Chiefs defense has offered equal opportunity struggles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The constant source of consternation for weeks for those who follow the Kansas City Chiefs has been their run defense, which instead of a steel curtain has more closely resembled a waterfall.

Yes, there is some resistance. Just not a whole lot.

But the reality for Kansas City is that the pass defense has been just as bad, both areas ranked 30th in the league and together contributing to the 31st-ranked unit.

And perhaps more than any reason, including what had been a potent offense going quiet, that is why the Chiefs have lost three of their past four games.

It's hard to win when you allow more than 400 yards a game.

"We've got a bunch of areas that we've got to do better," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

"We've got to make sure that we're doing a better job in (both) those areas. If you put everything into the run, then it's going to be too full. You've got the run, you've got the pass game - you've got to do both.

"So that's what we're attempting to do," he said, "be better at all positions and all phases."

That sounds a whole lot like lip service, but Reid isn't straying far from the truth. The Chiefs need to more closely resemble the group that helped them to a 5-0 start, allowing 365.7 yards during their wins, than the bunch that allowed an average of 439.7 yards during their three losses.

It's not necessarily a function of the opponent, either.

The Chiefs held Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to 371 yards in their Week 1 victory in Foxborough.

They held decent offenses from the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Redskins to 330 and 331 yards, respectively. The Denver Broncos managed 364 yards in the Chiefs' only win over the past month.

Meanwhile, the lowly Oakland Raiders gouged them for 505. The Pittsburgh Steelers piled up 439 yards.

"We've got to do better. We did for who we played in the last game," said Reid, whose team allowed 375 in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

"We held them under 100 yards (rushing), which not a lot of people have. You can take something from that. The consistency is what we need on both sides of the ball."

It hasn't helped the Chiefs defense that most of their injuries have been on that side of the ball.

Justin Houston has been slowed by a series of minor ailments. So has most of their defensive line, including Allen Bailey, the big defensive tackle who could miss Sunday's game against the Giants.

Throw in the season-ending injury to safety Eric Berry in Week 1 and it's been a patchwork bunch for coordinator Bob Sutton.

But to his credit, Sutton hasn't made any excuses. Neither has anybody else on his staff.

"Play has been up and down. That's part of this league," said longtime NFL defensive back Al Harris, who now works with the Chiefs' secondary. "Obviously, we have to get better and make more plays and prevent the big play from happening. The bye week (came) at a good time to go back and self-evaluate and correct some things."

The Chiefs certainly aren't saying what those things might be.

Why give any kind of edge to future opponents?

But speaking of future opponents, it helps the Chiefs' cause - and the defense's cause, for that matter - that their schedule down the stretch is littered with no-hopes and also-rans.

After the Giants come the reeling Buffalo Bills, then a trip to the struggling New York Jets. The Raiders, Chargers and Broncos still loom, but the AFC West is turning out to be down this season. And a game against Miami is at home in December, when it's nice and cold.

In other words, the schedule is stacking up perfectly for the Chiefs defense to get on track, and for the entire team to make a push toward a second straight division title and first-round playoff bye.

NOTES: Bailey (knee) missed practice again Thursday, as did LB Dee Ford (back), WR Albert Wilson and LB Tamba Hali (knee). But Sutton indicated Hali could play against the Giants, and the Chiefs were merely being cautious with him. He returned from the PUP list just prior to playing against Dallas.


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FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, file photo, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving, left, sacks Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas. The Chiefs hope a week off can serve as a reset to their season. They began 5-0 before losing three of their last four, and quarterback Alex Smith even threw an interception in a loss to Dallas just before the bye. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File) The Associated Press
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