On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs secured their first victory of the season: a 17-9 road win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Chiefs’ offense still appears to be finding its rhythm, it did enough to secure the win. However, it was the defense that truly shined — especially with the return of All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones.
In every game, regardless of the outcome, there are unsung heroes who quietly excel, making crucial contributions that often escape the limelight. These players operate under the radar. One such player who deserves recognition for their outstanding Week 2 performance is linebacker Drue Tranquill, who joined Kansas City during the offseason.
An under-the-radar performance
Tranquill spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers — and joined the Chiefs without any guarantees about his role in Kansas City. The Chiefs already boasted a formidable trio of linebackers: the rising star Nick Bolton, the athletically gifted Willie Gay Jr. and the physically imposing Leo Chenal. So the question was how defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would integrate Tranquill into the lineup.
That question loomed larger after Tranquill was given just 12 snaps in Week 1’s 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions, in which he managed only two tackles. But in Week 2, he was on the field for 27 defensive snaps — 42% of the total — which coincided with a surge in his on-field impact.
With the Chargers, Tranquill had renowned for his coverage skills — something Kansas City’s linebackers were lacking. On Sunday, he demonstrated his prowess against the run as well. On nine running plays and 18 passing reps, he notched four tackles and conceded only 16 yards in coverage. Pro Football Focus now rates him as the Chiefs’ top run defender, with an impressive grade of 88.1.
The bottom line
Kansas City now boasts a formidable linebacker corps — and Tranquill’s versatility adds a new dimension to the group. While it will be challenging to keep him off the field, Spagnuolo will continue to find ways to incorporate Tranquill into his base, nickel and dime packages.
For a contending team, quality depth at any position is a valuable asset — and at linebacker, Kansas City has plenty of it. Don’t be surprised when Tranquill’s name is mentioned more and more often. He’s poised to make impactful plays that won’t go unnoticed.