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Eight Stats to Know About the Chiefs’ Defense in 2016

Posted Feb 13, 2017

A few facts and notes about the Chiefs’ defense last season

Despite injuries to key players along the front seven, a youthful Kansas City Chiefs defense still managed to put together one of the best defensive performances of any team in the NFL last season. 

Here are eight stats to know about what they accomplished:

1.     25.4 - The average age of the starting defense for the Chiefs in the playoffs

With key injuries to guys like linebacker Derrick Johnson, as well as defensive linemen Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard, not to mention the fact that linebacker Justin Houston played in just five games dealing with knee issues throughout the season, the Chiefs defense had to call upon some younger players.

In fact, the starting defense against the Steelers in the playoffs averaged an age of just 25.4 years old, and still held one of the league’s most potent offenses out of the end zone.

On the flipside, the average age of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense was 26.8 years old, including having seven players who were 27 or older, while the Chiefs had just three (Ron Parker-29, Eric Berry-28, Justin Houston-28).

The Chiefs had five players starting who were 24 years old or younger, led by cornerback Marcus Peters (24) and defensive lineman Chris Jones (22).

2.     91 – The number of times Marcus Peters was targeted last season 

As a rookie, cornerback Marcus Peters, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was targeted 151 times by opposing quarterbacks and had nine interceptions (including playoffs). Those numbers helped him win the NFL’s 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Peters came onto the scene like a playmaking freight train, and the question was going to be how teams would respond to his abilities after seeing how he performed as a rookie.

Well, the numbers suggest they learned their lesson and didn’t want to test him nearly as much, as Peters was targeted just 91 times last season, but he still managed to pick off six passes, force two fumbles and recover three, which tied for the team lead with safety Daniel Sorensen.

As it turned out, Peters followed up his impressive rookie campaign by being named a first-team All Pro last year.

3.     9.4 – The pass rushing productivity score for Chris Jones from Pro Football Focus

It’s not a surprise to say the Chiefs’ first pick of the 2016 NFL draft had a great rookie season—that’s obvious to anyone who watched—but the level of play, particularly in getting after the passer, wasn’t just good for a rookie; it was elite for anyone.

Chris Jones, the No. 37 overall pick for the Chiefs in the second round out of Mississippi State, had a phenomenal rookie season, which was made even more impressive by the need for him to contribute with early season injuries to starters Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard.

Jones was asked to step up, and he delivered. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was on the field for 341 pass rushing snaps last season, and he garnered a total of 42 pressures—giving him a 9.4 PRP (Pass Rushing Productivity) score—which ranked as the best for any 3-4 defensive end in the NFL last season.

PRP is a formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries (with hits and hurries three quarters the worth) relative to how many times a player rushes the passer.

For Jones, he finished with two sacks, eight hits and 32 quarterback hurries for a total of 42 pressures.

It’s not always a “sack” statistic that illustrates a player affecting what happens on the field, and at just 22 years old with that much of an impact this early in his career, the future looks bright for Jones.

4.     33 – The number of takeaways for the defense

Over the past couple of years, the Chiefs have created an identity that’s built around their ability to take the ball away from their opponents—regardless of how close they are to scoring.

“They’re not in until they’re in” is a phrase you’ll often hear the defensive players echo from the guy leading them, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.

That was again the case last season as the Chiefs led the NFL with 33 takeaways, including a league-leading eight coming inside the red zone.

5.     105 – Number of points scored off turnovers

The Chiefs finished third in the NFL last season with 105 points scored off turnovers, which accounted for 27 percent of their total points on the season (389).

Overall, the Chiefs had four touchdowns scored by defensive players (Eric Berry-2, Daniel Sorensen-1, Derrick Johnson-1), not to mention the NFL’s first ever pick-two by Berry against Atlanta, which proved to be the game-winner against the eventual NFC champions.

6.     19.4 – Number of points the Chiefs allowed per game

For the fourth straight season, the Chiefs finished in the top six in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 19.4 points per game last season.

Since the start of the 2013 season, Sutton has actually led the Chiefs defense to the second-fewest number of points allowed overall—averaging just 18.5 points per game in 64 regular-season games.

7.     8 – The number of takeaways safety Daniel Sorensen was involved with last season 

With a defensive backfield that showcases two first-team All-Pros in Berry and Peters, one of the guys who might not get the credit he deserves is third-year safety and former undrafted free agent out of BYU, Daniel Sorensen.

Sorensen played 541 snaps for the defense and racked up 63 total tackles, which ranked fifth on the team, but perhaps the most telling stat of Sorensen’s season was the fact that the was involved with eight game-changing takeaways.

He finished with three interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, which put him only second on the team behind Peters’ 10 total takeaway plays (6 INTs, 1 FF, 3 FR).

Sorensen was often playing in the box for Sutton’s defensive scheme as the Chiefs’ dime linebacker, which is a unique position that he’s found a niche for this past season.

Sorensen was part of the impressive undrafted free agent class by general manager John Dorsey in 2014, which also included running back Charcandrick West and kicker Cairo Santos.

8.     1,106 – Number of defensive snaps played in 2016 by Ron Parker, which led the Chiefs 

Snap Counts for Chiefs Defense in 2016

Player

Position

Snaps

Snap Pct

38-Ron Parker

DB

1106

98.8%

29-Eric Berry

DB

1085

97.0%

20-Steve Nelson

DB

1012

90.4%

22-Marcus Peters

DB

1010

90.3%

56-Derrick Johnson

LB

844

75.4%

92-Dontari Poe

DL

821

73.4%

55-Dee Ford

LB

798

71.3%

91-Tamba Hali

LB

596

53.3%

95-Chris Jones

DL

574

51.3%

49-Daniel Sorensen

DB

541

48.3%

53-Ramik Wilson

LB

524

46.8%

51-Frank Zombo

LB

490

43.8%

23-Phillip Gaines

DB

450

40.2%

96-Jaye Howard

DL

359

32.1%

50-Justin Houston

LB

295

26.4%

99-Rakeem Nunez-Roches

DL

286

25.6%

39-Terrance Mitchell

DB

239

21.4%

98-Kendall Reyes

DL

199

17.8%

97-Allen Bailey

DL

180

16.1%

59-Justin March-Lillard

LB

162

14.5%

27-Kenneth Acker

DB

149

13.3%

24-D.J. White

DB

136

12.2%

94-Jarvis Jenkins

DL

132

11.8%

21-Eric Murray

DB

64

5.7%

77-T.J. Barnes

DL

63

5.6%

57-D.J. Alexander

LB

48

4.3%

48-Terrance Smith

LB

40

3.6%

75-Nick Williams

DL

39

3.5%

52-Dadi Nicolas

LB

28

2.5%

54-Dezman Moses

LB

16

1.4%

93-David King

DL

9

0.8%

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