The age-old saying is that life is all about balance. For the Kansas City Chiefs, that's only partially true.
It's common knowledge that the Chiefs boast one of the NFL's best offenses. Led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it outgained every other offense in the league in total yards last season. It did the same thing two years prior as well, when Mahomes and company led the league in scoring. Dominance isn't a new concept for them.
The Chiefs' defense has managed to become solid under Steve Spagnuolo. It ranked 16th — right in the middle of the pack — in yards allowed last season and was 10th in scoring after being seventh the year before. These finishes are far from elite but when considering how good the unit on the other side of the football is, they're good enough to win a lot of football games.
Heading into the 2021 campaign, the Chiefs know what their strong suit is. Star power galore on offense allows them to put up points in bunches, while solid overall personnel and good coaching allow the defense to stay afloat. Conner Christopherson of Arrowhead Report joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to discuss whether a top-10 offense and defense can both be attained by the team this season.
In its simplest form, the answer comes down to the likelihood of the latter occurring. Barring something completely unforeseen, the Chiefs are going to finish the season with one of the five or six best offenses in all of football. Mahomes and All-Pro weapons Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, as well as an improved offensive line, are too much for opposing teams to handle. Where things get interesting is on defense.
Did the Chiefs do enough throughout the offseason to improve on defense? That remains to be seen. The team is rolling the dice on a young and largely unproven cornerback group after letting a reliable veteran in Bashaud Breeland walk via free agency. That, in and of itself, is grounds for worry.
Additionally, the defensive end group isn't much better than it was heading into last season. Instead of drafting an edge early or adding a premier free agent, the Chiefs signed defensive tackle Jarran Reed so Chris Jones could transition to a part-time role on the outside. Jones could play well as a moveable chess piece but the jury is still out on that, too.
The offseason adds of linebacker Nick Bolton and cornerback Mike Hughes should help. Reed is a good player as well, and he figures to bring stability to a defensive line rotation that needs it. With that said, there's some uncertainty to be had at various levels of the Chiefs' defense. Tenth or better is a high bar to reach.
At the end of the day, though, the Chiefs won't need a top-10 defense to complement their lethal offensive attack. They've proved that they can win with merely a solid Spagnuolo-led unit featuring stars such as Jones and Tyrann Mathieu. Mahomes and his peers are a well-oiled machine and if they're rolling on all cylinders throughout the year, another near-average defensive season should help propel the team to another deep playoff run.
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