Updating The Numbers

The Chiefs 13-10 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills illustrated again that QB Matt Cassel may be more than just a manager of the offense. The win would not have been possible had he not taken the Chiefs from their 31-yard line to the Buffalo 16 in the final 1-minute, 13 seconds of overtime last Sunday afternoon.

Yet conventional wisdom continues to be that he is limited as a quarterback – and certainly one game-winning drive against a winless team doesn’t make him the second coming of John Elway or Joe Montana.

But on a team that runs the ball as well as the Chiefs with the triple-threat Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster, Cassel isn’t asked to step outside his comfort range much.

That reminds us of a similar situation in 1990 in coach Marty Schottenheimer’s second year of a rebuilding program. Journeyman Steve DeBerg was the quarterback with runners Christian Okoye, Barry Word and Todd McNair as the leading rushers.

After the 1989 season in which DeBerg lost the starting job to Ron Jaworski after tossing five interceptions against San Diego and to Steve Pelluer later in the year after a meltdown at Pittsburgh, the message got through to DeBerg. Take care of the ball or take care of your plane reservations out of town. He threw just four interceptions that entire ’90 season.  

Clearly, the game has changed in the 20 years since the Chiefs first reached the playoffs under Schottenheimer. But you can be sure that Coach Todd Haley has told Cassel the same thing Schottenheimer told DeBerg.

The following is a comparison of Cassel – who one could argue is a journeyman at this point in his career – and DeBerg in that magical season. Cassel has passed for far fewer yards, but this Chiefs team has gained 1,333 yards running the ball and is well ahead of the 1990 pace of 879 yards through seven games.

Cassel also has a higher quarterback rating (90.4) than DeBerg (87.2) after seven games. And the Chiefs of 2010 are 5-2 rather than 4-3 as they were in 1990.

Game

Matt Cassel 2010

 

Steve DeBerg 1990 

 
 

A-C-Yds-T-I 

W-L

A-C-Yds-T-I 

W-L

Game 1

22-10-68-1-0 

W

28-16-196-2-0 

W

Game 2

28-16-176-0-2 

W

45-26-355-2-0 

L

Game 3

27-16-250-3-1 

W

21-9-127-0-0 

W

Game 4

29-16-156-0-0 

L

21-12-189-2-0 

W

Game 5

29-20-201-3-0 

L

36-16-212-1-3 

L

Game 6

18-13-193-2-0 

W

26-15-256-1-0 

W

Game 7

26-14-152-1-0

W

34-23-213-1-0 

L

Totals

179-105-1,196-10-3

5-2

211-117-1,548-9-3 

4-3

In Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Cassel passed for his lowest yardage total since the opening game of the season. But he was efficient once again.

Passing Total

Less than 7

7-10 yards

10-plus 

Avg/Att 
Cassel vs. Buffalo 14-26-152 

4*

5.85 (6.33)*** 
Season  105-179-1,196 

30**

15 

40 

6.68 (6.83)*** 

* Includes two short-yardage passes for first down or touchdown. ** Includes eight short-yardage first down or touchdown passes. *** (Avg.) subtracting spikes to stop the clock.

THE TARGETS

Once again Dwayne Bowe was Cassel’s favorite target, getting six passes tossed in his direction. In the absence of Dexter McCluster, Jamaal Charles was more involved in the passing game. His rushing and receiving total of 238 yards was 57.5 percent of the Chiefs offense Sunday.

Targets vs. Buffalo

Receiver

Target

Catches

Charles

5

4

Moeaki 

4

Bowe

6

3

Pope 

4

2

Jones

1

1

Copper

1

1

Tucker

2

0

Chambers

1

0

Season

Receiver

Target

Catches

Bowe 

42

21

Moeaki 

33

25

McCluster 

23

15 

Charles 

20

16 

Chambers 

17

Jones 

8

4

Copper 

8

4

Pope 

8

4

Castille 

7

Tucker 

3

Cox 

2

Vrabel 

1

Horne 

1

Running attack

The Chiefs running game continues to lead the league with 190.4 yards per game. Charles had the second-best running game of his career, gaining 177 yards. Of his 22 rushes, 17 of them would be judged as successful.

