Despite being one of the NFL’s most prolific pass-rushers of the past decade, edge-rusher Tamba Hali saw a significant drop in time on the field last season, and he’s still not happy about it.
A string of tweets over the weekend reflect the 12-year veteran’s frustration with his diminishing role on a defense that finished seventh-best in points allowed per game (19.4) but ranked 28th in sacks.
The defensive front often struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks and led to the linebacker corps being less effective.
Fans should know this. only played 7 snaps last year 2017 playoff game against the Steelers.— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
I was told the reason I wasn't playing was they wanted me fresh for the playoff.— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
Can someone explain to me how I played 58 snaps in the first game when we made the greatest comeback in Chiefs history?— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
TAMBA HALI IS TWEETING HIS THOUGHTS.— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
Although Hali’s durability has historically never been an issue (he has missed just two games in his 11 seasons), but the decline in performance and the emergence of 2014 first-round draft pick Dee Ford has led to the imposing rusher being relegated to a rotation role, in which he started only two games.
However, Hali believes he can still play at a high level given the opportunity. Despite limited time on the field, Hali received an 81.4 player grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him 21st among edge rushers. His grade actually tops Ford’s mark of 70.9.
While Justin Houston is an elite talent when healthy, Hali may have a chance to redeem himself if the injury bug strikes again. But for the time being, the Chiefs appear to want to give Ford the primary opportunity after he showed flashes of upside in his third-year campaign.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old ranks 44th on the all-time sack list, recording 89.5 in 172 career games. He has been a model of consistency and an ambassador for a Kansas City squad that has seen its highs and lows, but Hali has made it clear that his passion for the game is as strong as ever.
His remarks do carry significant weight however, as his displeasure with his current situation offers nothing but negativity for a team trying to reach the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1993.
I'm a team player first. Anything for the team. Yet I'm not done knocking QB heads off but 7 plays won't cut it.— Tamba Hali (@TambaHali91) July 22, 2017
His Twitter rant established that while he is all for contributing for the good of the team, his individual role must increase. An uptick in usage could spark confidence and develop a rhythm for the five-time Pro-Bowl selection, but a continued decrease in snaps could make the situation very ugly.
Hali is signed through 2018, but with an unsettling chemistry with the team due to his revised role, adding fuel to the fire could be much cause for off-the-field concern moving forward.
As training camp draws nearer and Hali continues to stew, it will be one of the most important training camp storylines to follow that doesn’t involve rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.