Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs defense was among the worst in the NFL with an average of 5.9 yards per play allowed and the third-worst defensive EPA in the league. That abysmal defensive performance cannot afford to happen in 2013, and it sounds like new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton believes that becoming more aggressive is the answer. Specifically, with regards to forcing turnovers. The Chiefs forced just 13 turnovers last season, and that was tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the lowest total in the NFL.
Star linebacker Derrick Johnson told the Kansas City Star’s Randy Covitz yesterday, “Coach Sutton is definitely going to bring an attack-style defense to our ball club. He’s already talked about it, about taking the ball away. One of my goals is to take the ball away … and score. That’s the name of the game. Of course the main objective is to win, but takeaways are going to be big for us this year.”
For the Chiefs, it all starts with the secondary. Despite having a great pass rush with sack artists on the edge in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, the Chiefs were only able to pick off seven passes last season. That was the lowest total in the NFL last season, and it was also the lowest total for the Chiefs in franchise history. Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers (3) and Stanford Routt (2) combined for five interceptions, but the only other defensive back to record a pick was Eric Berry- and he only had one.
Sutton needs to preach aggressiveness and forcing turnovers on defense to the Chiefs, because forcing turnovers can bail you out on defense. Just look at the New England Patriots, because their penchant for picking off passes and forcing an extraordinary amount of fumbles helped make up for issues in the secondary last season. As a former linebackers coach with the New York Jets, Sutton learned plenty about aggressiveness on D from head coach Rex Ryan, as well as the importance of turnovers from watching the rival Patriots. The Pats actually specifically key in on forcing fumbles and recovering them in practice quite often to increase their efficiency in that aspect of the game, and it will be interesting to see if the Chiefs follow suit.
Derrick Johnson, interestingly enough, led the team in forced turnovers with four fumbles forced.
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