There's a lot of angst at the moment regarding the defensive play this last week against the Chiefs. I want to take a couple moments to help you take a breath and consider all the facts so the cries to dismantle the defense will cease and you can turn your scorn toward a more appropriate target.
Fact 1: The Defense only gave up 19 points.
Now I know there were some broken plays for a lot of yards (and we'll get to those in a minute), but the fact remains that through a combination of great goal line play and good defensive play calling the Chiefs were held to just 19 points in 6 trips to the red zone.
Take a look at Week 14 (last week). There were 12 out of 32 NFL teams who failed to score 19 points. Lets take a look at them: The Browns, The Chiefs, The Bucs, The Colts, The Steelers, The Dolphins, The Titans, The Raiders, The Bears, The Broncos, The Bills and The Rams. There are only 2 teams on that list who are playoff bound: The Steelers (playing with an injury to Big Ben) and The Broncos (who just Tebowed all over everyone in the 4th quarter and probably shouldn't be a playoff team). But not one of those teams have a passing game even remotely comparable to The Packers. With 19 points allowed, this offense should win every time.
Fact 2: This Defense is designed to be opportunistic, and this is the first time this season it didn't pay off.
I don't need to remind you that the Packers lead the NFL in interceptions. Part of jumping the ball is getting in front of a receiver or forcing a guy into throwing into double or triple coverage. When you play that way, there has to be a guy who gets open. You just hope your pass rush can cause enough havoc to get a QB to make bad decisions. This week it didn't work. Last week, it worked in spades.
Additionally, this kind of defense really works best when another team is playing from behind and they're forced to throw the ball quite a bit to try to even up the score (or when they're playing against a pass-first team). If you can take your time and run the ball a lot, it severely limits your interception opportunities.
Fact 3: The defense is not the big investment on this team.
Of the top 15 highest paid players on the team, only 4 of them are defensive (Woodson, Collins, Hawk and Bishop), and two of them missed this week's game (Collins and Bishop). On top of that, none of them are 'pass rushing specialists' like CM3. If you spend money on defense, you should expect a great defense. If you spend money on offense, you should expect a great offense. This week, dollar for dollar, the D did far more than pull it's weight compared to how the offense mailed it in.
Also, last year's draft didn't feature a defensive player being signed until the 4th round with House. Not that I have a problem with that, as a defensive player at another point in the draft might have been a reach and you always go BPA, but I wanted to make the observation that as far as new blood goes, the offense got much more of a shot in the arm than the D did (especially with resignings for the offense and big free agent departures for the defense).
Fact 4: Time of Possession is an offensive statistic as much as it is a defensive statistic.
You can say that the defense failed in allowing long sustained drives by the Chiefs, and you'd be completely correct in saying that. You can also say the offense failed to create sustained drives to eat up the clock, and you'd also be correct. I don't think this is an argument that really holds much water either way you look at it.
So I guess when I've really thought about it: The only really fair criticism of the defense is the failure to really create an effective pass rush. Saying they allowed too many points, that we're a defense first team or that the ToP battle was lost by the defense isn't a fair criticism.
Seriously though, we need to prioritize a pass rusher in the draft. I agree with everyone who is complaining about that, it's just not the only (or biggest) thing that went wrong today.
Really, I have to tip my cap to the Chiefs. Instead of doing what every other NFL team has done to try to win (winning in a shoot-out by outscoring the Packers) they played to their own strengths of running the ball first, which opened up some pass opportunties later because they could really sell the play-action, and keeping our offense off the field. That combined with the awesome crowd noise of Arrowhead Stadium limiting Rodgers ability to communicate changes at the line (at least, that's what I'm trying to convince myself kept the offense on different pages today) was a winning strategy.
Hopefully this week serves as a bit of a wake up for the Offense, they get back on the same page, get healthy, and along with the comforts of home the rest of the way out (1 win/SF loss pending), they'll get on a roll that can't be stopped.
Go Pack Go!