Andy Reid: Nick Bolton Is Having an ‘All-Pro’ Type Season

Kansas City’s head coach spoke highly of his top linebacker following Sunday’s win.

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Rams by their third-widest margin of the 2022 campaign, and their defense played a massive role in that dominant victory. Steve Spagnuolo’s unit surrendered just 10 points to Sean McVay’s struggling offense, with multiple players’ performances contributing to the win.

In addition to cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and defensive end Frank Clark having quality afternoons, it was linebacker Nick Bolton who set the tone for the Chiefs on the less glorious side of the ball. The second-year man amassed 11 tackles against Los Angeles, with one of those being for a loss. Additionally, he had a pass broken up and an interception to boot. After the game, head coach Andy Reid praised Bolton’s outing and used a very important designation in the process: All-Pro.

“His instincts,” Reid said when asked what helped Bolton to such a big game. “Spags (Spagnuolo) has mentioned that, too. His instincts, his ability to tackle in tight areas and then also in the field, I think, is big. He’ll tell you that it helps to have a good defensive line, too, but he’s definitely having an All-Pro-type season. He’s a heck of a football player.”

Sunday’s game against the Rams marked the fourth time in six games that Bolton had at least 10 tackles, and he’s recorded an interception in back-to-back weeks. The 2021 second-round pick is dangerously close to surpassing his tackle and tackle-for-loss totals from his rookie season, and he’s already improved in sacks and quarterback hits. The Rams game was yet another example of him showing off his ability to make plays in the middle of Spagnuolo’s defense.

Entering Week 12, Bolton ranks favorably compared to his peers. Among all 85 linebackers with at least 20% of available run defense snaps this year, he ranks 14th with a 76.9 Pro Football Focus’ run defense grade and is 12th in stop percentage. That isn’t all, though. While Bolton’s tape still doesn’t show a player who thrives in coverage, his PFF data shows otherwise. Using that same 20% threshold for linebackers, the former University of Missouri standout’s 79.0 PFF coverage grade through 10 games is the sixth-best. His 78.6 defense grade? Tied for ninth. It remains to be seen how much those numbers will change but given how good Bolton was against the Rams, the answer may not be much.

Moving forward, Kansas City has a Week 13 outing against the Cincinnati Bengals on the docket. This AFC Championship Game rematch presents an opportunity for the Chiefs to avenge their loss at least a bit, and Bolton said that the January game stung as he went into the offseason. With his eyes now set on next week, Bolton admitted after one of his best games of 2022 that he’s playing so well right now partially because that crushing loss fueled him to do so. 

“I don’t think I played very good, personally,” Bolton said. “I felt like this year, I had to come in and be better for our defense to be where it needs to be. I spent a lot of time on that in the offseason.” 

Read More: Four Takeaways From the Chiefs’ 26-10 Win Over the Rams