You can always rely on Twitter to spark a bit of controversy, especially when players take to defending themselves. Khalen Saunders stepped up to take on the haters and wanted an explanation of why people think the “Chiefs have no pass rush” when they are 4th in sacks.
Ok Khalen, I’ll see what I can do.
Not all sacks are created equal
A sack is a sack, right? Well, not really. Lets start with the obvious ones. When you’ve a 2 score lead you kind of know that the other team is more likely to pass and it gives the defence a chance to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. Chances of getting a sack would be dramatically increased in these situations.
The Chiefs have had 11 sacks when they’ve had a two score lead this season, that’s 26% of the total. 9 of those were in the second half when you can be even more certain that the opponent will be in pass mode.
32 of the Chiefs 43 sacks came when they had the lead. 4 of them were when scores were level (3 of those 4 were in the 1st quarter of the game when it’s too early for a sack to really be a big play).
When you really need the sacks is when you’re trailing and need the big plays to get back into the game. The Chiefs have had just 7 sacks where they have been trailing and just 3 of those came in the 2nd half of games when they were trailing and really needed the big play. To their credit, 5 of those sacks came on 3rd or 4th downs and were drive enders.
Game situation matters when looking at these things, I could understand how a case could be made that when it really mattered the pass rush wasn’t quite as effective as it could have been.
Not all opponents are created equal
There’s going to Cincinnati to face Joe Burrow and there’s playing at home against Malik Willis and a whole range of challenges in between.
The Chiefs D have come across 4 teams with a winning record. The 49ers game was probably the most complete team performance of the season 3 of the 5 sacks in that game the Chiefs had a double digit lead and knew the 49ers were probably passing. The Chargers are Chris Jones bunny, he has 4 of the 7 sacks against them over the two games.
The big concern to me is the Bills and the Bengals. Winning the Super Bowl almost certainly means beating one or both of them in the playoffs. The pass rush in both those games was less than ideal with only 1 sack in each of them. When it comes to playoff time, the pass rush needs to be significantly improved against quality opposition.
What I think has inflated the Chiefs sack numbers is that they tend to be feast or famine. They’ve had 5 games where they’ve combined for 26 of their 43 sacks, that’s 60% of the season total. Only 4 of those sacks came when the Chiefs trailed.
So Khalen, hope this helps you understand where some Chiefs fans could be coming from. If the pass rush gets home in January then all this will be forgotten. By the fans at least, we’re a fickle bunch.