Kansas City, Mo. With the Chiefs getting a big chunk of their scoring from defense and special teams, Andy Reid prefers to think of it as a tribute to those units, not a knock against his offense.
In fact, nearly a quarter of their points during a blistering 6-0 start have come from touchdowns and safeties produced by their defense and special teams. The percentage of scoring rises to 46.1 when Ryan Succop’s 11 field goals are factored into Kansas City’s point total.
“Listen, do you want to score more on offense? Yeah, you want to score every time you touch the football,” Reid said Monday. “That’s the mentality we have on that side, but I’d also tell you that the mentality on the defensive and special teams side is we want X number of touchdowns from that crew.”
They’ve certainly accomplished that this season.
The Chiefs have scored a defensive or special teams touchdown in five straight games, including a 44-yard interception return by Husain Abdullah to cap their 24-7 win over the Raiders on Sunday.
His touchdown followed Marcus Cooper’s fumble recovery of a muffed punt the previous week against Tennessee, Dexter McCluster’s zigzagging 89-yard punt return for a score against the Giants, and Eric Berry’s 33-yard interception return for a touchdown against Philadelphia.
Tamba Hali had a 10-yard interception return for a TD in a season-opening win over Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have managed only 12 touchdowns from their scuffling offense, and several of those drives covered short distances because of their defense and special teams.
“It’s something we talked about from Day 1, the scoring. There’s equal opportunity in all three phases,” Reid said. “We wanted everybody to have their chance to score a touchdown. Those are things we have definitely talked about.”
The five defensive and special teams touchdowns that the Chiefs have scored are tied for second most in the NFL since 2000 through six games, according to STATS. The only team to produce more was the 2003 version of the Chiefs, which had seven of them after six games.
Incidentally, that team led by special teamer extraordinaire Dante Hall, started 9-0 — the only one in franchise history to get off to a better start than this year’s Chiefs.
“We just try to go out there and play hard for each other,” Berry explained. “We try to play as a unit. We just fight to the end of the game, no matter what the score is.”
The success of the Chiefs’ defense, which leads the league in scoring, and special teams, which have given them the league’s best starting field position, helps to mask all the troubles of the offense, which managed just 216 yards against the Raiders.
Running back Jamaal Charles had 128 of those yards. And to underscore his importance to the Chiefs, he also had both of their offensive touchdowns, and has seven of the team’s 12 offensive scores this season — five on the ground and two through the air.
“As an offense, we have to start faster,” wide receiver McCluster said. “It’s going to be important to get it going quicker and then maintain that throughout the game.”
If we can get our offense to play as well as our defense is playing right now, it’s going to be great.”
So far, that bar has been set pretty high. And if it never does happen, well, the Chiefs seem to be confident that their defense and special teams can continue to produce.
“The coaches believe in us,” Hali said. “We remind ourselves we’re out there to get our job done and we’re getting our job done. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Wow, we scored again.’ That’s huge. It’s the coaches. I promise. It’s the same team we had last year, minus a couple of guys. We’re having this much success, so it’s a credit to the coaches.”
Notes: LT Branden Albert sprained his left knee and strained his left elbow against the Raiders, and DT Dontari Poe tweaked a sprained ankle. Both should be OK for Sunday’s game against the Texans, Reid said. ... Reid also praised the defense for its 10 sacks against Oakland. It’s the most sacks KC has had since 10 against Oakland on Sept. 6, 1998.