An Uninformed Look at Drive Charts

I love posts where you can throw "Uninformed" out there as a disclaimer before you even begin. It's like being able to say, "With all due respect" and then insulting the hell out of someone. The drive chart for this past weekend's game is on the left and the first preseason drive chart is on the right..

First_two_weeks_drive_charts_medium

Number of drives: 11 (Last game: 10)

Average starting field position: 31 yard line (Last game: 24 yard line)

Average number of plays per drive: 6.6 (Last game: 6.1)

Average net yards gained per drive: 31.3 (Last game: 34)

Average drive time: 3:06 (Last game: 3:00 minutes)

Longest drive: 60 yards (Last game: 81 yards)

Time of possession: 34:07 (Last game: 29:54)

I still have not seen a down of Kansas City Chiefs preseason football so take these posts with a grain of salt for a few days. It's Tuesday and the regulars from last year know that Tuesday is stat day around here, where we look at drive charts, game stats and the play by play calls to make sense of what happened over the weekend.

So, I'm taking the perspective of a complete outsider so the idea of this post will be for me to glean some analysis from these charts and for you to set me straight.

It appears at least initially that there was some progress made from the Chicago Bears game (on the left) and the Arizona Cardinals game (on the right). The AZ game had three drives of at least ten plays, which is something you simply did not see from the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs. Starting field position improved quite dramatically from week to week as well. Last year, if you got the Chiefs behind the 40 yard line to start a drive, it was nearly impossible for the team to score.

The long, sustained opening drives of both games is also encouraging and while still fitting in with the pattern of last year. When the Chiefs did actually "drive" the ball down the field, it was early in the game. Without looking at the play by play, I'm guessing the first offensive drives of both games featured a heavy dose of Larry Johnson and the running game?

It was common last season for the Chiefs to have their best drive in the first half and often in the first quarter. And as we all know, things basically shut down in the second half of games. To have even scored on both of the first offensive drives of each game is awesome as well.

To look at a Chiefs drive chart and to have the majority of drives NOT be three and outs is a huge sign of progress. The Chiefs led the league last year in three and outs. And when you think about it, is there a more damning indictment of an offense than to not get more than three offensive plays off in a row? I think not. Everything stems from being able to control the line of scrimmage and impose your will. And I know you knew that already.

[Finally looks at the play by play and individual stats]

Wow, a 50% third down completely percentage against Chicago? That's a huge sign of progress, even if only for a preseason game. Again, the Chiefs were terrible at converting third downs last season and to see anything about 40% is going to catch my eye.

Another major area of needed improvement is rushing first downs. The Chiefs first downs last year were totally out of whack. As the season wore down, the Chiefs had nearly three times as many passing first downs as rushing first downs. We ended the season with 68 rushing first downs and 171 passing first downs. Of course, the passing first downs will naturally outweigh the rushing ones but you simply cannot have such a huge disparity and expect to move forward.

There is a wealth of statistics to go over in the gamebooks on NFL.com. One look at a gamebook and you'll see where the pundits get their information so quickly.

Even though I only touched on a few points, the stats point towards progress. We had little opportunity to do anything but improve this preseason and I'm so glad that's what's happening.

Remember- progress, not playoffs this year. Adjust your expectations accordingly and this season is going to be a lot of fun to watch. I haven't even seen a down yet and I can tell we're going to improve dramatically.

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