Sacks from the 3-4 Defense

August 11th, 2009 by Lee Eldridge

Mike VrabelIn 2008, the Chiefs were dead last in the league with 10 sacks, setting an NFL record for fewest sacks ever recorded during a 16-game season. Much was made during the off-season that the Chiefs needed to find a replacement for defensive end Jared Allen, who had been traded to the Vikings prior to the ’08 season.

As the Chiefs are implementing a similar model to what New England has been so successful with, I was curious about the Patriots’ ability to get to the quarterback. These individual stats were pulled from NFL.com. Typically I had to sift through the list of NFL sack leaders before stumbling upon a Patriot.

2008 – Richard Seymour 8 sacks
2007 – Mike Vrabel 12.5 sacks
2006 – Roosevelt Colvin 8.5 sacks
2005 – Roosevelt Colvin 7 sacks
2004 – Willie McGinest 9.5 sacks
2003 – Mike Vrabel 9.5 sacks
2002 – Willie McGinest 5.5 sacks

Notice that Mike Vrabel was the only Patriot to exceed 10 sacks during the last several years in New England. I think we have to change our mindset as Chiefs’ fans. We had Derrick and Neil rushing from the outside in a 4-3 (though there were times they tried to pretend it was a 3-4 with Derrick at LB). Then we had Jared creating sacks from the 4-3.

With the 3-4 in New England, sacks typically don’t come from the three down linemen, though Seymour did lead the team with 8 sacks last year. The Patriots spread their sacks out across a lot of different blitzers. Not just the outside linebackers, but cornerbacks and safeties too.

Clancy Pendergast, the Chiefs’ new defensive coordinator, has the reputation for being aggressive and inventive. The Chiefs switch to the 3-4 will take time. They don’t yet have the best personnel for the system. And there’s the learning curve involved with the implementation of a new defense. But I do expect the Chiefs to do a better job this year at getting after the quarterback.

Who will lead the Chiefs in sacks? My bet is on Vrabel.

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