KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Less than 48 hours after the Chiefs' Super Bowl bid came to an end after yielding 37 points to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, the team announced defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has been relieved of his duties by head coach Andy Reid.
“Bob is a good football coach and a great person,” Reid said in the statement issued by the club Tuesday. “He played an integral role in the success of our team over the last six seasons. I’ve said before that change can be a good thing, for both parties, and I believe that is the case here for the Chiefs and Bob. This was not an easy decision, but one I feel is in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs moving forward.”
The move came swiftly as the Chiefs wrapped up their exit meetings with players and prepared to go their separate ways starting the offseason. But Reid gave few hints such a move was imminent during his season-ending press conference Monday.
“All those things, players, all that stuff, I'll go back here and look at it,” Reid said when asked if he planned a change on the defensive coaching side of the ball. “I look at everything. I'll take a peak at all that.”
Reid also said he didn't think that Sutton lost the confidence of the locker room. “I didn't feel that,” Reid replied.
Sutton, who turns 68 on Jan, 28, spent the past six seasons as defensive coordinator for the Chiefs. His defensive squads ranked among the top-five in the league in points allowed per game during his first three seasons, finishing fifth, second and third.
Despite allowing 19.4 points per game in 2016, seventh-best in the league, cracks began to show in the Kansas City defense. The team ranked 18th-best against the pass and finished No. 26 in rushing yards allowed. In 2017 the Chiefs ranked 15th in scoring defense, but fell to 29th against the pass and finished No. 25 in rushing defense.
The Chiefs began retooling their defense during the 2018 offseason, trading away cornerback Marcus Peters and saying goodbye to other veterans including linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali. The club spent five of its six draft picks on defenses and added free agent linebacker Anthony Hitchens and defensive tackle Xavier Williams while acquiring cornerback Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade with Washington.
But Sutton's defense failed to stop its slide. The defense fell to 24th in scoring while ranking 31st and 27th against the pass and rush respectively. The inability to stop the Patriots on Sunday, with the defense yielding 524 yards, 36 first downs and a 13-of-19 success rate on third downs may have served as the final straw.
Sutton's coaching career stretches back to his start as a graduate assistant for Michigan in 1972. He spent 28 seasons in the college ranks at six different schools, including nine seasons as the head coach at Army. He compiled a 44-55-1 record from 1991-99.
He transitioned to the NFL in 2000 with the New York Jets, spending 13 seasons with the club as linebackers coach, senior defensive assistant, assistant head coach and a three-year stint as defensive coordinator from 2006-08. He came to Kansas City as part of Reid's first staff with the club in 2013.