The Numbers Game: 11/23

The numbers don’t lie.

Well, OK, they sometimes do.

The Chiefs 31-13 win over Arizona defies some of the numbers, and Todd Haley was still concerned about it early in the preparation for his team’s game against Seattle this week.

Run defense continues to be a problem. Arizona’s Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower gashed the Chiefs run defense time after time on Sunday. The saving grace was a big lead early in the game and leaving Arizona to put the game in Derek Anderson’s incapable hands.

“We gave up too many runs over 10 yards,” Haley said after reviewing video of the game. “We’ve got to do a better job there.”

On Sunday, Arizona had exactly the same percentage of successful runs (11 of 20) as the Chiefs (15 of 27). But after the Cardinals trailed 21-6 heading into the fourth quarter, they ran the ball just one more time. As for big plays, the Chiefs have given up nine runs of 10 or more yards in the past two games (just 15 in the first eight games).

On Sunday the issue was a basic one – tackling. The front seven was in position to stop runners for short gains. But both Wells and Hightower broke tackles that carried their runs into the secondary.

When Javier Arenas, Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers are three of the top four tacklers (by coaching statistics), your run defense is not effective.

Defense against the run

Opponent

Runs/Yds

3-less 

4-plus 

Big play

Def. Succ.*

Avg.

Arizona

20-101

9

11

5

9

5.1

Season 

256-1,041

146

110

24

132

4.1

* Defensive success does not include short runs for a first down or kneel-downs at the end of a half or game.

Opponent’s first-down plays

This stat is skewed because the Cardinals trailed 21-6 heading into the fourth quarter and ran only one time the remainder of the game. All eight of the Cardinals first-down plays in the fourth quarter were pass plays.

Opponent

Runs

Avg.

Pass

Avg.

Arizona

11

5.73

17

5.59

The running game

After two weeks of dismal rushing efforts, the Chiefs got back on track for at least one Sunday – notwithstanding the inability to punch it in from the 1 when they got down there in the second quarter.

The appearance of 330-pound Sean Smith as the lead blocker in the Chiefs “heavy” package gives them some additional beef, and Haley said “He was highly motivated. Guys get excited to be in the game down there.”

The other place the Chiefs running game/offense failed to produce was when they were pinned back at their goal line late in the first half. The obvious call is to try and run the ball out to get some room for the punter. Haley said the goal in that situation is to “get two first downs.”

With defenses packed against the run, I don’t have an issue with play-caller Charlie Weis taking a shot with a pass on first down. But good running teams, even when people are stacked against the run, figure out a way to dig themselves a yard or two.

It’s the first time the Chiefs offense has been called on to come out of the end zone in such a critical situation. Haley says they spend a lot of time on that situation in practice and planning, but they failed at it on Sunday.

Some will take issue with the distribution of carries with Charles averaging more than 7 yards per carry. But I would defer to the coach’s decision. We’re in uncharted territory with Charles.

In the first eight games of 2009, Charles had 29 carries and was fresh in the second half of the season. His 16-game durability is unknown – he already has been nicked several times. And he still is on pace to have 203 carries – more than he carried last season (190).

So bottom line, I have no issues with the distribution of carries in a game as lop-sided as this was.

Back

4 or more

3 or less

Big runs 

Winning plays 

Charles (12 for 88 yards)

6

6

3

6 of 12

Season (139-848)

76

63

28

68 of 139

Jones (15 for 71 yards)

5

10

3

7 of 15

Season (156-644)

65

91

14

72 of 156

Winning runs are runs that gain 4 or more yards or result in a first down or touchdown.

The passing game

The continued absence of Dexter McCluster (four weeks now) removes one of Matt Cassel’s big-play threats. But Charles has been a bigger factor in the passing game the past three weeks, and his average of 16 touches is about where he should be.

WR Dwayne Bowe continues to improve (meaning he is becoming more and more consistent). He continues to be Cassel’s favorite target, particularly with the absence of Tony Moeaki.

Cassel continues to impress me as the perfect quarterback for an improving team. He has not done things to get his team beat, and his comfort level (confidence that they will run correct routes) with receivers seems to be improving each week.

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

vs. Arizona

15-24-193-2-0

6

1

8

8.04

Season 

173-291-2,074-18-4

45

25

82

7.13

Targets

Receiver

vs. Arizona

Season

 

Target

Catches

Target

Catches

Bowe 

8

6

81

45

Charles

5

4

42

30

Chambers

2

1

29

13

Copper

1

1

19

12

Moeaki

DNP

 

45

31

Tucker

4

1

11

3

Pope

1

0

12

6

Jones    

9

5

Cox    

3

3

McCluster

DNP

 

23

15

Vrabel

1

0

2

1

Castille     

7

Horne     

1

O’Connell

2

2

3

3


3 Responses to “The Numbers Game: 11/23”

  • November 24, 2010  - Craig says:

    Hi Bob,
    Great article as usual. GO Chiefs. They are a work in progress. Need more depth. I have been thinking and most fans and experts were only expecting 5-6 wins this year. The fans got their hopes up real fast after the San Diego win and the only losses that really hurt are the Raiders and DOnkeys. But everyone elevated their preseason expectations. This is OK but then placed unreal expectations on the team and especially Cassell, who as you have identified is playing real well at the moment. I would love to see the Chiefs make the playoffs which is a reality but if they don’t, they have already exceeded preseason expectations. Go Chiefs!


  • November 24, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Craig,
    was a good article, but was Kents…


  • November 24, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    Bob makes it possible with web site. Don’t care who gets credit as long as you keep reading them.




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