The Numbers Game: Chiefs @ 4 Games

The first quarter has come to an end. The Chiefs are 1-3.

In Charlie Sheen’s words “Not Winning!”

That’s the big picture.

Not surprisingly, the Chargers are leading the AFC West; they were the pick of most prognosticators. The Chiefs are a three-point loss to the Bolts out of first place. Here’s how the division has gotten where it is in four weeks. The AFC West teams all play against the AFC East and NFC North.

AFC West

vs. AFC East

vs. NFC North

Other 

vs. AFC West

Chargers 3-1

L/Patriots W/Miami 

W/Vikings 

Jaguars, Ravens 

W/Chiefs 

Raiders 2-2 

L/Bills, W/Jets,  L/Patriots 

0-0 

Texans, Browns 

W/Broncos 

Chiefs 1-3 

L/Bills

L/Lions, W/Vikings 

Steelers, Colts 

L/Chargers 

Broncos 1-3

0-0 

L/Packers 

W/Bengals, L/Titans 

L/Raiders 

The Chiefs, after the abysmally slow start, lag behind their pace of 2010 in almost every key category on offense and defense after four games. The only place where the Chiefs are better in raw yardage in 2011 compared to last year is in pass offense averaging 159.8 yards per game (compared to 158.0 in 2010) – though that too is worse statistically in terms of where it ranks in the league.

Both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones had more rushing yardage than the Chiefs leader this season, Dexter McCluster. Quarterback Matt Cassel had a 74.0 passer rating in 2010, and is at 75.2 this year after four games. Dwayne Bowe had just nine catches for 152 yards a year ago. He’s at 16 catches for 252 yards so far this year. Tamba Hali had 4.5 sacks compared to 4.0 this year.

Category

2011 

2010 

W-L

1-3 

3-1 

Total offense

270.5 (29) 

306.8 (24) 

Rush offense

110.8 (14) 

148.8 (3) 

Passing offense

159.8 (30) 

158.0 (27) 

Total defense

372.8 (T21) 

320.0 (16) 

Rush defense

130.0 (26) 

80.l5 (6) 

Pass defense

242.8 (17) 

239.5 (25) 

Turnover ratio

-5 (28) 

+1 (12) 

Points per game

12.3 (30) 

19.3 (9) 

Opponents points

31.5 (32) 

27.0 (28) 

THE VIKINGS GAME

For the second straight week, the Chiefs had better field position than their opponent.

 Opponent

Chiefs Average

Scoring Drives

Opponents Average 

Scoring Drives

Buffalo 

K20

K21 

B43 

K43 

Detroit 

K22

K20 

D42 

K45 

San Diego 

K36

K35 

SD28 

SD22 

Minnesota 

K31

K36 

M24 

M35 

The Running Game

The Chiefs gained just 103 yards rushing in 28 carries (including four runs by Cassel for 20 yards). Take that yardage away and the Chiefs rushed for just 83 yards in 24 carries. That’s an abysmal average of 3.45 yards per carry. If you count the two runs of 4 or more yards turned in by Cassel, the Chiefs were successful running the ball 11 of 28 plays. But I don’t consider those running plays, leaving the Chiefs successful just nine of 24 carries.

 vs. Minnesota

4 yards or more

3 yards or less

Big runs 10+ >

Winning plays 

Jones (11-37) 

3

3 of 11 

McCluster (7-26) 

4

4 of 7 

Battle (5-22) 

2

2 of 5 

Cassel (4-20) 

2

2 of 4* 

McClain (1- minus-2) 

0

0 of 1

Total (28-103) 

11

17 

9 of 24*

*-Matt Cassel runs were scrambles on called pass plays. **-Winning runs gain 4 or more yards or result in a first down or touchdown.

 Season 

4 yards or more 

3 yards or less 

Big runs 10+ >

Winning plays 

Charles (12 for 83 yards) 

6

6 of 12 

McCluster (28 for 164) 

15

13 

15 of 28 

Battle (10 for 37) 

3

2 of 10 

Jones (39 for 111) 

13

26 

13 of 39 

McClain (7 for 15) 

1

1 of 7 

Team 

41

60 

16 

38 of 97 

* Includes two long runs by a non-primary ball carrier.

The Passing Game

Despite being sacked once every 9.6 pass attempts, Cassel got his average per attempt to over 8 yards. That’s generally a winning level. The Chiefs may still be relying too much on the short passing game, but long completions to Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe are indicative that they are willing to go downfield.

 

Passing

 

Total

Less than

7 yards

7-10

yards 

10 yards plus

Avg Yds

Per Att

vs. Minn.

18-29-260-1TD-0INT

8.03 

Season

72-101-668-4TD-5INT

38 

10 

24 

6.11* 

* Includes sacks and scrambles

Cassel after 3 games 2010

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

2010 after 3 games 

58-106-650

24** 

7 

27 

6.13* 

* Includes one spike (two for season). ** Includes three short-yardage first down or touchdown passes.

The Receivers

vs. Minnesota

Target

Catches

Yards

Big plays

Bowe 

9

107 

4

McCluster 

4

12 

0

Pope 

1

Breaston 

5

91 

3

Battle 

1

McClain 

4

O’Connell 

1

Colbert 

4

33 

1

Totals 

29

18 

260 

Season

Target

Catches

Yards

Big plays

Bowe 

31

16

292

12

McCluster 

20

17

52

1

Pope 

13

9

69

2

Breaston 

15

10

179

5

Battle 

3

2

2

0

McClain 

6

3

19

1

O’Connell 

2

2

21

1

Colbert 

9

5

41

1

Charles

6

5

9

0

Copper

1

0

0

0

Urban

5

1

6

0

Jones

1

1

2

0

Cassel

1

1

-4

0

Totals 

112

72

688

23

DEFENSE

Rushing

Runs/Yds

3-less 

4-plus 

Big play

Def. Success*

Avg.

Vikings

30-151

13 

17 

13 

5.0 

Season 

159-671

72 

57 

12 

67 

4.22 

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

Donovan McNabb is clearly past his prime and his overall numbers tallied only 6.31 yards per pass attempt (including sacks). But he did gash the Chiefs for eight passes of 10 or more yards, including a 34-yarder for a touchdown. He also tossed a one-yard touchdown pass – which is a failing effort by the defense despite gaining less than 7 yards.

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

Vikings 

18-30-202-2-1

10 

6.31 

Season 

83-123-998-10-4

30 

14 

39 

7.80 

The Chiefs were awful on first down, giving up 12 successful running plays, including a couple of big-play runs. On passing, they gave up an average of 11 yards per pass attempt on first down plays.    

1st Down Plays

Runs

Avg.

Pass

Avg.

Detroit 

11-43

3.91 

17-114 

6.71 

Buffalo 

30-150

5.0 

25-193 

7.72 

San Diego 

17-60

3.8* 

11-68 

6.18 

Vikings 

20-97

4.85 

5-55 

11 

* Does not count kneel-down at end of game.

Tamba Hali picked up another pair of sacks, giving him four for the season. But the Chiefs have just five as a team, and someone else besides Hali needs to step up and make life miserable for quarterbacks. The defense did harass McNabb, recording nine quarterback pressures in addition to Hali’s two sacks.

Sacks by Down

First

Second

Third

Total

Passing situation*

Vikings 

0

Season 

1

*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.

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