For those of you looking for one of my positive "Kool Aid" posts, stop reading right now. This is not one of those posts. When I started doing my weekly posts about things we can feel positive about as Chiefs fans I began looking at different areas of our favorite team and looking for statistical proof of things that are going well or getting better. Over the last two weeks I have been digging into the pass defense looking for something positive. You can definitely make a case for Flowers being a great up and coming corner and even a case for Carr being a solid starting NFL corner. However, these two have not been enough to make our pass defense anything even close to resembling an acceptable unit. Early in the season most Chief fans were in agreement that the number one thing that needed upgraded on our team was the offensive line. I now propose to you AP that this is no longer the case. It is the pass defense that should be our number one concern going into this off season.
After the jump I'll give you the stats to back this up.
The Chiefs pass defense is currently rated 30th in the NFL. They are giving up 258.3 yards per game. QBs are completing 59.2% of their passes. They have given up 19 TDs to 7 INTs and opponents are averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt (not completion, attempt).
Now these numbers are where the Chiefs are at. However, as bad as those numbers are, I'm going to argue that things are actually a lot worse then even those numbers show. Those numbers include two games against J. Russell who we all know is just not a NFL caliber QB. Pass defense numbers against Russell just do not represent how a team really stops a typical NFL passing game. So I averaged the stats of the starting QBs in the other 9 games (I included both Campbell and Collins in the Washington game since they split the game 50/50). Here are the averages for the starting QBs in those 9 games.
298.7 yards per game
64.2% completion percentage
19 TDs to 5 INTs
8.9 yards per pass attempt
Wow, that is some really bad pass defense ladies and gentlemen. For a little perspective here are Tom Brady's numbers for this season.
298.7 yards per game
65.7% completion percentage
20 TDs to 8 INTs
7.7 yards per pass attempt
So basically we make every QB not named Russell look like Tom Brady and the NE pass attack. The only area where Brady can't hang is in the yards per pass attempt stat. Only Drew Brees is averaging that many yards per attempt at 9.1.
These numbers alone are probably enough to prove my point, but I've just begun my friends. Now lets take a look at the WRs and TEs we've faced.
We've discussed before how TEs have hurt us this year. In the non-Oakland games the starting TEs are averaging about 5.2 receptions per game for 66 yards. They have scored 5 total TDs and AVERAGE a long reception of 23.3 yards. This means that we average giving up at least one 20+ yard reception to a TE each game. For some perspective, Tony Gonzalez is averaging 5.5 receptions per game for 60.5 yards and 5 total TDs.
So basically we make every TE not thrown to by Russell look like Tony G.
I wish I could tell you that things get better when we look at the opposing WRs. This is actually the worst of the group. Here are the average stats for the leading WRs in the non-Oakland games:
just over 20 yards per reception
Randy Moss can't stack up to that:
just under 1 TD
about 15 yards per reception
Larry Fitzgerald can't stack up to that:
just under 1 TD
about 11 yards per reception
So basically we make the leading receiver of all non-Oakland teams look better then Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald.
One final stat for you. The average long pass play against the Chiefs this year in non-Oakland games is 51.5 yards. So we give up one 50+ yard pass per game as long as our good friend J. Russell isn't throwing the ball.
I know our offensive line needs upgraded. I know that Matt Cassel needs to step up his game. I know that Haley needs to hire an OC to help with play calling. However, in my opinion, everything else is secondary (pardon the pun) to fixing the pass defense. Some of you are wondering if you can make up for this bad of pass defense by upgrading the offense enough to keep up or just improve the run defense. You only have to look at our own team earlier this decade to find your answer.
In the past 10 years our pass defense has been REALLY bad on two other occasions. In 2004 we ranked 32nd in pass defense with 262.7 yards per game, 59.8% completion percentage, 32 TDs to 13 INTs, and 8.5 yards per reception. That season we were 7-9 despite having the number one offense in total yards and the 12th rated run defense. In 2002 we ranked 31st in pass defense with 261.3 yards per game, 65.4% completion percentage, 27 TDs to 18 INTs, and 7.1 yards per reception. That season we were 8-8 with the number four offense in total yards and the 24th rated run defense.
So even with an elite offense you can't get above .500 with a pass defense this bad. Our team is currently rated 30th in total offense and 27th in run defense. So even with the improvements that we are currently seeing it isn't realistic to think they will improve enough in one year to get us to .500 without fixing the pass defense too.
In my opinion we need to upgrade the coverage by our safeties, nickel backs, and LBs. We also need another pass rusher so that Hali isn't on his own trying to put pressure on the QB. I am also in agreement with most AP posters who think Pendergast has got to go. The numbers we are giving up in the pass game are just totally unacceptable.
Okay, so you know I can't end the post without trying to be a little positive. If there is any good news it is that the final five games we have are against the 18th, 26th, 31st, 21st, and 18th rated passing offenses. So at least we don't have any of the elite passing teams left on our schedule. If you're still depressed, I apologize. I'll be back next week with my regular glass of Kool Aid.