Defense Fails Basic Test … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Should a team desire to make the NFL post-season tournament, there is one way that will provide the biggest push and punch the ticket to one of the 12 available spots for the playoffs:

Run defense.

Yes, victories and points are the primary way they keep score in the NFL. But beyond those obvious decider of games, being able to stop the run is so, so key to playing in January.

Just take the league stats at this point of the season. The combined record of the 10 teams that allow the fewest rushing yards each week is 55-37. The combined record of the 10 teams that allow the most rushing yards each week is 35-56.

Among the top 10 run stoppers, eight teams have winning records. Among the bottom 10 teams against the run, only three have winning records. The No. 32 run defense in the league is St. Louis, giving up 150.6 yards per game. The best team in the league against the run was San Francisco, giving up just 73.2 rushing yards per game.

One of those teams in the bottom 10 against the run is the Chiefs with their 4-5 record and a defense that’s ranked No. 26 in rushing yards allowed this season at 134 yards per game. The numbers are worse when the Chiefs play a team in their own division. Over the last 13 games (going back to 2010), the K.C. run defense has been wiped out by their AFC West brethren at least once.

All three of the teams put up over 200 rushing yards in a game against Todd Haley’s defense, with two of those games at Arrowhead Stadium:

Date Opponent




November 13, 2011 Denver



Denver 17-10

January 2, 2011 Oakland



Oakland 31-10

December 12, 2010 @ San Diego



San Diego 31-0

In the last 25 regular season games or since the start of the 2010 season, it now breaks down like this for the Chiefs run defense:















Non-AFC West







AFC West







So what’s up with a 63-yard difference in rushing yards allowed in the division compared to out? What is the major problem the Chiefs are having stopping the run in the AFC West? Haley doesn’t it see it that way.

“I don’t know that it’s directly correlated to Denver or any one team,” Haley said. “I know we’ve done a good job of stopping the run against certain teams in our division, and at times done a poor job.

“I think ultimately for our team it comes down to doing things the way we need to do them from a technique standpoint and knowing you’re going to be in one-on-one matchups that you don’t always win. Like I said after the (Denver) game, how many passes they attempted or didn’t attempt is a non-factor. They threw it well enough because they were able to complete one of those for 65 yards and a touchdown.”

Here’s the other thing that ultimately has Haley and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel scratching their heads – although the AFC West has some outstanding runners, they haven’t been gouged by top-shelf backs for all this yards. Take this season’s meeting with Oakland and the 2010 regular season finale against the Raiders. There was little or no presence of Darren McFadden.

Denver’s Willis McGahee looked like he was on his way to a big afternoon last Sunday, but pulled a hamstring late in the first quarter and he was done for the day. San Diego RB Ryan Mathews has tweaked a couple of injuries in two games against the Chiefs. None of the division backs topped 100 rushing yards and despite the amount of yardage they’ve given up, the Chiefs have only seen one opposing runner go over 100 yards. That was in the season opener hen Buffalo Fred Jackson went for 112 yards on 20 carries.

Here’s what the AFC West backs have done this year:

  • @ San Diego – Ryan Mathews, 21 carries for 98 yards, 2 TDs.
  • @ Oakland – Michael Bush, 10 carries for 99 yards.
  • San Diego – Mathews, 13 carries for 57 yards.
  • Denver – Lance Ball, 30 carries for 96 yards.

So even though they haven’t been crushed in the last few games against the AFC West teams by a single back, the Chiefs run defense was still crushed. Until they can stop their division opponents from gashing them for big rushing yardage, the chances of the Chiefs winning the AFC West are slim and none.

“We just weren’t good enough in any area, offense, defensively or special teams and we had opportunities in each area to be better and we did enough things to hurt us,” Haley said of the loss to the hard running Broncos. “I have to give Denver credit – they did a heck of a job of operating it and that’s a lot of moving pieces and you’re counting on a turnover or one miss catch on pitch and that’s sometimes the pitfalls of running the option, any form of it there is a ball handling issue. The quarterback, receivers and backs all did a terrific job of not giving us any opportunity there and we obviously didn’t make any for ourselves.”

