The Kansas City Chiefs fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on Tuesday, two days after the Chiefs failed to stop Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on what turned out to be the only possession of overtime in a crushing 37-31 defeat for a berth in the Super Bowl.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid announced the firing in a brief statement. It came one day after he said he would evaluate all aspects of the team but declined to address Sutton's future specifically.
“Bob is a good football coach and a great person. He played an integral role in the success of our team over the last six seasons,” Reid said. “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.”
The 67-year-old Sutton had been defensive coordinator since 2013, when he joined Reid's initial staff in Kansas City. The longtime college and NFL assistant had previously spent more than a decade with the New York Jets, including a stint as defensive coordinator.
His defenses performed reasonably well the first few seasons in Kansas City, but the bend-but-don't-break approach began to grow stale. The Chiefs struggled to stop anybody last season, and many fans called for Sutton to be replaced then, only for Reid to give him another chance.
Despite investing heavily in the defense, both through free agency and the draft, the unit fared even worse this season. Kansas City allowed 405.5 yards per game, better only than Cincinnati, and was the ninth-worst scoring defense in the league. The Chiefs were especially poor against the run, and it showed in Sony Michel's success for the Pats in the AFC championship game.
Michel ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while Brady threw for 348 yards and another score, as the Patriots dominated time of possession and piled up 524 yards.
“We wanted to do better there,” Reid said during his end-of-season news conference Monday. “When it comes down to the last drive, you magnify where it is, but this was the championship game. It was in overtime. When you really cut to the chase of it here, the few games we lost, we lost by minimal points, so we were obviously doing something right.”