Chiefs’ NFL-worst red-zone defense shows little improvement so far

Chiefs Ravens Football
Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 17:56:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ final defensive numbers in 2020 didn’t seem too bad.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit tied for 10th in scoring defense, allowing 22.6 points per game, and ranked 16th in yards allowed.

But the red zone was another story.

Opposing offenses scored touchdowns on 36 of 47 red-zone trips last season, a 76.6% that was far and away the worst in the NFL.

Only one other team, the Detroit Lions (72.3%), allowed an opponent red-zone percentage higher than 70%.

It became a point of emphasis for the Chiefs entering 2021.

“Spags spent a lot of time in the offseason with that,” Reid said. “We worked it a ton in camp and we haven’t had the results here yet. We’ll keep pounding that out until we get it right. It’s one of those things, everything gets magnified when you’re in the red zone.”

Through two games, Kansas City has allowed more red-zone touchdowns (eight) than any other team in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens each went 4 for 4 in converting red-zone trips into end-zone visits, but Reid said it’s a symptom of a wider issue with Kansas City’s defense.

“If you’re not tackling in the field, it doesn’t happen in the red zone,” Reid said. “If you’re not getting off blocks in the field, it’s going to get magnified in the red zone. Everything gets a little bit faster and all your strengths and weaknesses get magnified in the red zone.”

Despite the red-zone struggles, the Chiefs rallied past the Browns and only lost by one point at the Ravens after a game-winning drive ended on Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s first career fumble.

It’s an area Kansas City knows it needs to improve entering an AFC West showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers at noon Sunday on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We are working on it,” Reid said. “We’ll keep working on it until we get it right.”