It took some time for the Chiefs to settle into defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system last year, particularly when it came to stopping the run, but they wound up winning the Super Bowl so the growing pains wound up being worth it.
The Chiefs would like another ring this year and linebacker Anthony Hitchens thinks the defense can pull more weight this time around. Only one starter from last year’s unit has left the team, which is a plus because Hitchens believes “it’s hard to play fast if you don’t know all the details” and the team has now learned the details of what Spagnuolo’s asking them to do.
“Once we get that going with the run game, like definitely not making any predictions or anything like that, we should be a top-5 defense. . . . I just think it’s more of the run defense than the pass defense,” Hitchens said, via the Kansas City Star. “Once we get that settled, complete and make it a defense, we’ll be good for years to come.”
Hitchens’ fellow linebacker Reggie Ragland is the one starter gone from last year. Second-round pick Willie Gay is a potential replacement and Hitchens believes he has “a lot of tools that you need to stop the run,” so the rookie could be in line for early playing time if those tools translate to the professional level.