From what I have been hearing from the coaches, the Chiefs are going to continue to run Chan Gailey’s version of the spread offense. A couple of players been quoted saying the offense is the same. Obviously it won’t be exactly the same. There are new players and personnel in place and a new, offensive minded head coach. It is also expected that the solid QB play the team received last year from Tyler Thigpen will be improved by exceptionally QB play by Matt Cassel and the additions of Mike Goff and Bobby Engram.
We all know the Chiefs started scoring more points when they went to the spread last year. The offense was exciting and fun to watch. In fact, the offense and the emergence of Tyler Thigpen were about the only things that made the season bearable. I have toyed with these numbers a bit in the past but I did a more detailed analysis today. Yes, I do more than write humor articles. (Although I find them much more enjoyable than number crunching).
I was inspired by the discussion about D-Mac. I have been a big hater on the big Jamaican after watching defenders run around him without D-Mac so much as blowing some air on them to divert their path to our QB’s. Some folks disagreed with me and I decided to crunch some numbers to prove that the only reason the offensive line play improved last year was because of the spread. What I discovered was that for Matt Cassel and the Chiefs to win games this year they will need help from the defense. Not even 5 Randy Moss's will change that.
Here are my findings;
I divided the numbers into two categories. Set 1 is pre Spread or pre Jet’s game. Set 2 is post Spread or everything from the Jet’s game on. Keep in mind that there were 6 games pre Spread and 10 games post. There are some interesting results.
Pre Spread: 18
Post Spread: 19
Had the Chiefs continued with the Pro-Set Offense they were on pace to relinquish 48 sacks.
Had the Chiefs ran the spread all season they would have been on pace to relinquish 30.4 sacks.
The offensive line play seemed to improve drastically with the implementation of the spread offense. Obviously there are multiple factors involved here but on a basic level, these findings are drastic. I have stated before that I think the spread offense helped people like D-Mac from looking pitiful. I think this is still true to some extent. When I saw D-Mac getting beat in pass protection the defenders weren’t doing anything fancy, they were running around him. The defenders would be by him before he even got out of his stance. This is worrisome and while he is an upgrade over Turley, I believe he is a year older and still a liability.
Another question I had was about rushing yards. I did the numbers pre spread and post spread. This stat is especially murky for many reasons. The most obvious of which is that the Chiefs passed so much in the spread that they ran less times, which of course, would lead to decreased yardage. This does appear to be what happened. The following are team-rushing yards and include all of Thigpen’s scrambles as well as all of Croyle’s attempts to save his own life.
Pre Spread: 727
Post Spread: 1083
Rushing Yard Projections
Had the Chiefs continued with the Pro-Set Offense they were on pace to gain 1938.6 yards on the season.
Had the Chiefs run the Spread all season they were on pace to gain 1732.8 yards on the season.
Even with Thigpen’s wheels, the Chiefs would have rushed for more yards from the Pro Set. Again, there were far fewer rushing opportunities from the spread so these numbers don’t tell us a lot but they are interesting none the less.
The next category is a slam-dunk in favor of the spread offense.
Pre Spread: 75
Post Spread: 216
Had the Chiefs continued with the Pro-Set Offense they were on pace to score 200 points on the season. That is a mere 12.5 points per game.
Had the Chiefs run the Spread all season they were on pace to score 345.6 points on the season. That is + 145.6 points! Now 345.6 points on the season still isn’t super high. For the Chiefs to have a winning record they will need to improve their defense drastically or they will have to score over 550 points to have a shot at the playoffs and just because they got Matt Cassel they are not the 2007 Patriots. There is some hope to be had. Can you guess what team scored exactly 345 points last season and made the playoffs? That’s right, the Miami Dolphins, who were coming off a season with 1 win. They also had a new coach and a new QB that the Chiefs passed up in favor of the younger Croyle.
If you believe the Chiefs offense is going to be better this year and they are going to run the same system, there is a chance they could score MORE than the 345 points they could have scored last season with Thigpen at the helm. If this is true than the Chiefs MUST make improvements on defense and they can win some games.
