Chiefs Andy Reid on the defense and coordinator day after loss
Bob Sutton has been fired as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator.
The move comes two days after the Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots 37-31 in overtime in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Bob is a good football coach and a great person,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday in a release from the team announcing the move. “He played an integral role in the success of our team over the last six seasons. I’ve said before that change can be a good thing, for both parties, and I believe that is the case here for the Chiefs and Bob. This was not an easy decision, but one I feel is in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs moving forward.”
Sutton won’t be part of the Chiefs staff in another role next season, a source confirmed to The Star.
The Chiefs defense ranked among the worst in the NFL this season. They finished 31st in the regular season in yards allowed (405.5), 24th in yards per play (5.85), and 24th in points per game (26.3).
In the playoff loss to the Patriots, the Chiefs were gashed for 176 rushing yards. It marked the third straight postseason exit — all at Arrowhead Stadium — in which a better seeded Chiefs team lost to an opponent that effectively ran the ball.
The Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell rushed for 170 yards in a divisional-round game in 2017, and the Titans’ Derrick Henry rushed for 156 in a 2018 wild-card game.
This season’s Chiefs defense had some strengths. It tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 52, although the Chiefs didn’t record one against the Patriots.
The Chiefs’ season ended when they couldn’t stop the Patriots in overtime. New England won the coin toss and drove 75 yards in 13 plays, converting on third-and-10 three times along the way.
One name that quickly surfaced as a possible candidate to replace Sutton, by ESPN’s Adam Schefter is Rex Ryan, the former Jets and Bills head coach and current ESPN analyst.
Another possiblity is Steve Spagnuolo, former Rams head coach and Giants and Saints defensive coordinator who was part of Reid’s original staff in Philadelphia.
Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard, a former Seahawks defensive coordinator who was recently interviewed for head coaching jobs, also could be considered.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith would seem to be the strongest in-house candidate. This was his sixth year as an NFL coach and he helped Dee Ford produce his best season as a pro.
Would the Chiefs consider a college coach? Clemson defensvie coordinator Brent Venables, the former Kansas State and Oklahoma assistant coming off a dominating performance against Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game, would be the strongest candidate from the college ranks.
Whoever gets the job will be walking into an enviable situation. The Chiefs have talent on the defensive side. End Chris Jones set an NFL record with sacks in 11 consecutive games. Ford made the Pro Bowl. They loom as offseason signing priorities, an extension of Jones’ rookie contract and perhaps a franchise tag for Ford.
A Patrick Mahomes-led offense also will be a benefit to the defense, as it was this year. The Chiefs finished 12-4 and led the NFL in points and yards per game. The Chiefs lost games this year in which they scored 40 and 51 points.
Sutton, 67, is an original member of Reid’s staff in Kansas City, joining the organization in 2013 after serving on the Jets staff since 2000. The Chiefs finished in the top seven in scoring defense in each of Sutton’s first four seasons, ranking second in 2014.