On the shoulders of Patrick Mahomes, Head Coach Andy Reid has created one of the best offenses in recent memory, and it deservedly garners a lot of attention, but Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders aren't sleeping on the Kansas City Chiefs defense.
With an MVP under center and a handful of Pro Bowlers at skill positions, the media tends to highlight the Chiefs' dynamic playmakers on offense, overlooking the talent General Manager Brett Veach has pieced together on defense.
Last year, the Chiefs traded for and locked up 27-year-old pass-rusher Frank Clark with a five-year contract. In July of this year, they signed fellow pass rusher Chris Jones to a four-year deal. Together, Clark and Jones have totaled 23.5 sacks in the last season-and-a-half together, and they'll be eager to add to that total against the Raiders on Sunday.
"Yeah they have a great front," Carr told reporters Wednesday. "[Frank] Clark, [Chris] Jones, they get after it. Linebackers run and hit."
Against such an effective front, Carr knows he's going to need to get the ball out fast, but the Chiefs' secondary is just as talented as their defensive line. Veteran All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu is still in the prime of his career at 28 years of age and is the leader of secondary. Right now, Mathieu and his fellow DBs held New England Patriots signal-callers to a combined 172 passing yards last week, and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson to 97 passing yards the week before that.
"Obviously we know about Tyrann [Mathieu], what kind of player he is, and their secondary," Carr said. "They're great players. They have a great scheme. You can tell they plan on scoring a lot of points with the way they play defense. They go after it and they play hard.
"I mean one of our MVPs of the league, Lamar Jackson, he only had 97 yards, and he's one of the best players in football. No matter what anybody wants to say at that moment, he's one of the best. You look at the other players they've played against, the other teams they've played against, and what they've been able to hold them to. What a challenge that is for us. We better step up to the plate and be ready to play. I know our guys are excited about it and excited for the challenge."
Through four weeks of action, the Chiefs are the third-best team in the league against the pass, allowing 195 yards per game; however, against the run, they're toward the bottom of the league, allowing 161 yards per game. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a well-respected coach in the league and his scheme presents several different looks to disorient offenses. Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is fully prepared to see some of those looks and try to mitigate the pressure Spagnuolo's unit brings.
"Well he presents a lot of different looks for offenses, especially on third downs," Olson said Thursday. "They have a talented group of players as well on that side of the ball. That's a big part of it as well, is good players. Certainly, have all of the respect in the world for Steve and the scheme he brings. But probably more known for his exotic pressures on third downs, it's kind of a hallmark of his defense."
The Raiders face a tough task this week, as they face the reigning Super Bowl champions, and a lot will ride on the Silver and Black's defense to stop their dynamic playmakers on offense, but Derek Carr knows his group has its hands full also.
"This defense, everybody talks about their offense and rightfully so," Carr said, "they're Super Bowl Champs, they have the MVP at quarterback, speed everywhere, great players, [Travis] Kelce, all these guys, running back, O-Line, but their defense can play as well. They're really good."