First Down Improvement A Must … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

First down – the play that starts every possession in football.

At the midway point of the 2011 NFL season, the Chiefs offense isn’t so good on first down, and that’s playing a large part in why the team is struggling to score points and gain yards. After eight games, the Chiefs rank No. 24 in overall offensive yards. That’s 10th in the running game and 27th in passing yardage. They are No. 26 in points scored and 27th in first downs gained.

With all those numbers it should not come as a surprise to learn the Chiefs are not doing very well on first down. Through eight games, they have had 218 first down plays. Throwing out three QB kneel down plays at the end of the game, that’s 215 with 120 running plays and 95 passing plays.

On average, the Chiefs average 5.01 yards on first down. That’s ranked No. 27 in the league, or among the bottom 25 percent of offenses this season in the NFL.

In comparison, the top NFL offense on first down is Green Bay, as the Packers average 7.08 yards on 231 first down plays. Buffalo is second at 6.88 yards on 224 plays. The worst NFL offense on first down is Jacksonville, as the Jaguars averaged so far 4.25 yards on 202 first down plays.

The first step to offensive success is first down, and the Chiefs have been stumbling coming out of the blocks.

“What we’ve got to be better on is first down,” said head coach Todd Haley. “When we aren’t efficient on first down, it puts us in a hole on second and third down. We just can’t afford that.

“So we are putting an emphasis on being better on first down whether we are throwing it or running it.”

Haley and offensive coordinator Bill Muir have leaned towards the ground game on first down – they have run on 123 of those 218 first down plays, or 56.4 percent. The average gain on those running plays was 3.77 yards.

On 95 passing plays, or the other 43.6 percent of the first downs, they averaged 6.62 yards per play.

All the numbers can be thrown together, added and subtracted in many different ways. It all leads to the same conclusion – whether they run the ball or throw the ball, the Chiefs are not getting enough on first down. On average, they face 2nd down-and-8.28 yards to go for a first down. That ranks No. 25 in the league.

Improving their production on there is the fastest way for them to produce more yardage and more points.

“Whether it’s the start of a series or after we’ve converted (a third-down), we have to be fundamentally sound and do a good job, whether we are running or passing,” said Haley. “As a staff once we decide which direction we are going, we have to make sure we are doing things that are good, efficient pass plays or running it. It’s more about getting everybody doing their job to create some movement up front.”

Last Sunday against Miami, the Chiefs had 30 first-down plays; the offense had 78 plays total. They were balanced with 16 passes thrown against 14 running plays. In all, they gained 175 yards on those plays. QB Matt Cassel was seven of 16 passing on first down plays for 122 yards. Only four of those 30 plays went for 10 yards or more.

Here’s how the league offenses rank on first-down production:

 

Rnk

 

Team

1st Down

Plays

 

Yards

 

Avg

Off.

Rank*

1.

Green Bay

231

1,635

7.08

4

2.

Buffalo

224

1,540

6.88

12

3.

New England

259

1,777

6.86

2

4.

Philadelphia

258

1,687

6.54

3

5.

Houston

267

1,701

6.37

8

6.

Oakland

233

1,452

6.23

10

7.

Carolina

242

1,506

6.22

5

8.

Detroit

224

1,380

6.16

13

9.

Washington

228

1,381

6.06

21

10.

San Diego

259

1,567

6.05

6

11.

N.Y. Giants

235

1,407

5.99

11

12.

Denver

230

1,450

5.87

20

13.

Miami

222

1,302

5.86

19

14.

San Francisco

212

1,226

5.78

26

15.

Dallas

231

1,333

5.77

7

16.

New Orleans

291

1,659

5.70

1

17.

Chicago

219

1,243

5.68

17

18.

Tampa Bay

225

1,238

5.50

15

19.

Indianapolis

227

1,245

5.48

31

20.

Minnesota

215

1,173

5.46

18

21.

Pittsburgh

263

1,425

5.42

9

22.

Atlanta

237

1,278

5.39

14

23.

Arizona

215

1,141

5.31

25

24.

Tennessee

201

1,041

5.18

27

25.

Cincinnati

218

1,115

5.11

22

26.

Seattle

213

1,071

5.03

29

27.

CHIEFS

218

1,093

5.01

24

28.

Baltimore

235

1,164

4.95

16

29.

Cleveland

220

1,073

4.88

30

30.

N.Y. Jets

218

998

4.58

28

31.

St. Louis

226

983

4.35

23

32.

Jacksonville

202

858

4.25

32

  NFL AVERAGE

231

1,314

5.68

 

*-offensive ranking based on yards gained.


12 Responses to “First Down Improvement A Must … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 11, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I think a lot of it comes down to the lack of JC #25. Last year he seemed to find a lot of holes and when there weren’t any he’d squeeze through for 5+yards somehow. We really are missing that ability, but Muir/Haley/Zorn need to come up with something better. Like make better use of McClains ability to catch and hit McCluster on a crossing pattern so he’s already moving and upfield when the ball is thrown.

