Remember 2018? Seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it? Mahomes was having a record setting season, the offence was rolling but, that defence. Oh, that defence. If only they were average was the common refrain. The way this offence is playing if we were just middle of the road then look out NFL.
Well, it’s 2020 and the Chiefs have a defence. The funny thing is, it doesn’t seem to matter who is in there. Missing your best CBs? No problem. Star pass rusher out? Not a bother. Linebackers couldn’t cover me? No big deal.
Monday night against the Patriots and the defence put on a clinic of how to play against bad quarterbacks. Let’s face it, the Patriots aren’t winning much with Hoyer and Stidham under center but the Chiefs defence gave them precious little opportunities and forced their hand quite a bit.
Those of you that have read these so far will recognize these charts. The one on the left is remarkable. The average separation by the receivers when the ball is thrown. As you can see, it was pretty much non existant. Hoyer made what NextGen Stats considers ‘aggressive’ throws on 37% of his passes. An ‘aggressive’ throw is one where the receiver has one yard or less of seperation when the ball arrives. To put this in context, the Patriots defence did pretty well and Mahomes was still only throwing 17% aggressive throws.
The pass rush chart on the right shows how far away defenders were when the QB throws. Frank Clark was a monster, with a sack and 3 QB hits, but overall the pass rush was average at best so Hoyer had clean enough pockets to throw from, he just had nobody open to throw it to.
What the defence are doing well is taking the ball away. To beat this Chiefs team you MUST win the turnover battle and you probably need to be +2 to give yourself the best chance of winning. If you give the Chiefs 2 less chances to score and you get 2 extra then maybe, just maybe, you have a chance. But the Chiefs are 3rd in the NFL with 5 interceptions, 3 of those on Monday night. They are also 4th in the league on forced fumbles.
So the defence is taking the ball away on a regular basis, which makes it very difficult for anyone to be +2 in tunrovers, especially when Mahomes isn’t throwing picks of his own and the offence only fumbles occasionally.
The aggressive nature of the defence doesn’t come at a cost either. 2nd best in the NFL averaging 17 points per game conceded. If the opposition is only scoring 17 points against the Chiefs my money is on the Chiefs every single time.
This is what happens when you don’t allow teams to score. As long as the defence keeps playing as it has, good luck NFL.