Bob Sutton / Defense / Andy Reid
- According to Football Outsiders, the Kansas City Chiefs have the 6th best defense in the league (3rd best against the pass, 24th best against the run).
- According to Pro Football Focus, the Chiefs have the best defense in the league (3rd best against the pass, 2nd best against the run).
Want to know how many Top 10 defenses the San Diego Chargers have faced this season? According to PFF, the answer is 2 (Titans and Dolphins). According to FO, the answer is zero. Both sites agree, KC is far and away the best defense San Diego will have faced in 2013.
Bob Sutton has an odd history. He was with Army's football team forever (1983-1999), spending eight years as their Defensive Coordinator and eight years as their Head Coach.
When Al Groh became the Head Coach of the New York Jets, Sutton joined him as the team's Linebackers Coach. Somehow, through Groh and Herm Edwards and Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan, Sutton stayed on the staff. He was even the Jets' Defensive Coordinator during the Mangini years before being demoted when Ryan came in from the Ravens.
When Andy Reid became Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, he hired Jim Johnson (who, to that point, had bounced around the league as a Linebackers Coach for 11 years) to be his Defensive Coordinator and told Johnson that he didn't want to hear about the defense. Reid would take care of the offense, Johnson would take care of the defense. That formula lead to 7 playoff appearances in 9 years, including a few trips to the NFC Championship Game and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Jim Johnson's deteriorating health, and eventual passing, led to Andy Reid's only mistake in Philadelphia. After Johnson's protege, Sean McDermott (who is lighting up the league as the Panthers' Defensive Coordinator this season), failed to match the success of Johnson's attacking defense, he was fired and replaced with Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo. It was the mistake that would eventually cost him his job. Hiring an Offensive Line Coach to be your Defensive Coordinator should always cost you your job. The decision led to some of the worst defense you've ever seen played by an NFL team, and led Andy Reid straight to Kansas City.
Upon landing with the Chiefs, Reid learned from his mistake. He identified Sutton as a strong defensive mind that could run an attacking defense, similar to the one run by Jim Johnson in Philadelphia, and handed him the keys to that side of the football. Seriously, Andy Reid doesn't get involved with the defense at all. Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride told me in August the Reid even avoided getting close to defensive players during training camp.
Oddly enough, the plan that worked the first time is working once again. Sutton's defense looks a lot like Johnson's, in that they both blitz early and often and create a bunch of turnovers. The Chiefs 9-1 record might be heavily affected by luck, playing backup QBs every week will help any defense look better, but it still looks as though Reid has quickly turned the Chiefs into "Eagles South". I wouldn't be surprise to see this team winning 10+ games a year and ending up playing deep into the playoffs regularly.
The Chiefs already had quite the home field advantage before this season. The 2010 Chiefs team, which had almost this same group of players, went 7-1 at Arrowhead Stadium. The 2013 Chiefs team is 5-0 at home so far.
Their games sell out, quickly, and their fans are very loud (and very red). I won't necessarily say that it's the best home field advantage in the NFL, because I think that still belongs to the Packers (especially when you add in the weather), but it is certainly up there.
The only road games the Chargers have won this season were in Jacksonville against the Jaguars and in Philadelphia against the Eagles in Week 2. Mike McCoy's group has a long way to go to prove that they can win a tough game on the road.
The 2013 San Diego Chargers were not going to win with their depth. We knew this in the preseason. The team's Injured-Reserve list currently has more than a few recognizable names:
- Larry English, OLB (biceps)
- Dwight Freeney, OLB (quadricep)
- Byron Jerideau, DT (shoulder)
- Steve Williams, CB (pectoral)
- Mike Harris, OT (ankle)
- Malcom Floyd, WR (head/neck)
- Danario Alexander, WR (knee)
- Jonas Mouton, ILB (knee)
Looking at that list, I see 3 guys that were slated to be Week 1 starters (Freeney, Floyd, Alexander). I see 2 more that started games this season due to injuries in front of them (English, Harris). Williams and Mouton would've started games this season had they been healthy, because they're better then Crezdon Butler and Andrew Gachkar. That leaves Byron Jerideau as the only non-essential player on the IR.
The fun doesn't end there, though. Johnny Patrick, arguably the Chargers' best cornerback this season, is expected to miss Sunday's game with a concussion. Jarret Johnson, the best pass rusher left on the Chargers' roster, will miss this game and probably several more after having surgery on his hand this week. King Dunlap, the only true left tackle on the team, will probably miss his second straight game with a "neck strain" that may or may not have come with his third concussion of the season.
That means that the secondary will be worse than normal, as will the pass rush, and the offensive line will continue to be a "work in progress". Also, the tackling probably isn't getting any better, if you listen to what Mike McCoy said in his press conference:
Did you work on anything differently today in terms of tackling?
"No. We've had a tackling circuit on Wednesday every day this year. There's certain things you work on every day, and obviously from last week's game we've got to clean some things up."
Did the tackling circuit go longer or did you make any tweaks to it?
"No. The coaches have a plan and it's not the same thing every day. There's rotations you do and each week there might be a new little wrinkle for certain things. We weren't in pads today either, so you work on what you can work on."