Chiefs owner Clark Hunt considers the teams 2017 season a success despite the playoff collapse and doesn’t blame Bob Sutton for their defensive issues. What does that mean for the 2018 season?
The Kansas City Chiefs are going into this offseason with a few more questions than answers. What will the defense look like next season? Why are the Chiefs keeping defensive coordinator Bob Sutton? Are they going to actually have cap space this offseason?
Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star talked to Chiefs owner Clark Hunt at the Super Bowl and was able to answer some of those questions. Hunt doesn’t consider this past season a failure as some of the fans do.
Obviously, blowing an 18-point lead in the second half of a playoff game isn’t going to win you many supporters. Hunt did have this to say about the season.
“We won the division — only the first time in the history of the franchise we’ve won two division championships in a row — we made the playoffs.”
In hindsight, he does have a point. The Chiefs did something that had never been done in the history of the franchise, and they did it despite the struggles of their defense. That defense ranked 28th in the league and was a big reason why fans wanted Sutton gone, but the Chiefs retained him. Head coach Andy Reid decides who stays and who goes on his staff, and Hunt trusts him implicitly.
The Chiefs essentially kept Sutton because they believe he was coaching this defense left-handed. Most of the teams problems defensively were because of personnel and not scheme. Reid knew it, Sutton knew it and GM Brett Veach knew it, and if they knew it this year then they knew it last year as well, which is probably a big reason why they let go of John Dorsey.
The Chiefs defense has been a very solid one under Bob Sutton. They’ve had a top seven scoring defense four out of the last five years and have been notably efficient in creating turnovers. Even with the struggles they had this season, their track record shows that this isn’t likely to become a recurring theme. They’re a bend but don’t break defense, and despite the amount of yards they give up, they don’t concede a lot of points.
But what does that mean for this offseason? First things first, if their problem was personnel then that’s where they will look to get better next season, and they’ve already made a step in that direction trading for defensive back Kendall Fuller. The Chiefs have been very good at evaluating talent in the draft and developing that talent, so it will be interesting to see who they draft with the few picks they have this year.
Second, they’ll have to address their salary cap issue, which can be easily fixed. They already saved $15.6 million by trading Alex Smith and can save more by cutting or restructuring a few of their veterans. Even with the trade, they’d only stand to have about eight million to spend this offseason. The Chiefs are not rebuilding — and they don’t need to. They didn’t have any depth last year, and you can bet they won’t make that same mistake again next season.
With Patrick Mahomes set to be the new starting quarterback the Chiefs are going to try and give him everything he needs to be successful. The only way to back up their claim that their struggles on defense were because of personnel is by making the necessary additions and/or subtractions. Veach has already gone after guys that he lobbied for while Dorsey was the GM, and his guys, so to speak, have performed with the exception of Fuller, who has yet to take the field in a Chiefs uniform.
If Veach continues this trend, the future looks even brighter than it was before. Veach clearly isn’t afraid of making the tough calls as shown by trading Smith. Don’t be surprised to see him make some other tough calls when creating cap space. They get Eric Berry back and they’ve acquired Fuller to go with with other possible defensive additions. The goal is to win the Super Bowl for this team, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get there.