KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs are thriving with a defense that has made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. They lead the league in sacks, and almost always play tight coverage in the secondary.
There’s often a downside to that type of system: penalties. Strong pass-rushing teams generally jump offside a lot in trying to guess the snap count while those who play plenty of man-press coverage tend to pile up the holding, illegal contact and pass-interference penalties.
So maybe the most remarkable thing about Kansas City’s defense is the Chiefs, while playing with abandon, are also playing with discipline. The 4-0 Chiefs have been penalized on defense just four times. They’ve had two games with no penalties and, not coincidentally, they allowed no points to the opposing offense in one of those games and seven in the other.
The Chiefs aren’t beating themselves. In the NFL, that goes a long way.
“I can’t give you an exact percentage, but when you have a defensive penalty on a drive, the percentages of scoring go up dramatically, especially if it’s a major penalty," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “So those are big for us."
That’s all well and good, but putting it into practice is much more difficult. The Chiefs have done it. They’ve had a handful of defensive penalties, which helped their overall number.
Still, they haven’t jumped offside once. They have two holding penalties, one for illegal contact and one for grabbing the facemask of an opponent.
“We try to coach them up a little bit on who’s the officiating crew each week and what (penalties it often calls)," Sutton said. “You have to adapt to how a game is being called. If it’s tight, you’d better adjust to what’s happening."
Those are tactics all teams try. The Chiefs are successfully making them work. Discipline usually comes down to strong coaching, and this is yet another indication the Chiefs are being coached well.