Defensive Key: Stop The Run … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Darren McFadden (No. 20) and Michael Bush (No. 29)

Two years ago the Denver Broncos ran for 245 yards against the Chiefs defense. Last year, the San Diego Chargers totaled 207 yards against the Kansas City defense. Three weeks later, the Oakland Raiders ran for 209 yards against that same defense.

Despite the fact they allowed an average of 158.5 rushing yards per game against teams in their own division, somehow the Chiefs were able to finish first in the AFC West.

It wasn’t like the Chiefs rushing defense was the worst in the league. Far from it; over 16 games, they gave up an average of 110.3 rushing yards per game and finished 10-6. That means in the 10 games outside the AFC West, they allowed an average of 81.3 rushing yards per game while going 8-2 in those games.

It comes down to match-ups and quite simply the Chiefs last year did not match-up well against their brethren in the AFC West. On the line of scrimmage, both offensive and defensive lines were overwhelmed by the Raiders, Chargers and Broncos.

That was especially evident in that regular season finale when the Raiders pounded the ball down the throats of the Chiefs defense.

“Remember it? You don’t forget something like that,” ILB Derrick Johnson said. “They were a better team than we were that day and they shoved it down our throats. That simply can’t happen again.”

Numbers in red are Chiefs victories.

That 209-yard performance came without Darren McFadden, who missed the game due to injury. Michael Bush was the engine of the Oakland run game on this afternoon, running 25 times for 137 yards.

“It’s an area that we’ve got to continue to improve, but it has been improving and that’s the most important thing,” Todd Haley said. “I said after the Minnesota game that we had done a pretty good job in that game, had we been able to stop some of those reverses.

“(Oakland) is another team that likes to hand the ball off to receivers and they can really run with it, so we’ve got to continue to do some work on that as a run defense. In general, we’ve been making progress and that’s the key and I think that’s why we’ve seen our team continue to improve. It has to happen again this week.”

Oakland finished up the season ranked No. 2 in the league in average rushing yards per game at 155.9 yards per game. They finished behind only the Chiefs.

“In that last game they were clearly much better than us,” Haley said. “Our guys are really focused on trying to continue to do the things that we’ve been doing here over the past three weeks to make progress. We don’t want to go backwards at all. We need to keep getting a little better each and every week.”

This year after six weeks the Raiders are No. 2 in the NFL, with an average of 160 rushing yards per game and McFadden is the No. 1 rusher in the league with 610 yards on 111 carries.

The Chiefs defense will have its hands full, especially with McFadden.

“He’s fast and strong,” Johnson said. “That’s a combination that can kill you at any moment. It’s an explosion waiting to happen. We can’t give him anything to light the fuse.”

In the last two seasons, McFadden has seven runs of 40 yards or more, three runs of 50 yards or more. This year, McFadden has a 70-yard touchdown run.

“We have done a good job of not giving up any big runs,” said DE Glenn Dorsey. “That’s really important against McFadden.”

So far this season, the longest run the Chiefs have allowed to a running back is 24 yards. Fred Jackson got that one in the season opener. They also gave up a pair of 23-yard runs to Minnesota WR Percy Harvin on end-around plays.

This season in six games, the Raiders have used the end-around six times, gaining 71 yards with WRs Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, including long runs of 30 and 25 yards.

“The Raiders are always fast and you have to always be concerned about them getting outside on the edge with their speed,” said CB Brandon Flowers.

But don’t ask Flowers about what happened last year in that final game against the Raiders.

“I don’t remember much from the last game,” Flowers said. “That’s how we have to play these games the rest of the season. What happened before doesn’t matter. What happens down the road doesn’t matter. All that matters is this week. That’s how we won last year and that’s what we have to do again.”

It will help them tremendously if they can find a way to contain the Raiders running game.

“I think first and foremost we’ve got to stop one of the best running attacks in the league and one of the best backs in the league,”
Haley said of the Raiders. “If we don’t do that, it will be a long day for us and it won’t matter really who is playing quarterback. We’ve got to stay focused on the strengths of their team, specific strengths of their team.

“Each and every week for us, and it just becomes even a greater importance and emphasis is we must slow down their run game, some way, somehow.”

3 Responses to “Defensive Key: Stop The Run … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 20, 2011  - ED J says:

    Our run defense has improved thanks to the emergence of Tjax. He has made the yr 3 jump. I think as long as him and Dorsey continue to play well run defense will be good.

  • October 20, 2011  - jim says:

    Maintain gap responsibiities and don’t let them get outside. DJ and company MUST meet backs in the hole, not 4 yards down field. KEY: Control their center and don’t let him get to the MLB at the second level. That just really clogs things up and makes it more difficult for the flow to get where it needs to be. Just my thoughts………..

  • October 20, 2011  - John says:

    I am not totally convinced that we have the right players for a 3-4 defense. Not really convinced that a 3-4 is better than a 4-3. Especially against the run. Man I miss Berry.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News