It's A Matter Of Time

What is the #1 tennant of Herm Edwards offensive philosophy?

Run the clock, keep the defense off the field. 

The clock must keep moving.  The reason Herm talks about running the ball so much is because by doing that the clock keeps ticking.  The reason he wants the clock to keep ticking is because he knows that the longer a defense has to play, the more tired they get and the more they fall victim to big plays. 

So the team philosophy Herm espouses daily is: "Defense get off the field, Offense stay on."  The Yang to this Ying is that the opposing teams offense is off the field and not scoring points while their defense is on the field getting tired and making mistakes.

This is essentially what it means to have a "Conservative" Philosophy.  Time must continue to pass by.  Long, deep passes are fantastic, but it is a play with a low percentage chance of success and if it fails, the clock stops.  So instead, running the ball or completing short, high percentage passes advances the unit down the field and keeps the clock ticking.

This is not to say, of course, that we will never see any deep passes.  There are times when you can bury your opponent mentally by crushing their spirit with a nice 50 yard TD pass.  If your Defense is keeping their end of the deal up and keeping the opposing offense off the field, they are rested enough to go right back out.  But this isn't Vermeils Flying Circus anymore.

Some have been critical of the short passing game exhibited primarily in the Cardinals game when the starters were playing, but let's take a look at the Time of Possession when the starters were in both preseason games:

Time of Possession
Preseason Game 1 -   1st Quarter - 15:00
KC  -  10:03
Chicago  -  4:57
Preseason Game 2 - 1st Half  -  30:00
KC - 23:45
Arizona - 6:15

Imagine if this were the regular season and we were eating up clock like that.  The first drive against Chicago was 16 plays, 8:45 and the next time we got the ball we went 3 and out.  What if we had pushed another 6 or 7 minute drive?  It could easily have happened.

Against Arizona, we had offensive possession of the ball nearly 4 times as long as the Cardinals did.  Because it is preseason and they were playing 3rd and 4th stringers in the second half, we did not get to see the fruitages of such a lopsided Time of Possession, but if this were a regular season game where they were playing their starters the entire game, can you imagine what being on the field that long would do to their defense?  How soft it would be in the second half and especially the 4th quarter?  And this was with two quick 3 and outs in between 6+minute drives!  Had they been able to extend those 3 and outs how much bigger difference would the ToP have been?

Now think about our first regular season game against the Patriots.  How can the Chiefs possibly win a shoot-out against the most explosive offense in the NFL last year?  Simple.  We can't.

But remember the #1 tennant of the conservative philosophy.  Run the clock, keep the defense AND the opposing offense off the field.  If they aren't on the field, they can't score.

The second reason (aside from keeping your defense fresh) is to limit the number of possessions (i.e. chances to score) your opponent has.  If we are succesful in running time off the clock, the number of chances Tom Terrific and Randy Moss have to weave their magic are lessened.

Let's say the Chiefs are succesful in running time off the clock and instead of getting say an average of 15 drives in a game, they only get 10.  All of a sudden (Hermism), every time your defense is succesful in stopping them, that stop is much more valuable.  If for the sake of argument, our well rested defense is succesful in preventing the Patriots from scoring a touchdown 70% of the time, that means in the shortened game, they only score 21 points instead of 28. 

What is Herms "magic number" of points he would like to score?  Twenty Four.  If the offense hits its target points with the benefit of a tired opposing defense, winning the time of possession battle is the difference between winning and losing this game.

This is all hypothetical of course.  The offense will likely have the same or close to number of possessions as the other team and we still must make good on those opportunities and until we do and until we can reliably run clock and not go 3 and out, its not going to work.  But it is the goal.  And by the looks of what Chan Gailey has been able to accomplish with the starters thus far in the preseason, it looks like we may be getting closer.

Maybe its not as exciting to, as one critical fan said, "dink and dunk" your way down the field, but if both sides of the ball are doing their part, this clock managment conservative philosophy is a tried and true path to victory.

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