<
>

Chiefs' weakness: Edge pass rush

6/1/2009

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson
The Chiefs were the worst pass-rushing team in the history of the NFL last year. So, what did they do to improve this massive weakness? Very little. Certainly Kansas City's pass rush wasn't the only problem that needed to be addressed by Scott Pioli and company --but I can't say more or less ignoring it was the right decision either.

The Chiefs are switching to a 3-4 scheme and should be able to create more pressure with Clancy Pendergast's innovative and aggressive schemes, but far more needs to be done. It should also be noted that Kansas City has a fine young secondary that should only improve as they mature another year. Obviously that will help the cause as well.

But I just don't see many good pass rushers here. Tamba Hali did a nice job opposite Jared Allen, but by no means is he a top option. Plus, he is changing positions in the new scheme, even though he is best suited as a 4-3 defensive end. Hali managed only three sacks last year -- and I see him as the Chiefs' best pass-rusher.

What about Mike Vrabel, you ask? I love his style of play, but his game is declining. I saw Vrabel as a throw-in with Matt Cassel; he might not have made the Patriots' final roster in 2009. He has value to the Chiefs for his leadership and mentoring ability in the new scheme, but he is no longer an overly threatening pass-rusher. With the status of the Patriots' outside linebacker position, do you think Bill Belichick would have let one of his favorite players leave town if he could still perform at a high level? He may eclipse the four sacks he registered last year, but he isn't going to approach the 12.5 he had in 2007. In the three previous seasons before 2007, Vrabel managed a total of 14.5 sacks. That is the pace he will show Kansas City.

This is a dismal situation. There isn't a young outside linebacker on this roster who can play the role of understudy to Vrabel and work his way into a starting role. Derrick Johnson is not physical enough to play on the line of scrimmage and is more a 4-3 weakside linebacker. He doesn't fit the new scheme -- much like Hali and last year's fifth overall selection, Glenn Dorsey. Johnson should be an inside backer instead of playing on the edge. Kansas City's roster is far from perfect, and when the 2009 season ends, you can be assured that outside linebacker will rank right at the top of needs for this club.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.