From the FanPosts -Joel
So here we are, on the eve of the Superbowl. Only 1 more day until the 2010 NFL offseason officially begins. Ok, I know that March 5th starts the new league year, but I’m speaking from a fan perspective. After the final game has ended, the last buffalo wing has been dipped, the pizza boxes go empty, and the beer cooler is drained (or in my case: 150 homemade hand rolled eggrolls, a 15lb whole smoked pork shoulder, 4 bottles of small batch bourbon, and a few ‘illegal’ cigars are smoked) the 2009 season will be all wrapped up.
It’s time again to start looking ahead to what our beloved Chiefs should be focusing on doing in the offseason to turn our team around. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to look back to the past. A lot of different people have a lot of different ideas about what the Chiefs NEED headed into 2010. I’ve decided to let the past answer that question for me, and take its advice in defining the path for the offseason.
As is my usual fashion I’m about to bury you in words and paragraphs of opinion and data, and then I’ll draw my conclusions from what I present. However, this post will be historical in that it will be the first time (and maybe the last because I've now tried to put a table on AP) that I’ll ever try to toss in tables, charts and a few pictures to lighten the load on those of you that actually bother to read what I write before commenting.
Without further ado (I know. Too late, right?) We begin with a table of information:
note: green lines denote playoff years
This table represents the modern era of the Chiefs with some basic numbers that we may be able to use to define the path of the offseason. I choose to limit the data to wins, points, runs, passes, sacks and giveaways because I’m fairly lazy realized how much work was ahead of me and so after I made the initial spread sheet I crossed off the other 5 categories that I had penciled in to analyze (Hey, I may be lazy, but at least I’m honest). It’s really not all that useful because it’s not arranged in a way that is easy to read without hunting through the data. However, it’s where I started, so I thought I should allow you a look at the unedited data. If you are a stat hound I’d suggest going to http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/kan.htm like I did. There is enough on that site to keep you sniffing hydrants and licking yourself to last the entire offseason.
First off, let’s rearrange that data based on winning % (and another factor I like to call ‘Vermeil is overrated’). I want to look at the data from a winning perspective because I’m tired of having to eat one of these every damn football season while watching my Chiefs:
Things to note from an initial glance:
- Marty Schottenheimer is a god among coaches
- For all the hype, Vermeil has as many losing seasons as winning ones (2) and only an 8.8 win average per season to Marty's 10.1
- Edwards rode Vermeil's team right into the ground
- Ganz, no matter how much you hate him, put a better team on the field than Edwards. (Choke on that Herm lovers!)
By looking at the table alone it should jump out at you that give away/take away is huge. There is the occational statistical anomaly (as is expected in any sample of data) but the numbers don't lie. Successful Chiefs teams take away the football, and don't give it back. Haley was positive in '09 (+1), but just barely. The team must do a better job than they did last year.
Points Scored: All over the board. Winning seasons show between 318-484 points, but there are 5 of the 10 losing/.500 seasons that also match that mark. Scoring a lot of points alnoe has no direct correlation to winning seasons. That doesn't mean the Chiefs don't need to be able to score. It just means that 21 points a game is enough to win. We don't need 45, and we don't win more games per season when we score 45.
Points Allowed: Shows that the Chiefs have never allowed more than 332 points in any winning season. They also held opponenet to less than 332 points only once in any losing season (Vermeil 2001). There appears to be a direct correlation here.
- The Chiefs NEED to hold opponents to under 332 total points for the season (20.75 p/gm)
Passing Yards: From 2792-3981 in winning years, and from 2617-4429 in losing years. There is simply too much crossover to apply any direct correlation from passing yards to wins. (Interesting note: The Chiefs have never had a winning season with +4000 passing yards. Only 1 of the 3 +4000 passing yard seasons belongs to Vermeil. The other 2 were Edwards and Cunningham's teams)
Passing Yards Allowed: Again, no direct correlations to winning. the data is simply too muddied.
Pass Attempts AND Run Attempts: We'll handle these together. There is no magic number of times the Chiefs have run or passed the ball to end up a winner.
Run Yards: 1532-2382 in winning years, and 1248-2378 in losing years. Again, no magic number of yards.
Run Yards Allowed: Only 2 of 13 winning seasons have ever had opponents run for more than 1800 yards against the Chiefs. One of those 2 years resulted in the Chiefs squeaking into a winning season at 9-7, and the other the Chiefs had a +19 turnover differential. The Chiefs have never held opponents to under 1800 yards in any losing season. I call that a direct correlation.
- The Chiefs NEED to stop the run and hold opponents to under 1800 yards (112.5 p/gm)
Total Yards: Again we see no direct correlation to a winning season.
Total Yards Allowed: There seems to be a threshold somewhere near 5200 yards allowed, but again the data is too muddy to draw any direct correlation to winning.