While Thomas Jones didn’t have quite the stellar day of Charles, he did put the finishing touches on an NFL record. He is the first runner in NFL history to have gained at least 500 yards in a season for five different teams.

Player

Tot.

3 or less 

4+ 

Big plays

Successful

Charles v. Buffalo

22-177

6* 

16 

17 

Season 

103-666

42* 

61

24 

63 

Jones v. Buffalo.

19-77

11 

Season 

118-538

63* 

55

11 

61 

* Includes a short-yardage runs for first down or touchdown.

Run-Pass ratio

As befitting a game against the NFL’s worst rush defense, the Chiefs ran the ball 22 times on first down and passed just 12 times. Discounting the final drive of overtime when the Chiefs passed on their final four first-down plays, the ratio was 22-8 overall – the heaviest run-pass ratio of the season.

It seemed to work. The Chiefs averaged 8.5 yards per carry on first-down rushing plays. That’s a winning formula every time.

Run defense

The Chiefs had the most successful run-play defense since Week One when they held the Bills to 19 runs of 3 yards or less. But the average gain per play was the second highest of the season thanks to an inability to corral QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who had six scrambles for 43 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

In each instance the scramble was result of a good defensive play – either good coverage downfield or pressure on the quarterback. But it also was a breakdown in containment. Take away the Fitzpatrick scrambles and the Chiefs allowed just 3.6 yards per carry.

The Chiefs first-half run defense was exemplary, holding the Bills to 3 or fewer yards on seven of the nine carries. In fact 10 of the first 12 runs were for fewer than four yards. But after that, the Bills averaged 5.1 yards per rushing attempt.

Opponent

Runs/Yds

3-less 

4-plus 

Success+

Avg.

San Diego 

29-109

20 

20 

3.7 

@ Cleveland

26-73

15* 

11 

14 

2.8 

San Francisco 

15-43

10* 

5

2.8 

@ Indianapolis

31-97

19* 

12 

14 

3.1 

@ Houston

22-132

12*

10 

10 

6.0 

Jacksonville 

23-84

15 

15 

3.7 

Buffalo 

33-137

19*

14

18

4.2

+ Success is defined by the Chiefs defense holding a runner to 3 or fewer yards unless that run resulted in a first down or touchdown. * Some of the runs of 3 or fewer yards are deemed successful if they gain a first down or score a touchdown.

First-down breakdown

The Chiefs had their poorest game since the second week in defending the run on first down. But on average, they still kept the Bills to less than 4 yards per first-down run. They were even more successful in defending the pass on first down – even including plays on which they lost contain in the pass rush and allowed Fitzpatrick to scramble. They held the Bills to a season-low 3.8 yards per pass play on first down.

Overall, the Bills faced second-and-6-plus yards throughout the game.

Opponent

Runs

Avg.

Pass*

Avg.

San Diego 

19

4.4 

12 

11.3 

@ Cleveland 

14

3.9 

11 

4.2 

San Francisco 

7

3.3 

15 

4.2 

@ Indianapolis

14**

3.5 

17 

6.0 

@ Houston

6

2.2 

20 

11.0 

Jacksonville 

9

3.7 

16 

7.5 

Buffalo 

16

3.8

17

3.76

* Includes sacks and QB scrambles as pass plays. ** One kneel-down at end of game

Sack breakdown

Containing the quarterback was a problem. Fitzpatrick scrambled six times for 43 yards total. That was six times the Chiefs had a chance to make a sack that they couldn’t finish the deal.

First down

Second down 

Third down 

Total

Passing situation*

5

3 

6

14

10

*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.


One Response to “Updating The Numbers”

  • November 4, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Nice work Kent

    But lets hope Cassel gets better than DeBerg!!! ha




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