Kansas City Chiefs – Defense is the Most Important Thing

There’s Alex Smith, back to not making mistakes, but not playing very well. There’s Jamaal Charles, but Andy Reid has never been about the running game unless he has to go to it. The Kansas City Chiefs are about defense, first and foremost, and that’s the unit they’ll be relying on to keep this perfect season start alive.

In a 24-7 over the Oakland Raiders, improving to 6-0, the Chiefs recorded 10 sacks against the non-existent Oakland Raiders offensive line. Right now they’re on pace to reach 83 sacks this season which will set a new NFL record, breaking the Bears’ current one from 1984 of 72. It’s also equaling their total from the entire 2008 season, and have already gotten to the quarterback more times this season (31 sacks in 6 games) than they did last year in 16 games (27 sacks).

Derrick Johnson

The Chiefs simply took Terrelle Pryor out of the pocket and had him running for his life. He finished with 18-of-34 for 216 yards, throwing a touchdown but also 3 interceptions. He also ran for 60 yards on 6 carries, but it’s impossible to succeed with such a mismatch between one offensive line facing that kind of pass rush, and it might also be a hint that the Raiders cut their ties with Matt Flynn a little bit too soon.

The Chiefs pretty much penetrated the O-line at will, disrupting a Pryor dropback 17 out of 47 times, sending at least five pass rushers on almost half of his dropbacks, something Pryor has never seen before in his career. They also relied heavily on a pass rush with a defensive back, holding Pryor to 0-for-2 with an interception and five sacks when rushing a defensive back.

The Raiders allowed 10 sacks, committed 11 penalties and turned the ball over 3 times in their loss at the Chiefs on Sunday. The last team to allow 10 sacks, commit 10 penalties and turn the ball over 3 times was the Raiders, against the Chiefs, in 1998. It was also the 7th time since 2000 that a team sacked a quarterback 10 times.

Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles

How about their offense? Nothing special, and probably less than average. Alex Smith has been bad the last few games, no longer enjoying his efficient start to the season. He isn’t throwing any turnovers, but there comes a point when teams learn how to handle a defense and its blitzing schemes, and Smith will have to start finding some kind of rhythm. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three of his last four games, and is completing only 56.5% of his passes this season, including only 48.5% over the last two games.

Reid will be relying more and more on Jamaal Charles if this continues, which isn’t a bad thing. The Chiefs don’t have too many reliable passing targets, getting everyone to shove Tony Gonzalez down their throats. Charles himself finished with 78 yards on 22 carries, running for two touchdowns, including the only one of the third quarter, giving the Chiefs the lead for the first time in the game.

The Chiefs’ offense does need better receivers, but probably a better quarterback as well. There’s only so much you can do with a guy that the offensive playbook is consists mostly of low-risk plays, because anything more complicated will result in disaster. The cards that have been dealt mean the Chiefs just have to keep riding Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, hoping that the best pass rushing linebacker crew in the NFL will be enough to keep them winning at this pace.