Coming off a huge comeback season under the helm of Andy Reid, the Kansas City Chiefs look to be the primary competitor in the AFC West to Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. The offense proved to be partly spastic last season, but greatly leaned on the play of All-Pro running back, Jamaal Charles. They didn’t add any receivers in the draft, which was a surprise, but I think they can hold their own. Now, we turn to the defense. In the great run last year that saw the Chiefs reel off nine wins to start the season, their defense was vital. Although it had some relatively easy matchups, they stepped up and were difficult to score on. However, in their playoff game vs Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, they were let down by their defense. Alex Smith did his job despite Charles getting hurt early, but the defense couldn’t get any stops late. Some of this definitely had to do with injuries. With this said, the Chiefs haven’t been shy in making bold moves that will define the next season. Under second-year defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, this how the Chiefs defense currently looks:
Left Defensive End: Vance Walker, Mike Catapano
Nose Tackle: Dontari Poe
Right Defensive End: Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey
Left Outside Linebacker: Justin Houston, Frank Zombo
Left Inside Linebacker: Joe Mays, Nico Johnson
Right Inside Linebacker: Derrick Johnson, James-Michael Johnson
Right Outside Linebacker: Tamba Hali, Dee Ford
Left Cornerback: Marcus Cooper, Chris Owens
Strong Safety: Eric Berry, Jerron McMillian
Free Safety: Husain Abdullah, Sanders Commings
Right Cornerback: Sean Smith, Phillip Gaines, Ron Parker
*Starters are in bold
There have already been a few major headlines stemming solely from this side of the ball for Kansas City. One of the major ones was the release of Pro-Bowl corner Brandon Flowers. Since being a second round pick in 2008 out of Virginia Tech, Flowers has been a staple on the Chiefs defense. However, under Bob Sutton, his role seemed to diminish. The 5-10 cornerback had always played outside, usually on the opposing team’s number one receiver, but last year, he spent most of his time in the slot. As a result, he was just too expensive to be a slot corner. This is definitely a bold move, as I have always been a strong supporter of Flowers’ ability. Not only this, but it leaves the Chiefs secondary very thin. While Sean Smith is a proven starter, some off the field issues (DUI) create some questions. On the other side, Marcus Cooper is the expected starter. In his first year with the Chiefs, he experienced plenty of ups and downs. You can’t say for sure what he will do. The other major headline was the drafting of Dee Ford in the first round. There is no doubting the Chiefs current edge rushers (Hali and Houston), so why would they spend a first round selection on a position they have filled, when there are greater needs, such as receiver. The answer can be looked at a few perspectives. First, in the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl-winning season, they showed you can never have too many pass rushers. Also, chances are the Chiefs will lose either Justin Houston or Tamba Hali next offseason due to the heavy price tags. This rookie season for Dee Ford will allow him to work on his game by learning under two of the NFL’s best outside linebackers.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense entering the 2014-2015 season. It will be interesting whether Bob Sutton can recreate the defensive magic that led the Chiefs to a 9-0 start last season.