Defense needs to have sense of urgency

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed at least 425 yards in each of their past four games, a stunning statistic given where they started the season defensively. Putting that into perspective, you need to go back to the franchise’s dark days in the late 1970s (1976, to be exact) to find a time where they allowed 425 yards or more in four straight games.

The extent of Kansas City’s defensive collapse is stunning to the point where nobody could have forecast that. But there were signs throughout the Chiefs’ nine-game winning streak that some tough times were ahead.

The Chiefs were pressuring and sacking the quarterback at a record pace, and it was only a matter of time before opponents adjusted. They have, many times with quicker throws. The resulting flow of turnovers has also slowed accordingly.

The Chiefs all season have allowed big offensive plays, the result of the pressure style they favor. It’s common sense that if they continue to allow those big plays while making few of their own on defense, this thing could get ugly.

If they’re not going to get back to what they were early in the season with regard to pressuring the quarterback and causing mistakes and turnovers, they need to at least stem what at times has been a steady torrent of big plays.

“Sometimes when you win, stuff isn’t magnified,’’ said linebacker Derrick Johnson, suggesting the Chiefs can indeed do that. “You messed up here, you got out of a gap there, it’s just covered up a little bit because you won. But we’ve lost, and stuff we weren’t doing as good as early in the year is magnified. We’re trying to fix it. There’s a little more emphasis on what you did wrong.

“We’ve went against the best quarterback in the league (in two of their last three games). No excuses. We know where we need to get better. There’s a sense of urgency to do that.’’

Sure, the Chiefs were picked apart by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who seem to do that against all opponents. So on some level there’s no shame in the Chiefs allowing that to happen, too.

But that ignores a couple of key points. The first is that these Chiefs were in many ways built to compete with the Broncos. They have (or want to have) a pressure-oriented defense that can disrupt a quarterback, whether it’s a time-tested veteran like Manning or a rookie. They Chiefs acquired a couple of big cornerbacks in Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper so they could match up with Denver’s big wide receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.

The other is that the Chiefs played a couple of other quarterbacks besides Manning in those awful four games. One, Buffalo’s Jeff Tuel, is an undrafted rookie making his first NFL start. The Chiefs still had trouble delivering the Bills a knockout punch.

The other was another time-tested veteran, Philip Rivers. The Chiefs played against Rivers and the San Diego Chargers like they had never seen a crossing route.

Time is running out on the Chiefs. They have four games to get this thing fixed before their season takes a more serious turn. They need to use that time wisely.