When a defense struggles as much as the Chiefs has in recent years, it’s hard to overlook the lack of a pass rush, especially after a historically bad effort in 2008. John Marshall takes a look at Kansas City’s defensive outlook when it comes to quarterback pressure.
“That’s a clear-cut goal of ours of an area that’s got to improve, to at least get pressure on the quarterback,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. “Not necessarily getting sacks and that statistic, but we’ve got to create pressure and ultimately create minus plays.”
The superficial view isn’t promising.
Kansas City made no significant offseason acquisitions on the line and have gone with the same front seven through the first few weeks of offseason workouts. The Chiefs also will be playing under their third defensive coordinator in three years, with Romeo Crennel taking over for Clancy Pendergast, who had replaced Gunther Cunningham of the Herm Edwards era.
Look a little deeper, though, and there are glimpses of hope for hounding the quarterback.
First is Crennel.
The 62-year-old was at the helm during New England’s almost-annual run to the Super Bowl, helping Bill Belichick — along with new Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss and GM Scott Pioli — lead the Patriots to titles in 2002 and 2004.
“I like what he’s been doing so far,” second-year defensive end Tyson Jackson said. “Romeo is going to make a huge difference.”
It’s easy to look at where the Chiefs made additions on the defense and question where the improvements in the pass rush will be coming from. But if you watched the Chiefs last year you know it’s so much more than simply needing more of a push from Jackson and Glenn Dorsey.
If Crennel is able to get a better performance from the linebackers and secondary, it will go a long way towards helping the defensive line. It’s hard for anyone to get pressure on the quarterback when there is no support behind them. If things go to plan, that won’t be a problem this season.
Not only will the Chiefs finally have a legitimate starting safety in first-round pick Eric Berry, but also arguably the top blitzing corner from the 2010 draft class.
And of course we cannot forget about the never ending hot-button issue that is Derrick Johnson. You don’t expect a lot of sacks from your inside linebackers, but DJ has shown over his career that he can get the job done pressuring the quarterback when his number is called.