Numbers: Monday Night vs. Chargers

On the surface, the Chiefs rush defense looks as if it put up some significant numbers against the Chargers. In four quarters, plus overtime, they allowed just 102 yards rushing. They held the Chargers to 3 yards or fewer on 15 of the carries.

But the importance of run defense is not in the sheer numbers. It is being able to get off the field late in the game to get the ball for your offense to attempt a game-winning drive or run off the clock.

In that regard, the defense failed abysmally. With the score tied 20-20, the Chargers got the ball at the Chiefs 48 with nearly 5 minutes remaining. With first down at the Chiefs 27 and just 3:27 remaining, the Chargers pounded out consecutive runs of 6, 6, 4 and 5 yards to put them in third-and-1 at the 16. Another successful run gained a first down and the Chargers were just a secure quarterback exchange from kicking the winning field goal.

As we know, Philip Rivers mishandled the snap, the Chiefs recovered, and overtime came. But the inability to stop the run in that situation might have cost the Chiefs dearly.

CHIEFS DEFENSE

Opp. Rushing

Runs/Yds*

3-less 

4-plus 

Big play

Def. Succ.*

Avg.

Chargers

27-102

15

12

2

12

3.77

Season 

176-727

99 

77 

18 

96 

4.13 

* Runs don’t count kneel downs or scrambles. Defensive success does not include short runs for a first down or kneel-downs at the end of a half or game.

Chiefs pass defense

Interceptions were the key to the Chiefs pass defense and with a little better help from the Chiefs offense could have set a completely different tone in the game. The Chiefs intercepted Rivers twice in his first eight pass attempts.

Total points off the two interceptions: none off the first when the Chiefs took the ball at the Chargers 25; and 7 points off the second when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel hit Jonathan Baldwin on his 39-yard touchdown toss.

At that point, in the first quarter, the Chiefs led 10-0 when they could have led 13-0 or 17-0 with more efficiency from the offense.

The Chiefs continue to have issues when they play against a top-tier tight end. Antonio Gates scorched them on four catches for an average of 18 yards per catch. But for the day, against a quarterback who throws deep and makes mistakes, the Chiefs acquitted themselves well with the two picks and no touchdown passes allowed.

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att*

Chargers

26-41-369-0T-2I

5

5

16

8.39

* Including 3 sacks as called passing plays.

Sacks by down

Game

First

Second

Third

Total

Passing situation*

Chargers

0

3

0 

0 

1

Season 

1

6

2 

9

6

*Passing situation defined as second- or third-and-long (more than 6), two-minute drill or second half when down by more than two scores.

Turnovers

The key turnover of the game came with just 48 seconds remaining in regulation when Rivers fumbled at the Chiefs 15 with the Chargers positioned for what would have been the winning field goal.

Rivers had driven the bus into position and had only to park it when he didn’t execute the most basic of skills a quarterback must have to play the game.

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had two interceptions again, but like against the Raiders, one came in a Hail-Mary play with 12 seconds remaining in the game. Dexter McCluster squandered a huge opportunity on his first carry of the game when he fumbled at the Chargers’ 21 in the first quarter.

Turnover ratio by game

Game

Chiefs

Opponents

 
 

Interception

Fumble 

Interception 

Fumble 

Ratio 

Buffalo (L) 

1

2 

1 

0 

-2 

Detroit (L) 

3

3 

1 

0 

-5 

San Diego (L) 

1

0 

2 

0 

+1 

Minnesota (W) 

0

0 

1 

0 

+1 

Indianapolis (W) 

0

0 

0 

0 

0 

Oakland (W) 

2

0 

6 

0 

+4 

San Diego (W) 

2

2 

2 

2 

0 

CHIEFS OFFENSE

Jonathan Baldwin, for the first time, really showed what he can add to the Chiefs offense in giving it a third threat. Quarterback Matt Cassel wasted little time, targeting him eight times in the game. The five catches for 82 yards included his first NFL touchdown grab, a really nice catch late in the first quarter. If Baldwin continues to be a good option in the slot, it gives Cassel three reliable targets who can take the ball deep at any time: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Baldwin.

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

Chargers

19-32-261-1T-2I

5

4*

12

7.25

* Includes sacks and scrambles

vs. Chargers

Target

Catches

Yards

Big plays

Bowe 

11

4

62

3

Breaston 

4

3

42

2

Baldwin 

8

5

82

4

McCLain 

2

2

17

1

McCluster 

3

3

28

2

Pope 

1

1 

11 

1 

Colbert

1

1

19

1

Totals 

30

19

261

14

Rushing attack

The best thing the running attack did against the Chargers was set up play-action passes. The threat of the Chiefs run, particularly in the first quarter, helped the offensive line put a cocoon around Cassel on the opening drive, and the Chiefs QB completed five passes of 10 or more yards, including the 39-yard TD to Jonathan Baldwin.

