ first eight games of the season, their defense was a nightmare for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. The Chiefs registered 36 sacks in those eight contests, an average of almost five per game.
Over Kansas City’s last two games, however, that number has dropped to zero. The Chiefs haven’t had any injuries on the defensive side, so why the sudden and significant drop in production?
Giving credit where credit is due
A lot of credit should go to the offensive lines of both the Buffalo Bills (ironically the NFL’s new team sacks leader at 37) and Denver Broncos. Offensive line coaches Jim O’Neil and Mike Klis were able to get their players in position to stifle the Chiefs’ pass rush completely.
Looking at the stats, the Broncos have allowed the second-fewest quarterback sacks this season. However, the offensive lines of Buffalo and Denver don’t tell the whole story.
Credit should also go to Buffalo and Denver offensive coordinators Nate Hackett and Adam Gase for scheming around the Kansas City pass rush. The Bills and Broncos both ran a lot of plays designed to move the pocket away from pressure and get the ball out of the quarterbacks’ hands quickly. The Chiefs’ inability to stop the run has also played into the sacks going AWOL.
Failure to execute
The Bills and Broncos ran for a combined 345 yards against the Kansas City defense, now ranked 20th in the NFL against the run. Allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry has forced the Chiefs to adjust their scheme and back off the pass rush in order to try and limit the damage. A final reason for the absence of a pass rush is the most frustrating for Kansas City fans.
Besides all the stellar offensive line play, the scheming and the vulnerability against the run, it simply comes down to execution for the Chiefs. Many times in the last two games Kansas City’s pass rushers have had opportunities and failed to take advantage of them. Players like Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe have to win the one-on-one matchups when they get them.
It’s been two weeks since people in the Kansas City area have been able to buy Big Macs two-for-one on Monday because the Chiefs recorded a sack on Sunday. In order for Kansas City to get back to winning, the sacks have to return.