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Why has it taken so long to shut down the Chiefs’ passing attack?

Thoughts on why the Kansas City Chiefs offense was obliterated by the Tampa Bay Bucs

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Many in Broncos Country enjoyed watching the Kansas City Chiefs get completely dismantled in Super Bowl 55. The big talk after the game was how the Tampa Bay Bucs did it. I’ve always loved great defense, so let’s take a moment to dig a little deeper and maybe shed some light on why this hasn’t happened before this past weekend.

  • They used a 4 man rush.
  • They kept a cover-2 shell the majority of the game.
  • Their safeties lined up deeper than what is standard.
  • Their coverage played to deny outside throws to the boundary.

That seems pretty formulaic, does it not? Just check the boxes and you hold the chefs to under 20, no problem. So now there’s a “blueprint” out there on how to shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Let’s hold our horses just a little bit though. That first bullet point gives me quite a pause for a couple of reasons.

  1. The Bucs have one of the best 4 man defense fronts in the NFL
  2. The Chiefs were missing their two starting tackles

Either one of these alone cause me to roll my eyes with talk of “blueprints” and our division rival’s being “figured out.”

Now add in that Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL today and let’s add another shovel full of caution to the pile.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. I do think there was something that Todd Bowles showed to the NFL and it may cause some teams to rethink both their scheme and their personnel choices.

First off, their safeties lining up so deep was a HUGE key to disrupting the deep game of the Chiefs. Normally, that’s a gargantuan problem in today’s NFL because there are so many short to intermediate options mixed in on any given play call that it leaves you susceptible to large gaps in coverage underneath.

But the key behind that safety depth was the type and capability of linebackers that Tampa Bay utilized in the middle of their defense. Devin White and Lavonte David are both smaller, faster, and better in coverage than your standard NFL linebackers. They utilize their lateral quickness and play with excellent technique that helps take away all the underneath stuff that is built in behind deep passing concepts.

Where does that leave us under Vic Fangio would be the next logical part of the discussion. We have a couple of problems here as well:

  1. We utilize a 3-4 front that has not shown anywhere near the same level of effectiveness as Tampa’s
  2. Our cornerback situation leaves much to be desired (though I do believe we have the safties we need as of today in Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson)
  3. Our inside linebackers are almost complete opposites from the aforementioned Bucs linebackers. They are both at least 20 lbs larger and more effective at run blocking (though Alexander Johnson has shown the goods in pass coverage)

Hit us up in the comments and let us know your armchair thoughts on Denver being able to use some of the schemes that the Bucs employed to become Super Bowl champions.

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