Until the Chiefs defense can reliably walk on to the field and hold teams to less than 115 rushing yards, they have increased the odds against their winning. Why 115? That’s the average right now for each NFL offense in rushing yardage.

Yes, even average would be so much better for the defense.

5 Responses to “Defense Fails Basic Test … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 16, 2011  - Craig says:

    Excellent Article Bob! Defense wins championships. Gotta stop the run.

  • November 16, 2011  - TDKC says:

    If only we were average…..

  • November 16, 2011  - ED J says:

    Bob thanks for the alley oop I’m about to slam this one home. First our run defense suffers due to personel and strategy. One Studebaker is one of the slowest and terrible technique outside linebakers in the league. He constantly gets beat on outside containment glad to see Houston back at that spot. He has both athleticism and smarts to force run backs back inside or at least to Tyson. Next Dorsey and Gregg are both getting blown off the ball. I watch that game again Sunday and there were time Dorsey was just slipping and falling on the ground. Other times he was just getting blocked one on one and couldn’t get penetration. Bottom line this yr Tyson is outplaying him by a mile. I mean I think Jackson gets alot of heat from Chiefs fans because they’re just use to bashing him but he’s been by far the best defensive lineman on this team. He’s batted balls down, he’s had times where he’s got pressure on QB, and he get penetration on run plays. Kelly Gregg is another one who just gets blown off the ball. Its time Haley move Gordon in at nose and work Powe into the rotation. I mean at this point what do you have to lose its not like we’ve been stopping the run with Gregg in there. Also Jon McGraw like Studebaker he can’t tackle and is not atheletic. At least with Langford in there he can tackle. McGraw doesn’t have upside in coverage or against run I’ll take the worst of two evils.

    Last against Broncos what in the HELL was Romeo think running 2 deep safety. I don’t get why against a QB who can’t throw do you have safeties play so far back. Everyone and I mean everyone know against Denver put 8 to 9 guys in box and blitz the QB. Its as if Romeo has one game plan and he’s going to run the same one against all QB’s every Sunday. Mix it up make adjustment. Thats why you can run 58 times and throw 8 because Romeo is out their playing 2 deep safety and running cover 2 against a none throwing QB. This is something Romeo needs point finger squarely at himself and this needs to be a hit against his legacy as a great def coordinator because I didn’t see it last Sunday.

  • November 16, 2011  - Flyboy26 says:

    Kudos to you Bob on a nice article. ED J, you made excellent points concerning the flaws in the Chief’s defense. I’ve noticed the things you mentioned in practically every game this season and have wondered why Romeo has received so much credit for good defenses. He needs to sharpen his wits or be replaced. Unfortunately, the Chiefs are missing three essential components of a good defense, a consistently good nose tackle, another quality OLB, and another quality safety. With time, Houston will fill the need at OLB,but he currently isn’t getting the job done in pass coverage and consistently doing his part in stopping the run.

  • November 16, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    No one fears our defense. Part of losing the Arrowhead advantage is a half-assed “bend but don’t break” defense. Intimidation isn’t part of our game plan. Marty and Carl understood the advantages of a fearsome rush and a tough defense both at home and on the road. If they had a top QB, we would have additional Super Bowl wins. No doubt. Vermeil didn’t understand the importance of a Ravens/Steelers-like defense….especially at Arrowhead.

    Pioli has brought “The Partriot Way” to KC. He didn’t bring their QB. He needs to focus on what is important to winning football: a top QB and a fierce pass rush. It’s all important, but start at the most crucial and work backwards. Waiting on a franchise QB and the ability to sack the opposing QB will mean an endless number of head coaches. I wonder how many head coaches Clark will give Pioli before Pioli is ousted?

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