KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The disappointment and frustration have become all too familiar.
Another season cut short of a fan base’s hopes and dreams. Many felt this year was going to be different. Patrick Mahomes was the factor that would turn the tide but even he couldn’t overcome the Chiefs deficiencies on defense. The Chiefs run defense has ranked no better than 22nd in five of six seasons under defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. The defense also gave up 421 points, the most during his tenure by 82 points.
The tough part has come for the Chiefs organization. When do they decide the message has grown stale on defense and needs a rejuvenation? The organization was brave enough to do it last offseason with Alex Smith coming off his best statistical season for Patrick Mahomes. The former top-ten pick rewarded them with one of the best statistical seasons a quarterback has had in the NFL.
Now is the time to be bold and take the pressure off Mahomes and the offense, who are routinely forced to play flawless football because the defense has become predictable and players aren’t always put in the best positions to succeed.
Head coach Andy Reid has a potential Hall of Fame resume and coaching tree that would arguably be the envy of many in the league. He is missing that one elusive piece though that likely guarantees a spot in Canton. A Super Bowl win.
Reid is regarded in NFL circles as one of the most loyal coaches in the league. It is an admirable trait that has helped him sustain success in a industry that routinely pecks away at the success of an organization by others attempting to take pieces from it and emulate the formula that got teams there.
This is a time when legacy has to outweigh loyalty. Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton arguably gave this organization all of the ability he had for six seasons but four early exits and an AFC Championship loss where the Patriots attacked the flaws in the scheme relentlessly is enough time to see the defense needs a different vision and a new voice.
General manager Brett Veach dedicated a draft to improving the defensive talent and made multiple acquisitions to improve the roster. The results showed minimal gains and declined in multiple categories.
Six seasons show that unless Derrick Johnson and some stout defensive linemen are on the field, an opponent's run game can’t be stopped. If the defense doesn’t have four or more pro bowlers it struggles to get above middle of the road.
Defensive schemes are meant to feature and highlight the abilities of the roster while also complimenting the needs of the offense. In the case of the 2018 season, the Chiefs needed a defense that could force turnovers and get off the field to give the offense more possessions. It unfortunately came up short, again.
Mahomes and the offense faced a great deal of pressure to maintain a certain level of excellency - similar to what the defense experienced at different times over the previous five years before Mahomes arrived.
The offense was able to succeed and helped this team reach the highest seed in the playoffs and helped give their defense the best situation possible, the Arrowhead crowd. At some point the defense needs to be held to the same standard of excellence. The only way that appears to be likely is with a new voice and a new vision. Legacies depend on it.