Though the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t exactly a serious contender for the upcoming season, and they probably won’t be competing in the playoffs anytime soon, but they do have a newly revamped running game that should be a good test for Tampa Bay’s long defense, especially up front.
We all witnessed Gerald McCoy battle through double teams throughout most of the team’s first preseason game, and because of that, we didn’t get to see him make too many plays. But unlike the Miami Dolphins, who have one of the best run-blocking units in the league, Kansas City’s offensive line is near the bottom when it comes to overall rankings. In a recent story on Yahoo! Sports written by Jason Cole, all 32 NFL teams were ranked according to their offensive lines. Miami received the fifth overall spot, while Kansas City nearly came in last at 31st overall. So what does this mean for Tampa Bay come Saturday’s contest against the Chiefs?
For starters, Tampa’s front four will hopefully get a lot of pressure from every angle, and I’d like to see a lot of pressure from the two rookie defensive tackles. Brian Price will be making his debut after being held out of the opener because of a strained hamstring, which should alleviate pressure off of McCoy.
The Chiefs have a good crop of talent in their backfield, consisting of Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and rookie Dexter McCluster. In their opening game of the preseason, Charles averaged 9.6 yards per carry, while McCluster averaged 5.0 yards. Free agent acquisition Thomas Jones didn’t get many carries in the game, finishing with just two touches in the game. Expect Jones to get a little more action against Tampa.
However, Tampa is coming off an impressive game against Miami’s rushing attack, which has been one of the better running units in the league the past couple of seasons. With just 50 yards let up against Miami’s rushing attack, Tampa appears to be moving in the right direction on defense.
Aside from the front four, Tampa will need their linebackers to contribute against the run. If Barrett Ruud can shed some blocks en route to the backfield, Kansas City will be seeing some negative plays and minimal yardage. His 142 tackles in 2009 is an impressive stat that can’t be overlooked, and he wouldn’t have amassed that total had he not been a reliable run stopper.
So what are your thoughts on the Tampa Bay defense, primarily against the run, and how do you see them performing against Kansas City’s running attack?