Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Don’t overlook the Chiefs’ biggest perceived weakness

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 28, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense has simply been unstoppable through the first three weeks of the season, putting up a league-high 39.3 points per game.

On the other hand, on the surface, their defense has not been able to stop anyone, giving up over 30 points per game, the third-worst mark in the NFL.

But as with many things in life, the surface-level view can be misleading.

And when it comes to the Chiefs’ defense, there’s a strong argument to be made that that’s the case.

“When you’re ahead by that much early in the game—at half time they had 35 points against San Francisco. When you’re ahead by that much, most teams play more bend-don’t-break [defense],” Denver Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph explained, making a case for the Chiefs’ defense.

That’s precisely what’s happened, too.

Thanks to Patrick Mahomes and Company, Kansas City has jumped on teams early and often in games, putting up a combined 49 points in the first quarter in the first three games.

But what’s just as impressive as their offense’s 49 first-quarter points is the defense has only surrendered a total of six points in the first quarter in all three games. That’s an average of two points allowed per first quarter.

To put that in perspective, the Broncos have done fine in the first quarter, outscoring their opponents 21-20. But the Chiefs have absolutely dominated their opponents, outscoring them 49-6 in the first quarter.

In fact, the Chiefs have never trailed in all 180 minutes of football they’ve played this season. Not for a single second.

“It’s going to be a challenge to start fast,” Joseph said, emphasizing how it’s the Chiefs’ entire team that gets off to hot starts.

“When you watch them on tape, it’s a good defense, they have good players, but they’re ahead by so much. Sometimes when you’re ahead, and you’re playing bend-don’t-break defense, you give up yards because you don’t want to give up big plays. Their defense is pretty stout.”

Once the Chiefs take a significant lead on their opponent, their bend-don’t-break approach takes over at the same time their opponents are forced to abandon the run game and turn solely to the air.

Both of those factors play at least a partial role in them allowing a league-worst 362.7 passing yards per game.

But one aspect of their defense that doesn’t go away as the game moves on is their third-down defense, adding another element to their bend-don’t-break approach.

“We’re actually doing OK on third downs. That’s a pretty important down,” Reid said on Thursday to the Denver media. “We’ve given up some yards, but, again, we’ve also made some plays. We’ve started games pretty good.”

In classic veteran-coach form, Reid completely downplayed the success of his defense on third down.

“They’re great on third downs. They’re first in the league on third downs,” Joseph said, emphasizing the challenge on the other side of the ball that no one is talking about.

On third downs this year, the Broncos’ defense has been stout, holding opposing offenses to only covering 34.2 percent of third downs.

But the Chiefs have made that look like child’s play, holding opposing teams to a league-best 25.8 percent success rate.

As to the key to their league-leading success getting off the field on third down, Reid said, “Can’t tell you,” with a chuckle, adding, “Getting off the field, that’s important.”

On top of a bend-don’t-break philosophy, Reid credits the unassuming defensive stats to the roster overhaul on that side of the ball.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces there, and they’re all getting used to playing with each other,” Reid said, showing full confidence in his defense. “I think they’ve gotten better every week and they work their tail off, which is a beautiful thing.”

At the end of the day, however, the Chiefs’ defense hasn’t proven to be world-beaters as they’ve still given up plenty of points and yards.

But Monday night’s not going to be as easy of a task for Case Keenum and Bill Musgrave as it initially appears on the surface.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?