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2K22: Defense


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Posted (edited)

A lot has happened with the defense. Four starters were released or left in free agency--Mathieu, Hitchens, Ward, and Reed. In addition about half the reserve players are also gone. We will get into this unit by unit.

Defensive Line: Surprisingly the most stable unit. Jarren Reed and Alex Okafor left in FA. The first big move was restructuring Frank Clark's contract. Chris Jones, Tershwan Wharton, Mike Danna, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, and Joshua Kaindoh return. The team drafted George Karlaftis. Melvin ingram may re-sign at some point and Leo Chenal is a possible edge rusher from LB. That's it. 

Linebacker: Willie Gay and Nick Bolton are back. The team drafted signed Elijah Lee and drafted Leo Chenal. Other than UDFA and PS guys, that's it. 

Secondary: This was a major overhaul which I will address in another post. 

Edited by onejayhawk
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To use and extended metaphor, the secondary has had a major overhaul. The engine is stripped to the block and they are honing the cylinder walls. Hopefully everything is straightened, cleaned and ready to install for camp. There are a couple of major parts from other engines and a ton of replacements ranging  from NAPA's best to no-name brand. 

One of the parts needing straightening is Rashad Fenton who is rehabbing an injury. Also in this category is Deandre Baker who was never 100% in 2021.
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/chiefs_cb_rashad_fenton_uncertain_for_training_camp/s1_14819_37478856

The block that they are building on is Jaun Thornhill and L'Jarius Sneed. These young players are what everything else ties into. 

The major part from another engine is Justin Reid from Houston. This was one of the quietly significant signings of the first FA period. Ried is going to take over a lot of Tyrann Mathieu's responsibities. One theory is that he and Thornhill will be used interchangably.

The new performance part is 1st round pick Trent McDuffie. while short, McDuffie is athletically gifted, tenacious, and a student of the game. GM has said that McDuffie was one of the 16-18 players the FO graded as true first round quality. He's start immediately. The question is where and doing what. Both McDuffie and Sneed are quite versatile. 

That's the lead four, two safeties and two cornerbacks. What about five? Trade acquisition CB Lonnie Johnson is likely first up. He has starting expereience and might make a play for the first four. He also has experience with safety responsibilities.  FA signee Deon Bush is a seven year veteran. He will likely start the seasonn as the big nickel but expect 2nd round pick Bryan Cook to push him. Cook is an in-the-box safety with significant leadership points in his resume.

For depth there are still 4th round pick Joshua Williams, 7th round picks Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson, and list of PS and reserve/futures players. Any of these players may make the roster primarily as a ST player. 

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The question is who other than Nnadi goes out when we bring in a 5th DB and which DB comes in. 

Is it going to be this?

Chenal-Jones-Karlaftis-Clark

Bolton-Gay

McDuffie-Thornhill-Reid-Sneed-Johnson

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  • 2 weeks later...

Melvin Ingram signed with the Dolphins. Back in February, that would be considered a very big deal. Now, not so much. Here is an article talking about it.
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/replacing_melvin_ingram_shouldnt_be_difficult_for_the_chiefs/s1_16631_37508155

I'll discard Jadeveon Clowney because I expect him to re-sign in Cleveland. Three midlevel names are intriguing--Trey Flowers, Carlos Dunlap, Jason Pierre-Paul. The article also has three dice rolls--Ryan Kerrigan, Takkarist McKinley, Everson Griffen. McKinley is still young.

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We did an an article on the offenses snap counts. Here is the defense. 
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2022/5/24/23139004/chiefs-2021-snap-counts-show-turnover-on-all-three-levels-of-defense

  • DL: 68% return. The snaps are mostly spread among Clark, Jones, Danna, Wharton, and Nnadi. The big Losses were Jarren Reed and Alex Okafor. Reed led the team in defensive snaps. Late in the season Melvin Ingram played DE but his snaps are tabulated at LB. George Karlaftis currenly the only new name but Joshua Kaindoh returns from injury. 
  • LB: 47% return. As noted, Ingram had snaps in this group. Also departed are Hitchens and Niemann. Bolton and Gay return while rookie Leo Chenal should get extensive play. 
  • DB: 46% return. Tyrann Mathieu and Charvarius Ward are the largest losses, but Hghes and Sorensen also saw significant snaps. Justin Reid, Lonnie Johnson, and draft picks will take up the slack.

In all, the defense lost almost 50% of the total snaps but FA signings, trades, and draft picks stand ready to make up the difference. WE will be younger, faster, much more physical, but also much less experienced. There is work to do.

