Though the Chiefs have played most of the season without Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry as well as defensive end Mike DeVito, they are ranked No. 3 in the NFL in overall defense, No. 1 in pass defense and No. 3 in points allowed.
The Chiefs are allowing just 18.0 points per game, and just 15.6 points per game in their last five games. They have yet to allow a 300-yard passing game or a rushing touchdown.
The Chiefs have counted on young players in the secondary such as safety Ron Parker, cornerback Jamell Fleming and rookie Phillip Gaines during the past few weeks, and that has made the No. 1 ranking in pass defense even more gratifying to coach Andy Reid.
“From the standpoint that we’re young, you’re never sure about exactly what that growth pattern is going to be,” said Reid. “First of all, is it going to take place, and how fast it will come about.
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“I’m pleasantly pleased with that. As a coach, you always have expectations, and I still think they have room to grow. But I had high expectations … to take these top pass offenses and compete against them.”
Most impressively, the defensive improvement has come against a gauntlet of a schedule that included road games against Denver’s Peyton Manning, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and San Diego’s Philip Rivers and a home game against New England’s Tom Brady.
“That makes you better and is going to make you play at the top of your game,” Reid said. “They’re going to challenge you every which way. This is a game of matchups. They’re going to match their guy on you, and you’ve got to be able to stand up and meet that challenge. And these guys have done that.”
The differing difference
In all seven games of the Chiefs’ games this season, the team that won the coin toss has deferred until the second half, including the Chiefs on Sunday against the Rams.
In the four games the Chiefs won the toss, here’s how they opened the second half: a fumble at Miami; a missed field goal at Denver; a field goal that drew them to within 14-13 at San Diego; and a 99-yard kickoff return by Knile Davis against St. Louis.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage,” said Reid. “You can go either way. Stats have shown that by a small margin it’s better to defer. One of the positives is you have an opportunity to evaluate what the defense is doing and how they’re trying to defend you as an offense for a half, and you get to come out and make those adjustments.”
Trade deadline approaches
The NFL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. Tuesday, but Reid said at mid-day he hadn’t heard from general manager John Dorsey if any deals were brewing.
“I know they’re pounding it,” said Reid of the personnel department. “Dorse stays on that like a wild man. Around these times, they’re in lock-down mode.”
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