Otherwise . . . anemic. On 19 carries, Jackie Battle gained 4 or more yards just seven times. He was held to 3 or fewer yards 63 percent of his carries. Six times he was held for zero or minus yardage. Thomas Jones did little better ‚Äď though he went unused in the first, third and fourth quarter. The confidence the coaches have in his ability to hold onto the football is illustrated by his run on the final play before Ryan Succup’s game-winning field goal. Dexter McCluster remains a non-factor. He fumbled his first carry after a 4-yard gain. He had positive yardage on just one other carry in the game.

vs. Chargers

4 or more

3 or less 

Big runs 

Winning plays 

Battle (19-70) 

7

12 

2 

8 

Jones (5-10) 

1

4 

0 

1 

McCluster (6-0) 

1

5 

0 

0* 

Cassel (2-14) 

2

0 

0 

2 

Total (32-94) 

11

21 

2 

11 

* McCluster fumbled on his 4-yard run, thus a no-win play.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

The first-place tie in the AFC West allows us to make a small comparison at this point in the season. The Raiders, of the three teams tied for the lead, have played the most difficult schedule. The Raiders’ opponents have a combined record of 28-22. The Raiders losses have come against teams that are 14-7 overall. The wins have come against teams with a 14-15 record.

The Chiefs opponents are 25-26 overall, with losses coming against teams that are 15-7, the wins coming against teams that are 10-19.

The Chargers have had the easiest schedule so far, playing teams that are 21-29 overall. The Chargers losses have come against teams that are a combined 13-8 and the wins coming against teams that are 8-21.

Broncos opponents are 30-20 overall, the most difficult record of any team in the AFC West so far. The Broncos losses have come against teams that are 25-11 overall. The two wins came against teams with a 5-9 record. But the Broncos also have the best win of the AFC West, beating the 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals.

Collectively, AFC West teams are 3-5 against opponents in the AFC East and are 2-3 against teams in the NFC North.

The Chiefs’ so-called tougher schedule hasn’t materialized as many expected it to. In remaining games, the Chiefs opponents are 34-30. The Chargers, on paper, have the most difficult task facing teams that are collectively 39-26. The Raiders opponents over the final nine games of the season are 33-32.

AFC WEST 

Vs. AFC East

Vs. NFC No. 

Other 

Vs. AFC West 

Chiefs 4-3 

L/Bills (H)

L/Lions (R) W/Vikings (H) 

Steelers  W/Colts (R) 

L/Chargers (R) W/Raiders (R) W/Chargers (H) 

Chargers 4-3 

L/Patriots (R) W/Miami (H) L/Jets (R) 

W/Vikings (H)

Jaguars    Ravens 

W/Chiefs (H) W/Broncos (R) L/Chiefs (R) 

Raiders 4-3 

L/Bills (R) W/Jets (H) L/Patriots (H) 

0-0 

W/Texans (R) W/Browns (H) 

W/Broncos (R)  L/Chiefs (H) 

Broncos 2-5 

W/Dolphins (R)

L/Packers (R) L/Lions (H) 

W/Bengals (H) L/Titans (R) 

L/Raiders (H) L/Chargers (H) 


5 Responses to “Numbers: Monday Night vs. Chargers”

  • November 3, 2011  - Blake says:

    Bob you say the Chiefs run defense failed when they were needed the most, well I put that more on the offense than the defense. The defense was on the field WAY to long. The offense couldn’t get a first down in the second or third quarter. I think overall the Chiefs defense did a good job.


  • November 3, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I’ne been telling everyone that would listen, and several others, that the only thing wrong with the defense is the offense. You can’t leave the defence on the field all the time and expect them to play well. They need to stop pretending that Dexter is an NFL running back. He needs space: put back into the passing game. Now Castle has four, not only good targets, but four playmakers. Without a tight-end. Running game is now secondary. How much better would the defence be with Berry. I still hurt.


  • November 3, 2011  - Blake says:

    I kinda of agree with John, I want to see KC try and throw the ball more. I think the passing game has been there the last two games, they just don’t or aren’t throwing it enough. With Charles out, this offense is completely different. KC has been able to move the ball through the air, but they just don’t do it enough. How many times have we seen the Chiefs run, run, and not got anything, then pass and pick up a first down. Pass the ball until the defense shows they can stop it. I just want to see a little more balance out of the offense. Battle does not scare defenses, I think Bowe, Baldwin, and Breaston do scare defenses. I know the oline is set up more for the run, but I think passing the ball gives us our best chance. When KC goes up against a team that has a dominate run defense, we are going to be in trouble. We wont know how to drop back and pass the ball on every down, I want to see them at least attempt to pass the ball more.


  • November 4, 2011  - Kent Pulliam says:

    Don’t react to Bob for the conclusions, they are mine.

    Blake: You’re correct with first assumption. Defense was on the field too long, about 35:15 in regulation. Offense is part of that problem. The other side of that, if the defense makes plays, they can get themselves off the field. But clearly you are right that offense failed in second and third quarter.

    Johnfromwichita: First quarter, the Chiefs called 9 pass plays, four runs. Second quarter 7 passes, 8 runs. Third quarter 8 passes, 3 runs. Fourth quarter 8 passes 7 runs. So counting sacks, scrambles and penalties, the ratio was 32 passes and 22 runs in regulation. My conclusion from that is if they pass efficiently you are right, complete passes keep the clock running. In the second quarter four of the five throws were incomplete, other two pass plays called were called back for penalties.

    Thanks for reading and giving me feedback and other things to consider in my analysis of the numbers.

    Kent


  • November 4, 2011  - TDKC says:

    Blake your right. Why not try more four receiver sets with Breaston, Bowe, Baldwin and DMC. Put three of them on the same side and let them take half the defense with them down the field. The RB would be open all the time. They could kill opponents with those little dump off passes that always haunt our defense.

    Try more roll outs and bootlegs too.




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