YACA & YACO Fuel Offense … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Yards after catch for the receivers and yards after contact for the running backs – those have become a very mission for Todd Haley.

The Chiefs head coach believes that improving both statistics is one of the key reasons his team was able to win back-to-back games against Minnesota and Indianapolis after starting the season with a 0-3 record.

“The other variables have kind of washed each other out and the run after the catch to me has been a significant difference maker for us,” Haley said last week, after the Chiefs posted 146 yards after the catch and another 103 yards after first contact. That 249-yard total was easily the highest performance of the season to date.

Compare that performance to the loss in Detroit, where they combined for 95 yards after the catch and contact.

“If you start adding one yard, two yards, three yards, it changes the game dramatically if all other things are equal,” Haley said. “Yards equal points and I think there’s never been more evidence of that than (Indianapolis game.) The last three weeks I think it’s been a great study for us here going forward.”

A word about YACA and YACO – there is no official statistic for each of those categories. Between the statistical services of Elias, STATS Inc and ProFootballFocus (PFF) they each produce different numbers that are all in the same ballpark, but frequently have different totals. There’s a bit of subjectivity in a yard here or there on where a catch is made, or where contact happens. For this story, we are using the numbers from PFF.

No matter the source of the numbers, there is not discounting the impact that these yards can have in a game. Take last Sunday’s victory over the Colts. The Chiefs were down 17-0 when they had a 1st-and-10 play at the Colts 41-yard line. QB Matt Cassel took the snap under center, dropped three quick steps and threw it across the field where WR Dwayne Bowe was running a slant and caught the ball at the 36-yard line.

Bowe turned on the speed, broke a tackle at the 30-yard line and went in for the Chiefs first touchdown of the game. That was 36 yards after the catch, and you could also rack up 30 yards after contact.

Jackie Battle put a real jolt into the Chiefs running game, picking up 76 yards after contact. That averages out to 4 yards on each of his 19 carries.

“To me, really, the San Diego game, the Minnesota game and the Indianapolis game, essentially there is not a lot of difference in those games in0 turnover percentage, hidden yardage, penalties, total yardage, some of those things, until you total up yards after catch and yards after contact.”

Without their best offensive player in RB Jamaal Charles and losing one of their best receivers in starting TE Tony Moeaki, the Chiefs offense has undergone some changes in the first part of the 2011 season. With their pool of talent diminished, Haley wants his team to get everything it can from every play.

Thus, yards after catch, yards after contact.

“That’s something that I think is very coachable and it’s not asking somebody to do something that they’re not capable of doing,” Haley said. “We’ve emphasized it. We’ve worked hard on the idea that every one of those yards counts. If it’s simply just falling forward for a yard that every one of those yards adds up. Then, the key is to make sure that you complete enough balls and run it enough. In all those games, we ran it enough and we completed it enough to win those games and we didn’t turn it over, so that’s a difference maker for me.”

How does an offense produce more yards after the catch and yards after contact? Haley says it’s coachable, but he wasn’t willing to provide specific examples of how that happens with his team. But it’s not hard to point out factors that can improve those numbers.

The chances of yards after a catch are improved tremendously when the quarterback is throwing the ball accurately. That’s something Cassel has done all season; after five games, his completion percentage is 66.4. Last year, Cassel completed 56.5 percent of his throws and his career average coming into this season was 58.9 percent. After five weeks, he’s ranked No. 5 among all NFL passers.

The guys catching the ball play a role as well, from how well they run their routes, how much separation they can get from defenders, how quickly they can secure the ball and whether they can make sure they keep their momentum moving up the field, rather than sideways.

With running backs, the yards after contact come from equal parts talent, heart and desire. The back has to make sure he’s secured the ball; he has to be aware of his surroundings and the bodies flying at him. He must also keep his shoulders square, helping him to go forward in either direction when contact comes. The biggest thing is he keeps his legs moving. So often, yards after contact come when the tackler(s) stop moving their feet, but the back does not.

Cassel talks about Battle’s remarkable ability to always fall forward when he’s tackled. That’s important in yards after contact. With his 19 carries against the Colts, if Battle fell forward for two yards on every run, it’s the difference between finishing with 119 yards as he did, or 81 yards instead.

“In that game you can see what those extra yards meant to us,” Cassel said of the Chiefs offense. “We’ve got to have it.”

As Haley said, “we’ve got to wring every yards out of every play that we can.”

6 Responses to “YACA & YACO Fuel Offense … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 17, 2011  - KC_Guy says:

    Quite honestly: I don’t see that much a difference between the BUF and MIN game.
    But there’s one more stat I think would show SIGNIFICANT differences. Something I’d call DYIAFS: Downfield Yards In Air From Scrimmage.

    It may just be my impression, I have no proof at all, but I firmly believe Cassel threw the ball downfield far more often in the last two games than he did before. No more screen passes to McCluster on third down which used to end up with negative yardage, but more short drops and quick (short) downfield passes.

    Side effect: A WR running downfield automatically will be in a better position to make a few yards after catch than a guy waiting to get the ball and only then starting to accelerate.

    Same may be true for Jackie Battle’s running style: less side-to-side and being hit without forward movement, more hitting the hole and falling forward for an extra yard or two.

    So it may be worth while to have a look at the play calling as the reason behind the statistical improvement – and learn from it.

  • October 17, 2011  - Mike says:

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Bob’s article, but it’s been something that’s stuck in my craw. Peyton Manning will be a first-ballot HOFer. He’s at or near the end of his career and, without him, the Colts are a mess. Their poor season puts them in the driver’s seat for the #1 pick in next year’s draft. Thus they’re in the unique position of replacing a future HOF QB with the best QB on the board for next year (Andrew Luck). For some reason, that really upsets me.

  • October 17, 2011  - jim says:

    Shouldn’t that be a statement on the Colts site?? Who cares, and how does that affect the Chiefs. Really struggling to follow your immediate ‘Chief’s relavance’ with the direction of that statement?????

    I understnd your point, but why here, I guess is my thinking.

    And YES, Battle moving N/S and YACO/YACA should be something Baldwin, with his big body can help with……if we ever see him.

  • October 17, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    Good Article Bob.
    If Battle can get some YAC on that tough Oakland line there may be hope for our boys in red and gold. Haley said it best “when you have talent, heart & desire” anything can happen. I think Battle showed that to us all last week.
    Then we have Breaston and most particularly Bowe doing exactly what they are getting paid big bucks to do. Heres where I start getting concerned. Cassel is kind of a yo yo player that drives me crazy. He seems to be at his best when the running game is doing well. He is at his worst when it’s not.
    It’s Raider week boys & girls. I only have one prediction:
    If Battle has a good game, so will Cassel.
    Go Chiefs.

  • October 17, 2011  - el cid says:

    Just not sure. I think most of us agree the Chiefs were not the most prepared team to atart at the beginning of the season. Now we had a week off, hopefully they have not lost what they gained the last few weeks. Some rest for the walking wounded, a little mental R&R, and a solid game plan, then we can see.

  • October 17, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I think it’s huge that the Raiders lost Campbell for the season. It looks like they will go with Boller, at least in the short term. They are trying to trade for Palmer or may try and sign Garrard. Either way, they probably will have to go with Boller, perhpas spotting Pryor. I think we gear up with eight in the box and stop their running game. Try and have Boller beat us. They may hit a big ply or two but hopefully we can hold them to field goals. Of course, we are going to have to score. We haven’t had much luck scoring points on them recently. I still think we have a good chance for a win.

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