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Chiefs Are Winning Because Of The Defense But The Pass Rush Is Inconsistent

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The Chiefs pass rush has been inconsistent but the Chiefs are still winning because of the defense.

The Kansas City Chiefs are two games into the 2010 regular season and aren't yet consistently getting to the quarterback.

The Chiefs defense has two sacks -- both of them in Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers. Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel talked about how you can tell if a quarterback is being pressured.

"Well, if you get the quarterback on the ground that is one way you can judge it. But then you have to look and see if you affect the quarterback in your rushes. Does he have to get off the spot? Does he miss throws because a guy has a hand in his face? All those kind of things impact the quarterback."

In Week 1, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers often had lots of time to read the field and make a play. The Chiefs sacked him twice but overall the pass rush was not a consistent force. In Week 2, the Chiefs faced Seneca Wallace who is a little more mobile and didn't sack him.

Neither game, I would say, was the pass rush a big problem for the opponent.

The bad news is that the Chiefs are on pace for just 16 sacks, which would be below 2009's 22-sack performance. The good news is that while the Chiefs aren't getting sacks, they are making a difference.

Crennel talked about the kinds of things you can do to make a difference on the quarterback without actually getting a sack.

"Sure, definitely you can and I think that is what you have to impress upon your team that you can affect the quarterback and still be a good rusher even though the sack total may not be what you want it to be."

We'll call this the Tamba Hali rule. In 2009, he was among the league's best at pressuring the quarterback. While he may not have been getting the sacks he arguably deserved, he was making a difference. A trend developed last year while listening to the opposing quarterbacks and coaches on their weekly teleconferences with the Kansas City media. It seems that all of them would mention Tamba Hali as a guy they noticed on the Chiefs defense.

Meanwhile the 49ers are doing a solid job of protecting Alex Smith. He's been sacked just twice -- two in Week 1 against Seattle and zero against New Orleans.

Regardless of whether the Chiefs are getting to the quarterback enough, they're 2-0 and it's largely because of the defense. Sacks or not, they're giving up just 14 points per game. Getting to the quarterback more often would likely lead to more mistakes that the defense can capitalize on but, as it is now, the Chiefs can win a lot of games holding the opponent to 14 points.

So is the pass rush a concern? Maybe not a huge one at the moment but developing a unit that can consistently get to the quarterback should be a priority for the Chiefs.