After five or six years of watching one of the worst defenses in NFL history, it's nice to see a unit on the field that can actually be depended on to do their job.
A lot of that has to do with head coach Herm Edwards. From the moment he got here two years ago, he's made the defense his focus, and it shows. This defense is light years ahead of the one the Chiefs fielded a mere three years ago, and has everyone around the team thinking back to the Chiefs defenses of the ‘90s, when they were perennially among the NFL's best.
Here are the defensive grades at the turn:
Defensive Line - A
It's tough to say which unit has been playing the best for the Chiefs, the defensive line or the linebackers, but for right now, I'd have to give a slight edge to the defensive line, but only because of the lights-out play of defensive end Jared Allen and defensive tackle Alfonso Boone.
Allen has practically stamped his ticket to the Pro Bowl already, even after missing the first two games of the season due a suspension. Right now, he's second in the NFL in sacks and was just voted Player of the Month for October. Tamba Hali has been solid this year, and the two newest Chiefs, Tank Tyler and Turk McBride, are learning the ropes quickly.
Linebackers - A-
After fielding one of the worst linebacker corps in the NFL in 2004, the Chiefs now have one of the NFL's best linebacker corps just three years later. Donnie Edwards, Derrick Johnson and Napoleon Harris are playing about as well as anyone as a unit in the NFL.
Edwards has been the drum major for this defense since arriving in the spring, and despite his age, he's moving around like a fourth-year player. Johnson has come into his own, blossoming into the player the Chiefs envisioned he'd be when they drafted him three years ago. Harris is as solid a Cover 2 middle linebacker as there is in the NFL.
Secondary - C+
The defensive backfield has been up and down this season thus far, looking like a championship caliber unit one moment, and then looking like lost kids the next. Cornerback Patrick Surtain has been solid all season, and so has safety Jarrad Page. Page is a second-year player who gets it. He's watched the film, he's put in the work, and because of that, he finds himself in position to make plays as much as anyone else on the defense.
Fellow safety Bernard Pollard is improving incrementally, but has struggled at times. Greg Wesley has been a stabilizer to this young group of safeties. Ty Law has been picked on in the passing game some weeks, and in others has been a target in the running game.
Drum Beats: Midpoint Grades, Part II
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