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After Slow Start, the Chiefs’ Defense Continues to Grow Stronger

The Chiefs' defense got off to a rough start this season, but it has really stiffened in recent weeks.

As the 2021 season moves along, the Kansas City Chiefs' defense just keeps getting better and better. There was someone who wrote an article just before the season started, saying a few things about how the Chiefs' defense could be a top 10 unit and a big reason the team gets back to the Super Bowl. Hindsight is 20/20, but I'm back to tell you that perhaps the initial assessment was correct.

When the season first began, there were a few things the Chiefs' defense needed to overcome. First, it was Willie Gay Jr. being placed on the injured reserve list. He missed the first month of the season, thus placing Ben Niemann on the field for plenty of snaps.

Secondly, Frank Clark was dealing with some issues both on and off the field. He’s mentioned that mentally, he wasn’t fully present at all times. There were also some nagging injuries he was dealing with at the start of the season, limiting him quite a bit. Chris Jones, Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton also missed a few games during the first part of the season when the defense wasn’t looking quite right.

Lastly, for some inexplicable reason, Daniel Sorensen was getting starting reps on defense and Juan Thornhill wasn’t seeing the field very often at all. This ensued until Week 6, when Sorensen was finally moved to the bench in favor of Thornhill.

All of these issues needed to be addressed before the Chiefs could turn things around. Some of the problems that the team dealt with could be resolved with a simple change of personnel. Others required players returning to full health.

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When the Chiefs' defense is at full strength and everyone is bought in, it resembles the unit I thought it would be heading into the season. In fact, it could be even better than what I anticipated thanks to the midseason addition of defensive end Melvin Ingram.

It’s been exciting to watch Ingram and see how he has brought the defense to another level. His pass-rushing prowess is still very good and his run-stopping ability has been impressive over the past few weeks. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo says Ingram “plays angry” and brings that angry side out of those around him as well.

In the first eight games of the season, the Chiefs had 11 sacks. Since bringing Ingram into the rotation, they have eight sacks in four games. Ingram is a true difference-maker, and the rest of the defense is stepping up their game to match his intensity.

The Chiefs' defense was allowing 32.6 points per game in Weeks 1-5 of the season. Since then, it has allowed a measly 13.7 points per game. With the offense struggling a bit over that stretch, that level of defensive dominance will certainly play. The turnaround is incredible, and it's one that seems to be unprecedented in such a short span.

If the Chiefs' offense can get back to what many believe it can be — a unit that can score around 30 points per game — then there is a good possibility this team doesn’t lose again this season. Yes, that includes the playoffs.

The offense and defense have not aligned to perform well together at the same time this season. If both units can get on the same page, it’s game over for the rest of the league. No one in the NFL will be able to beat the Chiefs if that's the case.

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