The Kansas City Chiefs defensive woes plagued the team throughout the entirety of the 2018 regular season, and, despite the best efforts of an elite-level starting quarterback, ultimately kept them out of the Super Bowl.
The restructuring of the defensive coaching staff started early the Tuesday morning after the bitter loss to the New England Patriots with the firing of long-time defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. The now Steve Spagnuolo-fronted defensive staff has seen some new additions to the assistant coaches, with the recent hiring of Matt House from Kentucky, and New England Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly.
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) February 9, 2019
The Kansas City Chiefs’ cornerbacks have been a consistent topic of discussion for the Chiefs for several years. Since the conclusion of the 2017 regular season and the release of cornerback Marcus Peters, the coaching staff has attempted to find solutions to the problem. In the 2018 season, the Chiefs started cornerbacks Steven Nelson, Orlando Scandrick, and Kendall Fuller. Tremon Smith played only in two games last season, for a total of four tackles, while Fuller recovered from wrist surgery.
Sources: #Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller played through a painful wrist injury, believed to be a fracture, in last night’s loss to the #Chargers. The plan is to have surgery this morning. A blow to their secondary.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 14, 2018
Fuller was a crowd-pleaser last season for the Chiefs, defending multiple passes and forcing a fumble. He was acquired by the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of the 2017 season as part of the Alex Smith trade with the Washington Redskins. Fuller suffered a wrist injury at the end of the 2018 season and was out of play for two weeks after the surgery to repair the fracture. Fuller has performed at a very high level in the AFC West, earning a 72.4 PFF score.
On the other side of the defensive line, Steven Nelson had the best year of his career last season, which is really too bad. Nelson finished last season with four interceptions and 68 combined tackles, an improvement from his performance in the 2017 season when he started only seven of the nine games he played in. The Kansas City Chiefs defensive secondary needs work, ranking 31st in pass defense, and allowing an average of 273 passing yards per game. Aside from the struggles that the Chiefs defense endured with inside rushing plays, they are allowing too many yards through the air.
2018's highest-graded cornerbacks from the AFC West pic.twitter.com/Ifro7ALva6
— PFF (@PFF) February 12, 2019
Looking ahead to the draft and the beginning of the free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs will need to use all of their resources to solve this problem before it keeps them out of another Super Bowl. The new defensive coaches are certainly a step in the right direction. However, utilizing their draft picks to their advantage will be quintessential to success. The 2019 Draft class is littered with talented defensive backs, with names like Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, and DeAndre Baker floating to the top of the list.
The Kansas City Chiefs are in a position to make some very wise selections in the draft. Not only that, but they also have enough tradeable players to move up the list if needed.
Cap space has been, and always will be, a factor that all NFL teams have to deal with, and the Chiefs are no exception. Trading away some of the higher contracts for the better of the cap could be beneficial, and would make things easier to bring in some of the new talents that are becoming available.
Not only that, the Chiefs need to retain enough money to keep their All-Pro starters long-term. Needless to say, Brett Veach has a hard job.