Chiefs have some room to grow defensively

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's much talk surrounding the offense of the Kansas City Chiefs and how it needs to be more productive if the Chiefs are to remain undefeated much longer or win the AFC West.

Bob Sutton hasn't given up on the Chiefs improving on defense. The Chiefs are at or near the top of the league defensively in several key statistical categories. Most importantly, they have allowed fewer points than any other team.

Sutton, the defensive coordinator, said he believes the Chiefs can give him even more.

“I don't think you ever start out thinking you're going to be this or you're going to be that,'' Sutton said. “It's a process where you're trying to stack these bricks. It's about finding some way to improve just a little bit (every day).

“It's a long, hard process, but I think if you can do that ... we can put all those small improvements together and that allows you to keep ascending. You're not going to make these quantum leaps, but we can edge forward.''

He's right. There's no realistic way the Chiefs can be better on defense in the fourth quarter, when they've routinely strangled opponents. They probably won't continue on their current pace for sacks. With 36, they are on pace to tie the NFL's single-season record. After facing a steady diet of backup quarterbacks, the season's final seven weeks will have them going up against, among others, Peyton Manning twice, Philip Rivers twice, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

But there are some areas where the Chiefs can be better. They have allowed 24 pass plays of 20 or more yards. A few of those are byproducts of the aggressive manner in which the Chiefs play defense and are unavoidable, but some can be traced to bad matchups or individual breakdowns.

The Chiefs are allowing exactly 5 yards per first-down play, an average that certainly can improve. The Chiefs also allow a generous 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, though that figure is bloated by some long runs by the opposing quarterback.

So, yeah, we're being picky here. But there is room for growth defensively and it's reasonable to think the Chiefs can get there.