Kansas City Chiefs News: Analyzing The Chiefs More Aggressive Defense Under Andy Reid And Bob Sutton
Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and the Kansas City defense benefited from more aggressive schemes in Week 1. (Photo: Chiefconcerns.com / James Dudko)
The Kansas City Chiefs' winning start under new head coach Andy Reid was sparked by a more aggressive defense. New coordinator Bob Sutton introduced more attack-minded pressure schemes that led to more blitzing.
Sutton's more aggressive brand of defense smothered the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs notched six sacks and snared a pair of interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, in their 28-2 opening day romp.
Sutton's attacking mentality was in stark contrast to the read-and-react, 2-gap style favored by former head coach and coordinator Romeo Crennel. Sutton's change in mindest was immediately evident in the Chiefs' base 3-4 defense.
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He often moved nose tackle Dontari Poe and defensive end Mike DeVito around, having the hulking pair switch positions. Sutton's linemen did not just play head-up on blockers in the traditional 2-gap style. He gave them freedom to attack single gaps.
The former New York Jets assistant was also more willing to blitz from base looks, something that was often a no-no under Crennel. Sutton regularly moved both inside linebackers, Derrick Johnson and Akeem Jordan, onto the line.
The pair would show blitz and that forced the Jaguars to slide their protection inside. Sutton would then rush both outside linebackers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, who were often left with free paths to the quarterback.
But Sutton saved his best scheming for multiple-defensive back looks. One of his best was a one defensive lineman front that featured Poe in a three-point stance, with Hali and Houston flanking him as standing rushers.
Sutton would usually supplement this look by blitzing a defensive back off both edges. He also had other devilish tweaks to this hybrid 3-1-7 alignment.
They included occasionally shifting Hali off the front and lining him up as an inside linebacker. Normally a premier edge rusher, Hali's presence in the middle threw Jacksonville's protection into chaos.
One example was when Sutton used this scheme to drop Houston into zone coverage at the snap. He also blitzed defensive backs off the corners and ran a cross blitz in the middle with Hali and Johnson.
A particularly dangerous 4-1-6 dime look involved a reshaped four-man front. It had Poe and rookie lineman Mike Catapano stacked on one side in three-point stances.
Houston and Hali aligned together on the other side as standing rushers. The star outside linebackers were able to run twists from this position with Houston often rushing inside, while Hali wrapped around.
Sutton's creative use of personnel also involved positioning safety Eric Berry as a hybrid linebacker in both dime and nickel fronts. These aggressive schemes enabled Houston to tally three sacks, while Poe notched one and split another with Berry.
It was Hali who snatched the unit's second interception. He returned it 10 yards for an easy score, completing an emphatic, defense-led rout.
The praise belongs to Sutton who delivered exactly the kind of defense Reid wanted when he took over the Chiefs. Reid had promised his defense would be more creative when he hired Sutton, according KCChiefs.com.
Sutton worked with blitz-happy, defensive-minded coaches like Rex Ryan in New York. That experienced showed for the Chiefs in Week 1, even if it came against the offensively challenged Jaguars, who were also missing main pass-catchers Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis.
Kansas City's defense managed just seven interceptions and 27 sacks under Crennel in 2012. But the early signs suggest Sutton's more aggressive schemes will create greater production from a talented unit.