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Posted (edited)

PFF puts Nick Bolton on a serious list, the you ascending tier among LB, along with the likes of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Roquan Smith. The Chiefs have already stated taht Bolton is the starting MLB. Willie Gay is mentioned as a breakout candidate.
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2022/05/25/kansas-city-chiefs-nick-bolton-ranked-pff-young-ascending-linebacker-tier/

 

 

Edited by onejayhawk
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It's still early, but the name you hear from the defense is Justin Reid. It could be nothing important, but it could also be Reid stepping into the leadership vacuum casued by Tyrann Mathieu's departure. For the moment, Reid seems to be picking it up very well and is saying that this defense is a lot of fun. It's a good thing for all the rookies to hear.
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/justin_reid_is_already_loving_his_time_with_the_chiefs/s1_16631_37541139

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Posted (edited)

There is an idea floating around that the Chiefs may not go with their traditional nickel package. Rather than a 4-2-5 this would be more of a 3-3-5.

It synchs with DL  coach Joe Cullen's 3-4 roots. In such a scheme one of the LB would be rushing in a standard set  (it isn't a blitz until you rush five). All three of our LB--Gay, Bolton, Chenal--are good at rushing the passer. Though he's newest, Chenal might also be the best pass rusher. I could also see him playing a DE/OLB hybrid.

What is going wihout comment is how much the run defense has improved. Karlaftis is better at run defense than pass rush Leo Chenal was one of the best run defensers in the draft.

One of the interesting ideas floating is that Da'Ron Payne wants out of Washington. If the trade cost was reasonable, this could be a significant DL updrade. Payne plays NT if necessary and 1-tech in an even front, so no conflict with Chris Jones. He's a plus run defender and had 4.5 sacks in 2021. 

Edited by onejayhawk
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Here is an article on Nick Bolton. To be clear, the expectation is that Bolton is the full time MLB and improves significantly from his rookie season. Since Bolton had over 100 tackles and a defensive TD, that's saying something.
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/can_nick_boltons_second_year_jump_meet_sky_high_expectations/s1_16631_37560257

Although not covered as much in the article, the team is also expecting Willie Gay to improve. In his case it's more a matter of consistency at a high level. Both Gay and Bolton have a solid base to project from, which the team did by letting the rest of the LB room depart. The wildcard in the deck is rookie Leo Chenal. One of the best run defending LB in the draft, Chenal is already pegged as the Sam.

Last season we played only two LB mre than we did three. Will that change? The 3-man DL of Karlaftis/Jones/Clark has pass rush posibilities while still being solid against the run. If the team goes to 5 DB, Chenal could becaome a designated rusher, like a 3-4 OLB or 2-point stance DE.  

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This article deals more with the defense's internal chemistry. We lost four starting players--Reed, Hitchens, Ward, and Mathieu. Mathieu in particular was leader. 
https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/spagnuolo_new_look_chiefs_defense_showing_positive_signs_in_otas/s1_16631_37560754

Stepping outside the article a bit, Karlaftis' always on motor sets a great example. Bolton showed leadership as a rookie and the team is handing him the MLB role. The front seven seems to be solid. Karlaftis and Chenal add elements of toughness and physicality that are going to be important. 

The secondary is where the bulk of changes took place. In addition to Mathieu and Ward, Sorensen and Hughes are also gone. Not only is that a lot of snaps, Tyrann Mathieu was the face of the whole defense. To replace those four the team brought in Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid from the Texans and drafted six DB. Justin Reid is already getting leadership notice wile 2nd round pick Bryan Cook has excellent leadership chops from college. 

This defense will almost certainly start three rookies, with another to receive substantial PT. Three of those four--Karlaftis, Cook and Chenal are substantially faster and more physical than the players they replace. Trent McDuffie is the fourth. He is night to day more athletic than Charvarius ward while Justin Reid is both more athletic and more physical than Tyrann Mathieu. The schemes may start as simpler, but this lineup is well suited to attacking vs the old read and cover style.

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This is a guy who I tink will make the roster, Mike Rose. Big 12 followers will remember him as the conference DPOY from Iowa State. While he is not particularly strong or athletic, Rose brings several things--energy, coverage skills, instincts, and a chip on his shoulder. He'll be good LB and should kill on ST.
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/lists/kansas-city-chiefs-rookie-lb-mike-rose-iowa-state-stats-highlights-outlook/

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Posted (edited)

More on the LB. Nick Bolton was thrown in the deep end last season. This year the team is making him a focal point of the defense and looking to him for significant leadership. Since the defense's vocal leader, Tyrann Mathieu has departed, new leadership is critical. 
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2022/06/08/kansas-city-chiefs-brendan-daly-nick-bolton-growth-rookie-to-year-2/
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2022/6/9/23161664/chiefs-nick-bolton-is-ready-to-be-the-mike-linebacker

LB Coach Daly on the rookie LB--Mike Rose, Leo Chenal, Jack Cochrane. He says taht they are picking things up well. With Chenal they are seeing what he can do before they decide what they want him to do.
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2022/06/07/kansas-city-chiefs-brendan-daly-first-impression-leo-chenal-rookie-linebackers/

One for the relationship between Bolton and Gay. It seems Willie rally needed someone to bond with. 
https://chiefswire.usatoday.com/2022/06/15/kansas-city-chiefs-willie-gay-jr-nick-bolton-brotherly-bond/

Edited by onejayhawk
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