    Essentially… pass more. We seem to be good at it this year.


  • November 11, 2011  - ED J says:

    Agreed bhive01 we don’t have that explosive homerun running back now so passing on 1st down just makes sense, but we’re going have to do better job blocking upfront. We can’t allow the kind of pressure we did last Sunday. It ruined what could’ve been an explosive day by our offense. You can start to see Cassel become the guy he was in New England but the protection didn’t hold up and like any QB Cassel started to panic a little bit on some of his throws. We have to improve the o-line this offseason. WE must either pay big money to bring in right tackle or draft one in the 1st round. Richardson gets too many penalties and I know is among one of the worst right tackles in football. We keep waiting on him to develop and he’s develop into career backup.


  • November 11, 2011  - Josh says:

    We brought in an actual fullback this year. Why no screens? Everyone is jamming us in the middle, and with DMC’s theoretical open-field speed (it hasn’t been seen for a while) we ought to be able to take advantage of putting an FB, WR, and TE in space and let them block until he gets his motor running…


  • November 11, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Chiefs have to master the screen pass. Matt Cassel doesn’t set it up well and he doesn’t “sell it.” He should demand the offense practice that play until he’s as good as anyone. It would help the team and save him from blitzes. He has a good QB coach. There’s no excuse. Thomas Jones, McCluster and McClain can do this.

    And then maybe we’ll see multiple slant passes every game? It’s an easy, high percentage pass for Cassel– quick and we have the receivers for yards after catch.


  • November 11, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I agree. We are a terrible screen team. Perhaps it is partially because Charles is not here, but it also could be be for the reasons Tenand6 said. I also agree we need to run more quick slants. Breaston is great on the quick slants and Cassell can throw quicker. Richardson has regressed this year from an average RT to a sub-par tackle. We need to upgrade that position.


  • November 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    We pass because we cannot run block with regularity. To run screens, you cannot open your QB to being crushed by a 350+er running at 75 Mph un-checked. No amount of coaching, substandard or visionary QB play, slants badly executed, screens with the QB on the ground or whatever can fix the OL this year. We are stuck with what is there. For the 4 wins Crennel was able to “hide” the injuried players on defense, the offense seems intent on “here we are and this is all we can do” approach.

    Anyone see raider/SD game? Looks like we have the third best QB in the AFC West, after sunday, I fear we may have the fourth. We need this win badly.


  • November 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    Sorry forgot to mention, Baldwin may be the difference maker. The 3 Bs at receiver have enough to carry the load at least to make the team look respectable for the rest of the year.


  • November 11, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Godd points elcid. There are acouple of changes we might consider. Move Gaither into right tackle and perhaps let Hudson replace Weigman at center. I’m not sure he’s ready but Weigman is just too small and is geting old. Lilja is not playing as well as he has in the past, but we have no one to replace him. That’s all we can do short range. A great running back can make a bad offensive line look good. We miss Charles.


  • November 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    Something is wrong with Gaither. Do not know what heis notright or he would be the OL already? I heard Hudson may project to be a G not a center, Chiefs are not talking.

    I suggest we get rid of some of the drift wood. Urban and the guy who was a coach, now WR. Also we do not use the TE anyway, cut one. Then we look are the entire NFLs practice squads for OL with potential to help next year. We are sort of stuck with what we have, so lets plan for next year.

    Charles is missed by the fans and maybe players but the coaches do not seem in love with his durability. I figure a RB in 2nd round or FA, maybe?


  • November 11, 2011  - Flyboy26 says:

    Most of you made some pretty valid points, however, I still say that Cassel’s protection was no worse than most of the QBs I watched this and past weekends. As has been said many times, the play calling needs to help Cassel thru his weaknesses. He still too often, stares down his receiver, and looks for a place to fall or a hole to run thru rather than looking thru his progressions and keeping his eyes downfield as long as possible. This is what good QBs do. He doesn’t seem to be able to read the defense and act accordingly. Whether that’s the fault the coaches or not, nobody knows.


  • November 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    Could be correct but right now I would say Cassel is no better than the 3rd best QB in the AFC West. His ratings are pretty poor. The OL gets some credit for this. They are light, as in weight and maybe ability. I have noticed he seem to be out of tune with the coaching staff. He seems to be expected to complete plays, he does not seem to understand or have faith in.

    But what do we do? Palko is no answer to anything. Stanzi had done nothing since training camp. Just forfeit the rest of the season?

    Guess I am on your side but it is not a side I want to be on.


  • November 12, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Both our tackles were whipped on almost every down by the Dolphins. It was as clear as the fact that we wear red jerseys at home.
    Anyone who can’t see the weakness of our O-line must not be watching the games or not understand what they think they think they see. I guess if a person can only focus on the ball they may miss a lot.




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