Sacks: There are some things to look at later, but
Sacks Allowed: The lower the better, but
On second thought, that looks pretty direct and concrete
Give Away/Take Away: Only once in any winning season was this ever a negative (8-7 season), and only twice more was it ever below +5 (both in 9-7 seasons). It's never been above +5 in any losing season. That's not perfect correlation, but with 9-7 and 8-7 seasons all being only 1 loss away from not qualifying as a winning season I'm still inclined to call this a direct correlation. Moreover, the further you look up the table the more apparent it becomes. 9 of the remaing 10 winning seasons had double digit positive turnover differentials. And 8 of the 9 losing seasons came in at less than a +4.
- The Chiefs NEED a +5 or better turnover differential
Some people just don't like tables or spreadsheets. They don't bother to read them or study the numbers. They would prefer that the conclusion just be presented to them in words. Better yet, they would like it presented as an easy to read, easy to understand pie chart. I'm not one of those people, but I have them in mind as readers while I post. Here is the simplest pie chart I could find:
Ok, now that the pie chart is out of the way, settle in while we look at yet another table that digs a bit deeper into the stats. It may be possible to reveal more NEEDS by setting up some ratios between positive and negative aspects of the same statistics that we used in the earlier tables.
Glancing over a couple of things we see what we expect to see. Win/Loss is obvious, and when you outscore your opponents you win more games. It also appears that we haven't had too many seasons where big blowouts have affected the numbers very much. The years with the highest Points Scored/Points Allowed ratios account for the most wins. As the number goes down, so do the wins. The things of note in the data are the 2 Vermeil years hovering around a 1 Win/Loss ratio.
The Chiefs had a couple of Vermeil years where they outscored their opponents and yet still managed to end up at .500 or worse. This should tell you that although they won games by larger margins, they still lost more or an equal number of games than they won. This would support the earlier NEED theory that scoring a lot of points (467 and 483 in those 2 seasons - Wow, that is a lot) does not lead to winning more games by itself. Instead, playing better defense and keeping your opponent from scoring (399 and 435 in those same years) puts you in position to win. In fact, looking back at the 2003 Vermeil led Chiefs (13-3 year) we can see that the defense held opponents to just 332 points on the season. It's not that the Chiefs scored 484 that made them winners (They scored 467 and 483 in '02 and '04 but finished .500 or less). Rather, it was not giving up 333+ points on the year.
The best teams on the table got there not by inflating the normal totals for points scored, but instead by stopping their opponents from matching scoring. Herm Edwards actually had it right when he said something like (paraphrasing here because I can't find the exact quote)
"We only need to score 1 more point than the other guy to win."
He was not trying to educate us on the definition of the word 'win'. He was attempting to highlight the notion that if you stop the opponent from scoring you only need 1 point to win the game. The other guys cannot possibly beat you if they do not score.
Looking to the Runs Attempts/Pass Attempts column, a quick glance is all you need to understand that you have to play a balanced game in order to end up a winner. When you start throwing significantly more than you run it, your success level goes down. Yes, I'm aware that when our Chiefs are always playing from behind they are forced to pass the ball, and that those passes affect the numbers. But that still does not change the direct correlation
- The Chiefs NEED to have a balanced offense
Run Yards/Run Yards Allowed: Other than the '03 and '92 seasons, this whole category seems to scream at me. It screams so loud that I'm calling it a direct correlation without even bothering to explain myself. Just look for yourself.
- The Chiefs NEED to run for more yards than they allow their opponents
Sacks/Sacks Allowed: Looking at the top and the bottom of this category tells all. When the Chiefs allow more sacks than they force, they lose games.
Looking deeper into the data reveals that although turnovers can come from picks, fumbles, and strips in the open field, there is also a strong link between Sack/Sack Allowed ratio and the turnover differential. Meaning, when the Chiefs sack the opponent more than they get sacked they also end up with more turnovers comming their way. Without further data (I wonder where it could have gone) I cannot tell you if those turnovers came from QB fumbles directly related to strip/sacks, or if they were INT's related to QB pressure, or if they happened further down the field away from the QB. Just off the cuff I would venture to guess that the increased pressure from sacks has caused INT's or mistakes by a frustrated QB. No matter which way it really happens, we are still left with the following:
- The Chiefs NEED to end the season with more sacks than they allow
Some day in the future when someone blogs or tells you what the Chiefs NEED in order to defend their mock draft or FA wish list, just remember to ask them to prove it before you swallow whatever they say next. Here comes the offseason. Now I know what the NEEDS are as well as the draft order and the available FA's that may be on the market. So all we have to do is apply our NEEDS to the available talent.
- The Chiefs NEED to hold opponents to under 332 total points for the season (20.75 per game)
- The Chiefs NEED to stop the run and hold opponents to under 1800 yards (112.5 per game)
- The Chiefs NEED a +5 or better turnover differential
- The Chiefs NEED to have a balanced offense
- The Chiefs NEED to run the ball for more yards than they allow the opponent to run on them
- The Chiefs NEED to end with more sacks than they allow
I was planning a whole 'nother section here, but I decided it would be too long, even for me. I'll judge response to this before finishing up another post titled 'The Path Defines the Offseason' as a follow up piece. If this generates enough response/discussion that I believe anyone is actually interested in my opinion I might post it.
Thanks for reading, and as always: Tear this post up in the comments below.