The Numbers Game/Post-Denver

As you have surmised by now, my fundamental belief in the numbers is that Super Bowl contending teams must do two things extremely well. They must run the ball.

More important, they must stop the run.

The Chiefs have failed miserably in both those areas the past two games, prompting head coach Todd Haley to say his teams must get back to the fundamentals – the things they were doing well coming out of training camp.

“On a baseline, it’s blocking and tackling,” Haley said Monday following his team’s trashing by the Denver Broncos. “But for us it’s playing the technique the way we are coaching it on all sides. We teach specific techniques on how we want to do things – whether it’s up front or the tight end position or the receiver position or the quarterback. This team has to do all those things at a high level. If we do, we should have a chance down in and down out.”

The Chiefs may have been the victim of some of their early success. They were good stopping the run early in the season. The past two games, they have lost that, perhaps intoxicated with their early success and not covering the basics.

The Broncos had winning run plays on nine of the 12 running plays they ran the first half. On the initial six running plays, they averaged more than 10 yards per carry. For the game, the Broncos averaged nearly five yards per carry, continuing a trend when the Chiefs defense allowed an average of one-yard per carry more the second four games than the first four.

“They say success is the biggest obstacle to success,” Haley said. “We had some success. Good teams do things a certain way on a consistent basis. Some teams can get away with it, but we can’t. We are just not there yet.

“The key is that we handle those bumps and that adversity and we show the ability and resiliency to bounce back.”

Defense

Giving up 49 points is proof enough that the defense failed in this game. But even more telling is this:

Opponent 

Runs/Yards

3 yards-less

4-plus 

Big play 

Success+ 

Avg. 

@ Denver

31-153

14 

17 

5 

18 

4.9 

First-down breakdown

The Broncos ran it 19 times on first down, including 10 of 11 times in the second half as they tried to work the clock.

They also took advantage of the Chiefs inexperience at safety with two of the top three defenders at that position out of the game. Denver passed on first down in their first four first down chances and seven times in the first quarter.

Opponent

Runs

Avg.

Pass

Avg.

@ Denver

19*

4.0 

12 

10.4 

* One kneel-down at end of game

The running game

For the second straight week, the Chiefs struggled running the ball – and not just because they were down 35-0 before you got settled in your easy chair. Even when the game was close in the first quarter, the Chiefs struggled running. Of the 18 running plays by their two primary runners, only three were for 4 or more yards. For the first game this season, the Chiefs had no run of 10 yards or more.

The Raiders stuffed the Chiefs run. The Broncos went to school on what the Raiders did. Expect the Cardinals to do the same. It wasn’t for lack of trying on first down. For only the second time this season, the Chiefs ran on first down the first three times they had first down. Each time they were left in second-and-long. After that, eight of the next nine first-down plays were pass plays. Once the second half began, the Chiefs ran on first down just twice and passed 19 times.

They again suffered because of the absence of Dexter McCluster, whose breakaway speed in the backfield might have given them another threat.

Back

4 or more

3 or less 

Big runs 

Winning plays 

Charles (14 for 41 yards)

3

11 

Season (127-760) 

70

57 

25 

62 

Jones (4 for 3 yards) 

0

Season (141-573) 

60

81 

65 

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

The passing game

Statistically the Broncos game was quarterback Matt Cassel’s best of the season with completing 33 of 53 passes for 469 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The QB rating of 116.0 is outstanding.

They are somewhat hollow numbers – though I would agree with Coach Todd Haley that some good came from them. The numbers were high because the Chiefs were out of the game early. In his news conference Monday, Haley reiterated that the Chiefs have to run the ball efficiently to give themselves the best chance to win.

“The second half was some things we had not been able to put in a lot of practice time, and that could be a real spring board for you,” Haley said. “We have to run the ball efficiently, but you have to be able to throw when you have to.”

Which is exactly what the Chiefs were able to do – albeit not well enough to get back into the game.

Passing 

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

@ Denver

33-53-469

23 

5.85 (6.33)

Season 

158-267-1,881

45

25 

82 

6.68 (6.83)

Targets
 

@ Denver

Season

Receiver

Target

Catches 

Target 

Catches 

Bowe

18

13 

73 

39 

Charles

9

37 

26 

Chambers

8

27 

12 

Copper

8

18 

11 

Moeaki

3

45 

31 

Tucker

3

2 

Pope

2

11 

6 

Jones

1

5 

Cox

1

3 

McCluster

DNP

 

23 

15 

Vrabel

   

1 

Castille

   

6 

Horne

   

0 

O’Connell

   


6 Responses to “The Numbers Game/Post-Denver”

  • November 16, 2010  - Edward says:

    No question biggest killer in this game was Chiefs inability to stop the run. We became very vulnerable to play-action and Orton just shreaded us. Crennel needs to remember the same type of defense doesn’t work for all QBs. Just because it works against Manning doesn’t mean its going to work against everyone else. We have Hasselback, Orton, Campbell, and Rivers remaining and against those guys you have to unleash alot of exotic blitz and be physical with those receivers to throw the rythem of the route off. You can’t just sit back in zone coverage and rush 4 or 5 guys. You have to really make all those guys move around in the pockect which is something none of those QBs like to do.


  • November 16, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Nothing was more evident about issues in the running game than the 1st down inside the 1 in Q3. Ran 3 of 4 plays (3 different runners) and didn’t gain an inch. The #1 rushing offense in the NFL should have had no problem punching that in even without Brian Waters.


  • November 17, 2010  - Chuck says:

    Just “possibly” the Chiefs Offense is becoming a little to “predictable”. Charlie W. time to really put the old thinking cap on. T. Jones only 4 carrys???? Also did anyone else notice we never got any “pressure on Orton”???? That continues to be a large part of our Problems. When the QB has ample time, he almost always will find someone open. It never gets mentioned but until we fix that teams are going to “tear us up” on passing. Orton and Campbell certainly did.


  • November 17, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    @aPauled,
    “even without Brian Waters.”

    Unpossible. Even though he’s getting old, Waters is the man. I don’t see this as being a Cassel or receiver/back or playcall issue so much as a breakdown in the fundamentals of the O-line (and D-line for that matter).


  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Every team has a “throw away” game every once in a while. Denver and oakland games seem to fit that category. Bad thing is they are division opponents, the time the Chiefs could have made a move for the playoffs in 2010, and probably has some of the players questioning just what the season is all about. Still more football to be played, how the Chiefs fair the rest will tell a lot about the team.


  • November 17, 2010  - Craig says:

    The story on Cassel is he played in a Shotgun style in New England and was good at it. He is not so good as a drop back passer. The problem with the gun is it limits the running game and puts pressure on the O line to pass block better. Maybe the Chiefs need to use more shotgun formations. We need to sustain some drive in the 1st and 2nd quarters. Cassel needs to hit the receiver in the opening period not only later in the game. Go Chiefs. It is a work in progress.




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