Defense Leads the Way

After their 38-5 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night, Kansas City is poised to make NFL history. Can this team go 16-0 with this defense? Will the Miami Dolphins 1972 team and their perfect season remain in tact this year with this defense? Can the Chiefs run the table with this defense? Absolutely they can.

For each NFL naysayer who said the Chiefs were lucky to beat the Ravens, Broncos and Raiders, need to finally shut their mouths and accept that Kansas City and especially their defense is for real. What they've done as a unit thus far this season on defense has been nothing short of amazing. They've taken every teams best shot in the face and made plays when they had to make them. Regardless, if it was creating a turnover, getting a sack or stopping the opponent in the red zone. They've found different ways to improve each week.

What's even more eye-popping is the fact that the Chiefs have learned a valuable lesson after their fourth quarter meltdown in Oakland last Monday Night.

The Raiders nearly pulled off a last second victory when the Chiefs defense went to their prevent defense. When Kansas City jumped out to a big lead on Sunday Night, the Chiefs defense put their licks on Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Kansas City blitzed, sacked and intercepted the one time pro bowl quarterback all game long.

To his credit, Bledsoe didn't get any help from his offensive line. They had very few answers for the Chiefs defense. But Kansas City went for the throat on defense and forced the Bills into seven turnovers. They learned from their mistakes in Oakland and they took the next step in the evolution of their defense.

Much maligned cornerback Eric Warfield matured in front of the sellout crowd last night. He had two interceptions, a sack, forced a fumble and made five solo tackles. Warfield has been criticized for playing too far off receivers and not being aggressive enough chucking receivers at the line of scrimmage.

But Warfield continue to make plays. Last week he intercepted a pass from Rich Gannon in zone coverage. On Sunday night he brought his ‘A' game. He showed the talent that head coach Dick Vermeil knew was in him all the time. Nobody has supported Vermeil more than maybe defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

Warfield has taken full advantage of Robinson's simplified defensive schemes and understands that he has to keep the play in front of him. He also does not have to make every play. Dexter McCleon has solidified the other corner spot and Warfield is generally matched up against the second receiver.

Warfield has played at an All-Pro level the first eight games as has McCleon. But this year, Warfield has taken to new assistant defensive backs coach Vernon Dean. Nobody has ever questioned that Warfield had closing corner speed but he was not very instinctual and often he was out of positions to make plays.

He was a safety at Nebraska. The Chiefs knew that when they drafted Warfield that he would have to learn a new position. Warfield had to learn to stair down the eyes of the receiver in his new position. As a safety, especially in college, you read the eyes of the quarterback. In the NFL if you do that, you get burned in man coverage.

Warfield, McCleon and safeties Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley have been one of the prime reasons the Chiefs defense has improved each week. Yes they've given up huge chunks of yards but they've made plays in the red zone for the most part all season.

The front seven has been solid and their performance on Sunday Night was a direct reflection of the impact the Chiefs secondary had on the Bills receivers. Bledsoe had slim pickings and when his receivers were open, they were quickly smothered for short gains of five yards or less.

Now everyone expects the defense to get even better. They showed the NFL that they could stop a top shelf quarterback and running back. The Bills offense has shown flashes this year but the go-for-the-throat defense that Kansas City used on Sunday Night, will do nothing more than give them confidence to do the same the next four weeks.

With the Browns, Bengals, Raiders and Chargers up next, the Chiefs can use these four winnable games to improve their schemes and tighten up any holes on defense. With linebacker Mike Maslowski unlikely to play for at least one or two games, rookie Kawika Mitchell will get some opportunities to play middle linebacker.

Other players like rookie cornerback Julian Battle and injured former starter William Bartee needs work. In fact, Bartee was very effective blitzing from the nickel back slot on Sunday night and that is an area in which he can help the Chiefs. Bartee had the same problems as Warfield and Kansas City needs him to step up to add much needed depth in the secondary.

The Chiefs linebackers are so fast and strong that teams will start to counter that with many four wide receiver sets. It's the same philosophy that the Chiefs on offense against the Bills. There are no secrets in the NFL and Kansas City understands that they'll need a better performance by their defense to win in the post season.

As a team, the Chiefs defense wants to improve. They want to chase the no-name defense that led the 1972 Miami Dolphins to an undefeated season. But this team is unlikely to have the same name as their old AFC counterparts.

Warfield, McCleon, Woods, Wesley, Barber, Fujita, Holliday and Sims are making quite a name for themselves around the league. The Bills were sure tired of seeing them on the field on Sunday Night.

To their credit, the Chiefs defense did their best to get off the field after collecting seven turnovers. But they can't rest on their laurels after the bye-week. They need to learn from their win over the Bils because they still have room to improve.

The Chiefs coaching staff and players understand that and though they had a good solid game against the Bills, they are not where they want to be. If they have that kind of success over the next four weeks, then there is no stopping this team.


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