Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo set on reversing Chiefs' red-zone woes

Week 13
Posted at 3:01 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 16:03:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo addressed it before the subject was ever broached by reporters: the Kansas City Chiefs' red-zone defense.

"I understand it; I get it," Spagnuolo said, anticipating interest in his unit's woeful results inside its own 20-yard-line.

Understandably, there are aspects of the solutions he'd prefer not to divulge.

"I'm not going to go deep into the solutions," Spagnuolo said Thursday during a press conference, "because I'm talking to the Chargers."

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But the Chargers have seen what frustrated Chiefs' fans have seen, a defense that has allowed a touchdown to their opponents — the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens — on all eight trips they've made inside the red zone.

"I will say that there's been an extreme focus on it," Spagnuolo said. "The players have taken ownership. The coaches have taken ownership."

The Chiefs were able to escape with a win against the Browns, who scored touchdowns on all four of their red zone trips, but Kansas City wasn't as fortunate in in a 36-35 loss at Baltimore.

The Ravens also scored touchdowns on all four red-zone trips, including two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns by Lamar Jackson runs from inside the 5-yard line.

"It needs to get better," Spagnuolo said. "It begins with a lot of things, the basic football in the red zone which is kind of burr up and man up, like we say."

It doesn't help that the Chiefs have played maybe the two best running teams in the NFL to start the 2021 season. Both Cleveland and Baltimore ranked in the top 3 in running the football in 2020.

"The two teams we've played have been pretty challenging that regard," Spagnuolo said.

But this isn't anything new for the Chiefs.

Kansas City's defense ranked last out of 32 teams in red-zone efficiency last season, allowing touchdowns on 36 of 47 drives.

"Hopefully, it will make us better going forward," Spagnuolo said. "But what we're putting out there right now obviously is not good enough. I think we all know that."