While there are plenty of players on the Kansas City Chiefs who get lots of attention from Chiefs Kingdom, linebacker Anthony Hitchens deserves more than he gets.
On Wednesday's Roughing the Kicker, Arrowhead Report's Jordan Foote joined me to talk about which Chiefs players deserve more credit than they get.
One of the first people that I thought of was Hitchens. He has been solid for the Chiefs' defense as he has learned defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system for the past three seasons.
As each year has gone by, Hitchens has gotten better and more confident. In Year 1 with Kansas City, Hitchens played 80% of snaps in former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's 3-4 defense. Hitchens recorded 135 tackles as a left inside linebacker in 2018.
After Sutton left and Spagnuolo took over, Hitchens took a step back in the production department as his role was somewhat increased. Now focused more on the tactics as a 4-3 MIKE linebacker, Hitchens recorded 88 tackles while only playing in 63% of defensive snaps in 2019.
For the first time in three years, Hitchens was going into the second year of a defensive system. In the second season with Spagnulo, it was apparent Hitchens had become more comfortable. Despite missing some time in the COVID-19 protocol, Hitchens became an important part of the Chiefs' defense.
Statistical production doesn't tell the full story of the 29-year-old linebacker, though. He captained Kansas City's defense as he was crucial in helping rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and others get lined up properly. There was clearly a difference in the defense with him on the field.
While second-round pick Nick Bolton is waiting in the wings, some of Chiefs Kingdom is ready to push Hitchens out of the door. As he likely enters his final year in Kansas City, fans need to appreciate what he brings to the team in terms of tactics and alignment. Hitchens has been incredibly reliable and a difference-maker in the linebacking corps as he's become more comfortable in the system. Don't take for granted what Hitchens has done.
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