Youngsters Must Step Forward … Cup O’Chiefs

The question was asked of Todd Haley as a response to an answer he gave to what the Chiefs must do to slow down the New England offense.

The Chiefs head coach mentioned several things but really emphasized one factor – the pass rush. “It’s going to come down to us being able to keep the quarterback uncomfortable, as uncomfortable as we can,” Haley said of Patriots passer Tom Brady.

For a team that has just nine sacks in nine games, that seems a tall order. The Chiefs have now gone 128 minutes, 22 seconds of football since they had a sack; that came early in the overtime against San Diego on Halloween night. No other NFL teams have fewer than 13 sacks.

Todd Haley, where will that extra pressure that will keep Brady on his toes come from?

“We are at that stage in the season where rookies are no longer rookies,” Haley said. “One of the things we’ve talked about is that our young players that have been developing and been contributing to this point, but in a limited capacity.

“They’re going to have to continue to get better and they are going to be challenged to step up and help be a part of finishing this season strong and having a chance to play more games.”

Translation – time for third-round draft choices DE Allen Bailey and OLB Justin Houston to take the training wheels off and start showing how they can get to the opposing passer. Time for first-year OLB Cameron Sheffield to cash in on some of the promise he’s shown as an edge pass rusher in training camp and practices.

“It’s not any one player, it’s a bunch of players and we’re going to have to just play better football and it’s going to have to start Monday,” Haley said.

Bailey, Houston and Sheffield are the only defensive rookies who get a chance to see extended playing time. What opportunities they have has not produced much in the way of problems for opposing quarterbacks:

Bailey – He’s been one of the defensive ends in the sub-defense against the pass all season, working with Wallace Gillberry. He’s been in on 165 plays and has 3 total tackles, 3 QB pressures and 2 passes knocked down.

Houston – The Georgia product has moved between base defense and the sub-package, sometimes both. He’s appeared in 317 total plays and has 30 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 QB hit, 2 QB pressures and one pass knocked down.

Sheffield – After missing last season because of a serious head/neck injury, Sheffield has been healthy this season. He’s appeared in 129 total plays in the base and sub defenses. He has seven total tackles and one tackle for loss.

There’s one thing missing from the resumes of all three players – sacks, not a single one between the three.

The Chiefs pass rush problems cannot be laid at the feet of Bailey and Houston, although they’ve done nothing to help make it work. With the exception of OLB Tamba Hali, pass rushing seems to have become a lost or forgotten art. Check out these numbers:

 

Pos

 

Player

Pass

Rushes

 

Sacks

QB

Hits

QB

Pressure

OLB

Tamba Hali

258

6

7

17

DE

Glenn Dorsey

156

0

2

0

DE

Wallace Gilberry

135

1

4

2

DE

Tyson Jackson

134

0

0

2

NT

Kelly Gregg

123

1

0

2

DE

Allen Bailey

122

0

0

3

NT

Amon Gordon

73

0

0

0

OLB

Cameron Sheffield

62

0

0

6

OLB

Justin Houston

56

0

1

2

ILB

Derrick Johnson

43

1

1

3

ILB

Jovan Belcher

17

0

0

1

OLB

Andy Studebaker

16

0

0

1

CB

Javier Arenas

12

0

3

2

S

Sabby Piscitelli

9

0

0

1

S

Jon McGraw

8

0

0

0

ILB

Demorrio Williams

6

0

0

1

S

Donald Washington

5

0

1

0

S

Kendrick Lewis

2

0

0

0

CB

Travis Daniels

1

0

0

0

S

Reshard Langford

1

0

0

0

   

1,239

9

19

43

Those numbers are not good. The Chiefs have faced 268 attempted passes with nine sacks. That’s 277 passing plays. With 1,239 pass rushes, that’s an average of 4.5 Chiefs pass rushers on each play.

And on those 1,239 pass rushers, only 28 out of 277 times was a hand laid on the passer. That’s one sack and two other quarterback hits per game.

In recent weeks, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has dialed up a few more blitzes in an attempt to pressure the quarterback. But the only defensive back that seems to get enough of a rush to get regular contact with the passer is CB Javier Arenas. Only S Donald Washington has come off the backline and actually hit the quarterback.

The pass rush doesn’t have to sack or even knock down the quarterback to cause problems. When there is successful pressure, it will show up on the completion percentage numbers, touchdown passes and interceptions. Opposing passers have completed 59 percent of their passes against the Chiefs and thrown 13 interceptions vs. 16 TD throws. The completion percentage ranks tied for 11 lowest among team opponents. They are tied at fourth most interceptions and they are tied for sixth in giving up the most TD passes.

While some of those numbers aren’t bad, they don’t indicate a lot of pass rush pressure that’s not scoring sacks.

Coming up on Monday is Brady and the Patriots pass protection has gone back to pass 376 times and been sacked on 16 of those plays or once every 23.5 pass plays. So the pass rush gets to Brady less than twice a game. He completes 66 percent of his passes, has thrown 23 TDs and 10 interceptions. It’s obviously has not bothering him much.

