Statistics Are A Cruel Mistress: The Chiefs, Injuries And Turnovers

From The FanPosts -Joel

Everyone but the most starry-eyed homer knows that the Kansas City Chiefs over-achieved last season. It was clear skies and blue water sailing because two of the biggest factors in last year's 10-6 campaign were ones that are impossible to predict and control: injuries and turnovers.

While it's easy to find things to dislike about the Week 1 beating behind the woodshed that the Bills handed us, it's important to acknowledge that injuries and turnovers played a role in it. Statistically we were due for an uptick in both.

Injuries and Depth
In his book Finding a Way to Win: The Principles of Leadership, Teamwork, and Motivation, Bill Parcells explains how he always took heat for his draft picks, particularly while in New York. 


His philosophy was to draft players who gave his team its best chance to win immediately.

In most of his personnel moves this offseason, GM Scott Pioli seemed to be eyeing the future while improving the present competition immediately: the receiver group got Steve Breaston now and Jonathan Baldwin for the future, the nose tackle position instantly got better with Kelly Gregg and stocked the cupboard with Jerrell Powe. Re-signing C Casey Wiegmann and drafting C Rodney Hudson seemed to follow this pattern.

Unfortunately this is a team that has talent holes at starting positions (ILB, RT, Power RB). Pioli, like every other GM, did some gambling in the offseason. He addressed positions where many of us thought we needed talent infusions first (NT, WR) and left others at the mercy of free agency and luck.

When a you're still filling in talent at starter positions, it's hard to account for depth needs. Quarterback, CB and D-Line became depth priorities. Safety, ILB, TE and OL were not.

Pioli likely knew that if Kendrick Lewis, Eric Berry, Branden Albert, Barry Richardson, Tony Moeaki or Jovan Belcher were to go down, the Chiefs would be in a world of hurt.

I watched the entire game on Sunday, (I had to turn the sound off in the second half) and I saw a lot of bad plays. But something even my Raider-fan buddy noticed was that No. 42 and No. 47 were constantly around the ball—in a bad away. Eric Berry is tough act to follow under the best of circumstances but the the two guys currently behind him on the depth chart got beat like rented mules by a mediocre quarterback named Ryan Fitzpatrick on a mediocre football team.

I'll say this for Chan Gailey, he's a one of the most adaptable coaches in the game, able to change schemes and strategies quickly based on the talent he's got and who he's facing. I wouldn't be shocked if the Chiefs signed a better SS off the street. But it's time for Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel to lock themselves in a war room and decide that if Berry is going to miss extensive time, maybe a defensive scheme change is necessary.


Win the turnover battle and you'll football games is one of the oldest tenets of football wisdom. But even it doesn't escape the scrutiny of advanced statistical analysis. Here some dude actually runs the numbers on whether a better turnover differential correlates to wins, (it does) and whether it causes wins (it does.) This fact was demonstrated all to vividly in the Chiefs opening game against Buffalo, where the Chiefs got in a hole early due to turnovers.

In 2010 who were the top five teams in turnover differential? Well, four teams tied for fifth place but it's still a good looking list.


Turnovers are a hard statistic to control. Even good teams like the Steelers and Patriots have a wide variance in number of turnovers year-to-year. Certain aspects of the turnover game are controllable, like teaching your defensive players to try to strip the ball rather than go for the bone-crushing tackle. Others, like Charles' flukey helmet to ball fumble are impossible to predict or control.

The most frequent kind of turnover is usually interceptions. By limiting QB mistakes and calling passing plays based on advantageous match ups, a team can try to limit potentially deadly turnovers. I guarantee Cassel is rightfully catching hell over that pick he tried to force into coverage (especially with a man wide open on the other side of the field.)

If the Chiefs can right the ship and repeat as a top 5 top 9 team in turnover differential we'll continue to win ballgames. So if you hate watching Matt Cassel throwing the ball out of bounds when there's nobody open, just cover your eyes and remember there's a reason for it.


People are calling for Haley's head, and if the team plays flat like that again in MY Arrowhead, I'll be joining the chorus. But it's important to remember that statistics are cruel mistress and after last season's sunny vacation from injuries and turnovers we were due for a harsh regression toward the mean in both. The bitch of injuries and turnovers is most definitely back in Arrowhead, now is Haley's chance to prove he's a good man in the storm.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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