The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 defense has not been bad by any means, but it has allowed 20 points or more in every game this season.
Some of these results have come in garbage time during blowouts, and others have been razor-thin margins and late-game losses. The fact remains, this defense still has a lot of room for improvement after the bye week — especially in one area in particular.
Analyst Suggests Danny Shelton Over Derrick Nnadi
Arrowhead Pride film expert Ron Kopp Jr. noted the troubling defensive trend on Twitter. “The Chiefs defense ranks 32nd in ESPN’s team run stop win rate,” he relayed. “The last 3 weeks have plummeted what looked like a solid run defense, but I just think they weren’t tested until the Raiders game.”
Kopp even had a suggestion of how the Chiefs may try to remedy the situation. “Wouldn’t be surprised to see a shake-up, like Danny Shelton replacing Derrick Nnadi [at defensive tackle].”
Obviously, ranking last in any category is never a good thing, but some fans tried to rationalize the statistic. One commented: “We’re giving up 92 yds per game. The last 3 games is 127 per game with 101 in the 49ers game. The worst of these games was the Vegas game with [Josh] Jacobs running all over us and the [Buffalo] numbers are skewed with [Josh] Allen’s rushing ability. We’ve been pretty good against the run this year.”
Others referenced the absence of starting linebacker Willie Gay Jr.
While all that seems fair, Kopp is offering a way that Kansas City could try and get better and his assessment is definitely on point according to the analytics. Nnadi is the Chiefs’ worst-graded defender on Pro Football Focus outside of fellow DT Taylor Stallworth — who has only played 14 snaps. The 2018 third-rounder has earned a 32.5 out of 100 so far.
Not crazy about PFF grades? We hear you, so let’s dive deeper.
In seven starts this season, Nnadi has zero tackles for a loss. As a pass rusher, he also has no sacks or quarterback hits.
He’s supposed to be on the field for his run defense though, and those metrics are downright terrible. Nnadi has only been credited with three key defensive stops compared to two missed tackles.
Even more concerning is his average depth of tackle. Other Chiefs front-line defenders like Frank Clark, Chris Jones and George Karlaftis have an average depth of tackle under two yards — meaning they bring down the opposition before they can gain more than a couple of yards (on average). Nnadi’s average depth of tackle is 4.5 yards, which is poor for a defensive tackle.
Shelton is an enormous lane clogger who is known for his run defense. At the very least, his presence should help linemates like Jones break free more often.
Nnadi is one of the longest-tenured Chiefs on this defense and sentimental fans may not love the idea of replacing him, but when you look at the film and the numbers he’s just not getting the job done. Kopp might be right, it could be time for a “shake-up.”