That brings us to the points given up. I found this before and I had forgotten about it but this statistic is really astounding. There has been a lot of talk around here about Thigpen’s poor second half play and the team’s inability to adjust and continue to score points in the second half. This is a sensible argument. It is very important for a team to be able to pull out the game in the 4th quarter. This shows toughness, resilience and conditioning. It is also a sign of experience, an attribute last year’s Chiefs were severely lacking. In the case of last year’s defensive campaign, however, the deck was stacked against Tyler Thigpen and the Chiefs offense.
As you know by now the Chiefs gave up a humiliating 440 points last season while only getting to the opposing teams QB 10 times. If you watched last year you also know a couple of those sacks were gifts. Some also argue that the Spread puts more pressure on a defense because it can lead to quick scores thus forcing the defense to play more minutes.
Here are the shocking defensive numbers.
Pre Spread: 165 or 27.5 points per game.
Post Spread: 275 or 27.5 points per game.
This is remarkable. This was about the only consistent thing about the last year’s Chiefs. The defense was so pitiful that even a major philosophical shift on the offensive side of the ball and an increase in scoring of 9.1 points per game did not change a single thing. Pro Set or Spread the 2008 Chiefs defense was simply awful. For Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, Ingle Martin, Quin Gray, that guy who threw a pass as a QB in the Raiders debacle, Joe Montana, Len Dawson or Santa Clause to have been successful leading last years offense they would have had to average over 27.5 points per game. Yes, this means the Chiefs, to merely out score their opponents last year would have had to score over 440 points. How many teams scored 440 points or more last season? Have a guess? 1. The New Orleans Saints. They scored 463 points and their defense gave up 393 points. The Saints record? 8-8.
The Chiefs offense certainly hasn’t been prolific but since the switch to Gailey’s spread they have been respectable. I know many Chiefs fans weren’t happy that Pioli did not get more receiving or offensive line help. However, if you look at these numbers you have to get onboard with the first couple rounds of the Chiefs draft going to defense. They knew what scheme they are going to run and they were doing everything in their power to get the right guys for it. The defense has to improve or it doesn’t matter how many points the Chiefs score or who is throwing the football.
The Chiefs might be a year away from a winning record and a playoff run. However, given these numbers and the moves the Chiefs have made I think they are heading strongly in the right direction. The young guys have another year of experience so there should be improvements. The defense will almost certainly improve because it would be hard to for them to get much worse.
Forget about D-Mac, the loss of Tony and the offensive line issues. The Chiefs and Matt Cassel will live and die this season by how far Clancy Pendergast, Tyson Jackson, Derrick Johnson, Pollard, Page, Carr, Vrabel, Thomas and Dorsey take them.
Someone below requested a break down of defensive points given up over quarters. Your wish is my command. More data.
Chiefs Points given up Steelers
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT
77 141 106 113 3 54 65 29 75 0
The Chiefs gave up an average of 4.8 points in the first, 8.8 in the second, 6.6 in the third and 7.1 in the fourth. That is 13.6 points in the first half vs. 13.7 in the second half. So really the Chiefs sucked the whole game. With the exception of the first quarter. It appears there were minor adjustments made at halftime, however, it didn't do much good.
The Steelers? 3.3 in the first, 4.1 in the second, 1.8 in the third and 4.6 in the fourth. Or 7.4 first half vs. 6.4 second half. The Steelers only gave up an average of 13.9 points per game! On the conditioning issue. 4th quarter points probably aren't a sign the team is poorly condiditioned as the Steelers gave up the most points in the 4th and I doubt anyone would say those guys were out of shape. If you think about it, the Steelers gave up less points in the 4th quarter when they should have been the most tired, than the Chiefs gaveup in the first, when they should have been as fresh and focused as possible. If this is all due to conditioning than the Chiefs were in terrible shape and as soon as they got tired they started getting burned. I think it is probably a little of that and the fact they just weren't as talented as the other teams and the other teams figured them out.
On another note, the Steelers were SICK in the third quarter. Giving up only 29 points ALL SEASON! The Chiefs gave up 23 points to Trent Edwars in ONE QUARTER, a guy who, the few weeks before that game, was basically just handing the ball to opposing DB's.
The Steelers 4th quarter failure, if you want to call it that, is probably due to the fact that they were winning in the 4th so much that teams were taking more chances in an effort to come back and scored more points. By then, however, the Steelers D at sealed their fate.