Could one of the franchise’s best pass rushers return to Kansas City?
In case anyone needed reminding about defense and the impact it continues to have in the NFL despite all the gaudy offensive numbers these days, you may want to take a look at Super Bowl LV if it remains on your DVR.
For the second time in three years, a team showed up on Super Sunday and failed to score a touchdown. In 2018, Sean McVay’s explosive Rams were limited to a field goal by the New England Patriots. And Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were dethroned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9, last month at Raymond James Stadium.
Steve Spagnuolo’s defense was the key to the club’s late-season run in 2019 and in the Super Bowl. That team finished with 45 sacks and 23 takeaways during the regular season. Kansas City forced three more turnovers and added nine QB traps in the three-game postseason run.
In 2020, the Chiefs finished with only 38 sacks in 19 outings, quite the drop-off from the previous year. But there could be a solution to that issue if one of the organization’s most productive defensive players is primed for a reunion.
Chiefs Rumors: Justin Houston coming home would be a perfect full circle
After eight seasons in Kansas City, Justin Houston was released by the franchise. He totaled 78.5 sacks, earned four Pro Bowl invitations and one All-Pro nod within his first five seasons with the club. That included an incredible 22 sacks in 2014. In ’19, he latched on with the Indianapolis Colts as general manager Chris Ballard was quite familiar with his talent. Houston inked a two-year, $24 million deal (via Spotrac). He has started every game the past two years, amazing a combined 19 sacks, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. The grades from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) aren’t off the chart. But he still knows his way to the quarterback when called upon. And now he could hit the open market once again.
Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that Houston excelled in Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 defense in Indianapolis, this after eight years of playing outside linebacker in the 3-4. That’s the kind of adaptability every coach is looking for. And after adding DeForest Buckner last offseason via trade, Houston could make the league’s eighth-ranked defense in the league in 2020 a bit more fearsome.