For Pete's Sake

NBC analyst explains why he believes Chiefs’ defense will be better in 2019

After just missing out on a trip to the Super Bowl last season, the Chiefs haven’t been content to tweak things.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was fired and Steve Spagnuolo hired in his place. The Chiefs have bid farewell to pass-rushers Dee Ford and Justin Houston, along with cornerback Steven Nelson and safety Eric Berry. New members of the defense include safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor.

Mike Florio and Chris Simms of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, discussed the moves on Tuesday. Florio noted that the Chiefs’ league-leading 52 sacks didn’t amount to much in the end.

Simms said as more succinct: “It didn’t do crap, right?”

In fact, Simms said there wasn’t much the Chiefs did well on defense in 2018.

“The thing with the Kansas City Chiefs is their defense, it wasn’t good at anything last year other than sacks, yes, because a lot of the times, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid and that offense would get out to a lead to where Dee Ford, Justin Houston, all they had to worry about was rushing the passer,” Simms said. “There was nothing else to worry about. But when the games were equal or even, they couldn’t really stop anything. They couldn’t cover anybody on the back end, they messed up things schematically as far as rules and things like that, and then they couldn’t stop the run to go along with it.

“I think the one thing we’re seeing is where they might not be as good rushing off the edge, I think they are maybe putting a little more eggs in the basket of let’s be bigger up front and more physical and maybe take away the run game and we’ll push the pocket instead of trying to get Dee Ford and Justin Houston around the edge to annoy quarterbacks.”

Earlier in their chat, Simms said he liked the new players the Chiefs have added to the defense. He believes the unit will be better this fall.

“Did they do enough? Yes, I like their improvements, I do, even though they are not like huge, superstar improvements,” Simms said. “Alex Okafor is a really good edge outside linebacker/defense end type of a guy who’s good against the run and he’s a good pass rusher, but not a great pass rusher.

“Again, Bashaud Breeland at corner, I think that does help the secondary. Let’s not forget that Breeland was going to sign a big free-agent contract last year, and had a toe or toe issue that kind of canceled everything out when he went and got his physical, and then he kind of had to sign a one-year prove it deal.

“And then with the Honey Badger (Mathieu), I like that too on the defensive side of the ball. I think the offense is fine, I’m not worried about anything over there even though I know they lost Mitch Morse and all that. But the defense, I do think the moves they’re making will help their football team.”

Here is talk between Florio and Simms (if the video doesn’t play, click or tap this link):

Related stories from Kansas City Star

From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.