Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Chiefs have many pass-rush options
By Adam Teicher
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you're a fan of what now seems like ancient history, the Kansas City Chiefs had 10 sacks in all of 2008. If you prefer your history more recent, the Chiefs sacked the opposing quarterback 27 times last season.
Either way, it's a long way to 2013. The Chiefs lead the league in sacks with 31 and they are on a pace to break the NFL record of 72 set by the Chicago Bears in 1984.
Justin Houston is tied for the NFL lead with 9.5 sacks and the Chiefs lead the league with 31.
The Chiefs have a lot of ground to cover if they're to catch those Bears. Whether they get there or not, it's already been a dramatic turnaround in pass-rush fortunes.
Maybe the most interesting thing about this pass rush is that all of the key components (linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and linemen Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson) were in place before this season. Among the 31 sacks, all but 2.5 have been delivered by players who were with the Chiefs last season.
That speaks to the schemes brought to the Chiefs by new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
"I knew about those two (Hali and Houston)," said coach Andy Reid, who joined the Chiefs in January. "I knew they could rush the passer. Now, Dontari added into that? Somebody that can play as stout as he plays in a two-gap scheme inside and then be able to pass rush? That was another dimension I didn't expect. The push that (Tyson) Jackson gets, I didn't necessarily see that."
Houston and Hali are the engines that make the pass rush go. Houston is tied for the league lead with 9.5 and Hali is fourth with 7.5.
But even taking those two players out of the equation, the Chiefs have 14 sacks, more than many of the other NFL teams. Those sacks have been spread among eight different players. Seven different players were involved in Sunday's 10-sack game against the Oakland Raiders.
That says Sutton has a lot to choose from. Among his better options are linebacker Derrick Johnson and strong safety Eric Berry.
"I would tell you (Sutton) has a good menu to draw from," Reid said. "He had (Berry) in there. He's got a knack for that, like we had with (former Eagles safety Brian) Dawkins before. Eric Berry does the same type of thing. He's just got a nice feel for that. When you start adding in the secondary players, Akeem (Jordan) has a good feel, (Johnson) has a good feel. That's one of the better things that (Brandon) Flowers does."