The Kansas City Chiefs' defense has — quite literally — gotten off to one of the worst starts to a season in NFL history. Many players have struggled to replicate their previous level of play, and that certainly applies to veteran safety Daniel Sorensen. Many anticipated throughout the week that a personnel change to Juan Thornhill may occur, and that speculation became official on Sunday.
Ahead of the Chiefs' matchup against the Washington Football Team, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Chiefs plan on making the switch from Sorensen to Thornhill for Week 6 and beyond. This stems from Sorensen's extended struggles with tackling (whiffing on over 20% of his chances) and performing adequately in coverage. Here's more of what Rapoport had to say:
The highly anticipated move comes on the heels of a brutal loss to the Bills that saw Sorensen struggle mightily during important moments. Sorensen gave up a 61-yard pass to Stefon Diggs to make way for a Buffalo field goal, then allowed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox, with the Bills tight end slipping past the last line of defense.
With the Chiefs defense currently 31st in yards and 32nd in points allowed, Thornhill won't cure all. But the former second-rounder, who burst onto the scene as a rookie to look like a budding star, will help.
It remains to be seen just how much this alteration will affect the Chiefs' defense, but Steve Spagnuolo's unit needs something to improve. 2021 has seen the group struggled in multiple facets of the game despite having solid talent across the board. Injuries and underperforming veterans have played a big role in that, so perhaps some positive regression is in the cards.
For Thornhill, this is a tremendous opportunity. He's seen his snap counts fluctuate ever since returning from a torn ACL. Last season, he played through some pain and discomfort and didn't look like the 2019 rookie year version of himself until late in the season. He has yet to break out this season but with a starting role now in front of him, this could be his time to shine.