Tamba Hali Is Bringing the Pass Rush Back to the Kansas City Chiefs Defense

Max GoodwinContributor IIISeptember 29, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs won 31-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It's rare that Tamba Hali says anything in the media. You can call the notion played out, but he is the type of player who lets his game do the talking. He is not interested in making the headlines or being entertainment in the press. But, on the field, Tamba and his Kansas City Chiefs are making a lot of noise in the NFL.

With Tamba Hali, there is never any insinuation that he is alone in his success or that he carries the team defensively. Even though from the stand point of statistics it looks like he clearly does just that. Last season he had 8.5 sacks, the team had just 22 total. This season he has 3.5 of the team's seven sacks.

"Credit those guys for allowing me to rush this week," said Hali, appreciative of his teammates after Sunday's game against San Francisco.

The Chiefs defense looked like they were a whole new unit. They stopped one of the best running backs in the NFC, and probably the NFL, in impressive fashion. This is what forced the 49ers to pass and part of what Hali was referring to.

The biggest addition to the Chiefs defense this season did not even take the field Sunday. Romeo Crennel is the new defensive coordinator and he has the Chiefs playing inspired and tough football. "You know," said Tamba Hali, "Romeo Crennel has come in here and really changed our identity."

Hali made even more noise today by winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Still, there is much left to prove. He is still relatively unknown among the large market NFL audience. But, if there is any connection between success and media attention, there is no doubt his name will be known soon.

It will be the same then as it is now though. Tamba Hali will give credit to his team and to his coach, He just has a naturally unselfish way of going about his business.

Despite the modesty, he is more important to the Chiefs than any number of stats can convey. He puts pressure on the quarterback just by getting into the backfield, which he has done often. He stops the run game and forces fumbles. The amount of times he puts the quarterback on the ground is just a small part of his job, but it is the most noticeable.

This was a major point of emphasis in Chiefs coach Todd Haley's post-game talk. He was happy with the sacks but it was more than just that. It was every time the defense pressured the quarterback. They rushed Alex Smith out of the pocket and forced him to make throws he normally would not have.

This has resulted in success in the secondary as well. Brandon Flowers has looked as good as any corner in the NFL in the first three games of the season. He has two interceptions and has brought one back for a touchdown. He made an incredible effort to catch the interception against San Francisco. He batted the ball up in the air on a deflected pass and, as he landed on his back on the ground, had the awareness to catch the ball.

There is no question that Tamba's teammates have benefited from his play. He is the unspoken leader not just of the linebackers or the defense, but the whole team.

The switch he made from defensive end to outside linebacker two years ago has been successful so far. Now he has emerged as the answer to the very important question of the Chiefs pass rush, the one that has been asked since Jared Allen left.

Two years ago the Chiefs sacked the quarterback only 10 times throughout the entire 16-game season. Sunday, against the 49ers they sacked Alex Smith four times in the second half alone. Sacks may not be the biggest thing for Todd Haley, but Kansas City has a history of feared pass rushers and Tamba Hali is bringing back the familiar sight to this new look Chiefs defense.