The Numbers Game

When the Chiefs play the Colts on Sunday they will be facing one of the worst defenses in the league against the run, and Chiefs coach Todd Haley only half-jokingly said this week that he would like to run the ball 65 times.

That would mean a couple of things – that the Chiefs were in a close game and that they could keep Peyton Manning on the sideline for long periods of time. Taking that into consideration, here’s a look at the offensive numbers the Chiefs have put up the first three weeks of the season – with the San Francisco game broken out for the offense. A reminder: runs of 3 yards or less are deemed a failure unless they result in a first down or a touchdown.

Player 

Tot.

3 or less

4+ 

10+ 

Successful

Charles vs. S.F 

12/97

4

Season 

34/238

17

17 

17 

Jones vs. SF

19/95

8*

11 

13 

Season 

52/217

28**

24

1

27

* Includes two short-yardage runs for first down and touchdown. ** Includes three short-yardage runs for first down or touchdown.

###

For quarterback Matt Cassel, the improvement has been dramatic since the season opener against the Chargers in a monsoon. The Chiefs appear to be putting him into more situations where he can be successful (i.e. play-action passes). Even though the Colts have a battered secondary, play-action passes might be critical for success this week with the outstanding rushers Dwight Freeney (three sacks) and Robert Mathis (four sacks.)

Don’t look for huge passing numbers from Cassel this week unless the defense fails to stop the Colts. Again, remember that 7.5-8 yards per attempt (Peyton Manning averages 7.94 yards per attempt) is regarded as a good rate. Less than 7 yards is a failure as a pass play.

Passing 

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

Cassel vs. SF 

16-27-250

11 

9.26* 

Season

42-77-494

18 

3 

21 

6.42* 

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

FOR THE DEFENSE

The first criteria for a top-flight defense is to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, it matters little how efficient the pass rush is. In that category, the Chiefs rank No. 3 in the league.

The Chiefs have improved in each of their three games in total yardage against them rushing. More important, they have been successful in holding opponents to less than four yards 45 times in 70 rushing plays against them. Of those, 43 are successful defensive plays (two short-yardage runs produced a touchdown or first down).

That being said, it may be of little importance against the Colts. The Colts have the top pass offense in the league and are last in the league in rushing. Stuffing the run this week remains important, but the Colts rely on their passing attack to set up the run rather than vice versa.

The Chiefs rank No. 10 in the league in pass rush, sacking the quarterback once every 14 pass attempts. They have a big challenge because Manning is sacked just once every 43 attempts.

Chiefs against the run    

Opponent 

Runs/Yds

3-less 

4-plus 

Avg 

San Diego 

29-109

20 

3.7 

At Cleveland 

26-73

15* 

11 

2.8 

San Francisco

15-43

10* 

2.8 

* Includes 1-yard touchdown for Cleveland and 2-yard run for first down with San Francisco

Don’t look for the trend of the first two games to continue. Both San Diego (the monsoon) and Cleveland ran the ball on first down more than they passed. With the 49ers trailing most of the game, San Francisco passed on first down 10 times more than it ran on first down. Look for the Colts to throw more first-down passes than runs – because that’s what Manning does.

First down breakdown

Opponent

Runs

Avg. 

Pass 

Avg. 

San Diego 

19

5.2 

11 

10.5

@ Cleveland 

15

3.8 

4.6 

San Francisco 

7

3.1

17

4.4


6 Responses to “The Numbers Game”

  • October 6, 2010  - TruChief09 says:

    Great work Kent. Your statistical analysis is high quality. Anyway you could turn some of these stats into percentages? For example, percent of plays that were successful for a run, pass, or stopping the run. This may form some sort of efficiency that would be interesting to compare to other players in the league. Again, you have got some good stuff going here


  • October 7, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    For you stats geeks – here’s a different approach:
    http://www.footballsfuture.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=407629
    However – you’ll have to draw your own conclusions!


  • October 7, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    TruChief09
    The percentages for the Chiefs guys will be easy to figure because I have the numbers. Comparing it to other runners in the league would be interesting, but it would require breaking down a player rush by rush. Am looking for some good stats on individual receivers that I think would be meaningful — or at least interesting. Kent


  • October 7, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Like your stats Kent.

    I’m hoping you do this weekly.
    Go Chiefs.


  • October 7, 2010  - Justin says:

    Excellent effort Kent.


  • October 7, 2010  - TruChief09 says:

    Kent,
    I could definitely see how that would be difficult for calculating the other backs. Looking forward to your receiver analysis!




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