Now, it’s time for the Chiefs to see if they can effect Tom Brady’s concentration. For that to happen, the kids are going to have to be alright.


13 Responses to “Youngsters Must Step Forward … Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 19, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Those are very telling numbers. Three keys to winning at any level and particularly in the NFL are having the ability on defense to stop the run, a consistent ability to pressure the passer and having some consistency on offense to control the ball (most often by running as we were able to do effectively last year) to take some of the pressure off the defense. Week after week we make QBs look like HOF’ers while they chew us up and put up leads we can’t challenge. Look at the difference in New England’s sack stats and ours. As usual Bob, you are right on target. Until we can protect our QB better and pressure the other team’s QB more we will keep losing.


  • November 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    Just not sure it will come from the “kids”. Mainly because they never get on the field. It is not like they can call their own numbers and get to play. Most of us like what we see from Baldwin but the rest? Houston looked like he might bump Studebaker for playing time but has since disappeared. And the rest? Hudson, if he has any talent at all should show up somewhere on the OL, G or C, by this time of the season and with our record. Powe, a savior to many of you, has never been active for a single game yet. Get him on the darned field.

    It is great to want the kids to show up but it is starting to look like a typical (for KC) Pioli draft. A whole lot of misses. Haley cannot go to war with the boy scouts against team like NE. Where are his bodies for now and the future? Baldwin alone is not enough.


  • November 19, 2011  - Tim says:

    Something has been clearly missing in the evaluation of draftees & how they’re projected to develop. Additionally, in this style of the 3-4, it seems its designed (or being played) as a “bend, don’t break” defense. That strategy doesn’t really mesh well with high pressure pass rush. For example, look at the famed 46 Defense of Buddy Ryan’s old Chicago Bears. That was certainly not a “bend, but don’t break” approach. It seems in the evaluation of players, our personnel people are sacrificing pass rushing skills & potential for other elements they feel are necessary. This means the rush will take MUCH longer to develop, if at all in some players.


  • November 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    Not sure just what defense Crennel is playing. It seems more like one designed against the team they will play against as opposed to a specific kind. I am probably wrong but the defense cannot not seem to change direction if it is not working.

    Thinking about it, during games, in general, that seems to be true with the offense also. What we are is it, see you after the gun goes off. Which is fine if you are the Lombardi Packers and executing student body left or right, but the Clarks do not seem capable of executing all that much.


  • November 19, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    “Bend don’t break” lacks intimidation. Seems like a design flaw to me.


  • November 19, 2011  - ED J says:

    Part of problem is Houston was being missed used. Early on in the season he was being taking out during times we wld put in our rushing formation because he was only playing in the base. Then we ask.Gilberry to gain weight so he can play more inside and that isnt working. He wld at least get about 7 to 8 sacks.per yr but with the extra pounds and him playing inside instead of on the edge has hurt his development. So i think Romeo really using personel wrong along guys like Sheffield Houston and Bailey needing more time to develop. Also why dont we blitz more out of our base. We only rush 4 most of time and Hali is the only guy that can rush the passer in that situation. We are mostly sending him Dorsey tjax and gregg. Which is silly to.me when teams like Steelers mix it up and rush both their inside and outside linebackers


  • November 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    ED J you should be the DC for the Chiefs. I cannot dispute any of it but Crennel must have been defrauding pro football based on what he cannot do the Clarks. You are probably correct for all I know but unless you get hired to replace Crennel, it would seem there is no hope for the Clarks to ever succeed.


  • November 19, 2011  - rufus says:

    el cid, you would be better off looking to the team’s veterans for play making and leading this team to wins. who? therein lies the problem – it’ll be some time before the Chiefs take the field in such a way.

    re bend/don’t break 34 defense, teams in the NFL that have success with 34 all have guys in that front 3 that can get after the QB, specifically at the RDE position. The Chiefs don’t have that.


  • November 19, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Is there any truth that a 3-4 defense will not get as many sacks as a 4-3 defense??? Like Ben Stein would say: “anybody, anybody”??????


  • November 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    I am with you rufus but the article was the younsters need to step up, doubt it was directed at DJ or Pope or Weigman. I was referring to last years draftees, not much heard of from them except for Baldwin.


  • November 19, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    It might be difficult to be DC when watching the game after it’s over on a DVR.
    Plus we all know it’s the QB’s fault that only Tamba can pressure the QB ;)


  • November 19, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Good point cychief. I’m sure they’re right and it is the QB’s fault he got injured and that only Tamba can bring pressure. Oh, and to paraphrase John McKay, El Cid has a point. I think the execution of our offense and defense are good ideas. Get the DVR’s rolling guys. We’re probably going to have lot’s of game tape to review after this one.


  • November 20, 2011  - el cid says:

    John, do you mean we should execute our offense and defense or they should execute our offense and defense? I am good with it either way. LOL.

    I think we will need large doses of humor to finish this season.




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