Let's play a fun game: what are the differences between two teams?
I would do a fancy image here, but that would ruin part of the surprise, since you would know who the teams are!
Spoiler: One of them might be the Chiefs.
Lets take a look at the two different teams, and how they rank up against each other:
|Category||Team A||Team B|
|Punt Return Avg||1st||9th|
Note: All ranks are out of 32 teams. 1 is the highest (or best), 32 is the lowest.
These two teams look pretty equal from the stats that I have given, save that Team A is not very good at passing the ball. Team A is better at running the ball, but not by much. Both their defenses look pretty good, and they are good at returning punts.
Now let's compare the quarterbacks for these two teams, since it looks like Team A has a crappy quarterback:
|Category||Player A||Player B|
Player B had the better season by a long shot, but you already knew that.
And wouldn't you know it, the above Team A is the 2010 Chiefs while Team B is the 2008 Patriots. Hmm, they seem to be pretty similar in a lot of ways. That is, other than their passing game.
Now what else is different between these two teams, and how does that compare to the current Chiefs? Lets take a look:
|Category||2010 Chiefs||2008 Patriots||Advantage|
|QB||Matt Cassel||Matt Cassel||Equal|
|O Coord||Charlie Weis||Josh McDaniels||?|
|Sacks Allowed||3 (best*)||48 (5th worst)||KC|
*Through 4 games, some teams have played 5 games.
- Both teams had good defenses. This allows the offense to be in the game and know that if they score, it will make a difference.
- Both teams have positive giveaway/takeaway ratios. This is a point that Haley has been driving home all season.
- Both teams have good punt return teams. Field position is important.
- The 2008 Patriots had better wide receivers, and the Patriots had a much better passing game than the Chiefs do right now.
- The 2010 Chiefs have better running backs, but both teams had good running games.
- The offensive line for these teams was probably pretty similar. The Chiefs have only allowed 3 sacks this year, as opposed to the 48 the 2008 Patriots team allowed. However, I don't think sacks are a good statistic to show how good a line is.
- However, this probably is a good indication that Matt Cassel spent more time in the pocket in 2008. More sacks in 2008 and yet more yards.
There are a few things you could take away from this as to why the Chiefs are not doing as well in the passing game as the 2008 Patriots.
1. Matt Cassel has regressed from his 2008 season. Completely possible that Matt Cassel was very lucky, and he really isn't as good as he showed us in 2008. He took advantage of his first opportunity to start in years and was successful.
2. Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers are not good. Cassel benefited from having two of the best WRs in the league on his team at the same time. The Chiefs have no where near as good wide receivers, and Matt Cassel is not to blame.
3. Josh McDaniels is better at calling plays for Matt Cassel than Charlie Weis. We all know that Weis was pretty good at calling plays for Tom Brady, and he did pretty good with Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame, but Matt Cassel isn't really the same type of quarterback. It's very possible that if the Broncos had been able to acquire Cassel instead of the Chiefs, he would be playing much better in the NFL than he has for the Chiefs. As mentioned above, Matt Cassel is not spending as much time in the pocket, and is rushing the ball out of his hands or scrambling. This could be due to Matt Cassel himself or the plays being called from above.
Everyone seems to be focusing on options 1 and 2, but not three. Could it be possible that the hailed hiring of Charlie Weis is not a good thing for Matt Cassel? Or perhaps is Todd Haley restricting what Matt Cassel is able to do on offense, rushing him to make short and easy throws?
I'm not sure what the difference is, but I know that the Chiefs are 3-1 and that it's probably a bit too early to make any drastic changes. Cassel is probably the easiest scape goat, but we need to let the season play out a bit more before we decide it is in fact him.
(If anyone knows of a site that has advanced NFL stats, I would love to know how many attempts over 10 or 20 yards we have this year compared to the 2008 Patriots. I think this could tell part of the story.)