With the amount of offensive firepower the Chiefs show, the defense is often overlooked. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has had a lot of success in changing that mindset.
“I told our guys before, ‘There (are) two ‘S’ words that we don’t worry about until the end of the year — statistics and standings,’” Spagnuolo said. “But you mentioned it, so I’ll go there.”
The statistic Spagnuolo referred to in this case was the team’s total takeaways. Initially noted as a mark that needed improvement leading up to the season, the Chiefs defense sits at second in the NFL with 12 total takeaways through week seven.
“There’s no key reason here. We’re always pounding and emphasizing punching the ball out and productions at the ball,” Spagnuolo said. “Jim Johnson, who I worked with and for in Philadelphia used to say, ‘Sometimes they come in bunches.’ They have come that way. It’d be nice if that continues.”
Takeaways are just one point of improvement that the Chiefs defense has made as it begins making a name for itself in 2020.
The secondary has been a big reason for this, as the Chiefs have hauled in nine interceptions so far this season despite playing through injuries to L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward, and a suspension from Bashaud Breeland.
“We are probably as close as a unit as I’ve ever experienced in my seven years,” Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen said. “We got pretty much the same secondary that we had last year for the most part… there’s a lot of continuity there.”
The Chiefs’ defense ranks in the top-10 of the league in points allowed per game and the top-five in passing yards allowed per game.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones has noticed the shift, too, and he sees the impact certain plays are making on games.
“I thought (Frank Clark) was going to take it back, last week against Denver off the flea-flicker, picking that up, I thought he was about to take it back,” Jones said. “It’s always fun when the defensive line can get the ball and have an opportunity to score.”
With the steps the Chiefs defense has made through the first part of the season, Jones says he sees it having the potential to be one of the league’s best throughout the season, but he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.
“We’re just focused on getting better week in and week out-figuring out things that we can get better at, figuring out how we can pressure the quarterback more and affecting an opposing team,” Jones said. “Just picking up where we left off and trying to be better.”With the Chiefs approaching the halfway point of the season, Spagnuolo said he’s looking for consistency with the defense, whether takeaways are involved or not.“If you don’t get them, you’ve got to be playing good enough defense to keep people out of the endzone and off the scoreboard,” Spagnuolo said. “Certainly, turnovers help but you’re not always going to get them. Keep our fingers crossed they keep coming.”