The slow starts for the Chiefs’ defense remain a problem, and if veteran end Alex Okafor had an easy answer it would have been applied by now.
“There are a couple of issues — there’s not one fix,” Okafor said Thursday. “If there was one fix, it would have happened sooner. We’re grinding away at these issues.”
One of them is run defense, and Okafor, who has played about 48% of the team’s defensive snaps, said he’s seen progress. After getting gouged for 251 yards on the ground by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2, the Chiefs haven’t allowed more than 121 in a game.
Not great, but not getting trucked, either.
Opponents continue to test the Chiefs on the ground. But they’ve responded with such efforts as a 3.9-rushing yards-allowed average against Washington, and holding the NFL’s rushing leader, Derrick Henry of the Titans, under 100 yards.
“I felt like at Tennessee, we did a lot of things well,” Okafor said. “It just sucks that it didn’t show up on the scoreboard. More than anything, we’re encouraged.”
The problem was, any good that happened defensively last week was negated by Tennessee’s fast start. The Titans went on touchdown drives that covered 75 and 97 yards to open the game, and scored on every one of their first-half possessions to lead 27-0 at halftime.
Yes, the Chiefs’ defense pitched a second-half shutout. But by then, the game was over. And heading into a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants next, the Chiefs now rank 29th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense.
Their eight sacks as a team equals the Jacksonville Jaguars for last place in the league.
“We have to start fast,” Okafor said. “The past couple of weeks, we closed extremely well. We have to find a way to start faster. That’s the story across the whole team, not just the defense.”
OK, so how does that happen?
“If I had the answer, we’d have started fast three weeks ago,” Okafor said.