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Analysis: Is the Chiefs pass rush ready for 2016?

So the preseason games have finished and all NFL teams have cut their rosters down from 75 to 53. Now the dust has settled, which areas do the Chiefs need to be worried about most going into the 2016 season?

One thing is for sure, the Chiefs 2-2 record in preseason isn’t dazzling, but it’s the performances in all four games that needs to be acknowledged the most. Even in the loses to the Seahawks and the Rams, the Chiefs commanded the game for three quarters, with their starters and second string getting a brief look out. This is obviously very encouraging regardless of what happens late into the forth quarters, because clearly the Chiefs have a lot of depth in key areas.

As we all know, there is always room for improvement, and the area that concerned the Chiefs the most prior to the 2016 Draft is the Corner Back spot opposite Marcus Peters. Having filled this hole with three CB’s in the Draft, the Chiefs looked to have pieced together an unstoppable force going into the new season.

However, having a collection of CB’s to fill a problematic spot is one thing, but it’s what you’re doing at the front end to try to stop the arial threat in the first place that needs to be addressed the most.

With top pass rushers like Justin Houston and Tamba Hali starting the season on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform) the Chiefs suddenly find themselves covering one wound, only to find another one opening up right behind them.

Players like Dee Ford and Dadi Nicolas are suddenly now the only legitimate pass rushing threat the Chiefs have, until the “star players” return. However, during preseason Dee Ford has looked mediocre at best! Whilst on the flip side, Dadi Nicolas has impressed the coaching staff with his relentless ability to hunt down QB’s by bending his runs around the oppositions offensive tackle.

You can’t deny it, Dee Ford looks to be a weak threat if you simply assess his preseason performances. However, Ford managed to impress during the latter stages of last season, “so maybe he’s just a big game player?” I hear you ask. That maybe the case, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

During the 1990’s, the Chiefs coaching staff had a particularly frustrating Outside Linebacker that couldn’t take training seriously and wouldn’t pull out all the stops to prove his place on the roster, let alone a starting position! But come game day, he became the most ferocious OLB in Chiefs history. I’m obviously referring to the legend that is, Derrick Thomas.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing Dee Ford with a legend like Thomas, but my point is that sometimes you get players that simply don’t get themselves up for ‘nothing’ games or long drawn out training schedules, they simply can’t do it. They live for the big time, they come alive when I matters most.

Comparing the Dee Ford of last season, to the Dee Ford of this preseason, in my eyes, is wrong, but it’s the only thing we have to assess him. The lad clearly has talent, but the Chiefs coaching staff needs to harness his talents for when it matters most. It wouldn’t surprise me that in Week 1 of the regular season, we’re singing Dee Ford’s praises again like we did at the back end of the 2015 season when he got his chance to shine. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t give up on the guy just yet.

Whilst we’re drawing comparisons with current OLB’s and Derrick Thomas, did anyone see glimpses of Thomas in Dadi Nicolas’ bending run against the Packers? I know a number of Chiefs forums mentioned this in passing, so I thought I’d just hang it out there.  Again, I’m not saying the Chiefs have found the next Derrick Thomas, but Nicolas does seem to have the knack of emulating his rushing style.

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