Having read a good bit of the analysis of many of the "file photo writers" found across the web, I'm starting to think that some of us mere fans have an advantage over them by closely watching and scrutinizing the actual games and game data available.
The current battle cries of "Kansas City is winning on luck" and "Kansas City is the worst 9-0 team ever" and "Kansas City will get a rude awakening when they play a good team" are all accompanied by various statistics and observations all designed to say the same thing: "This is why we all were fooled at the capabilities of this particular team that has allowed it to get to the rarified air of 9-0 and the last unbeaten team standing when it should have been "teams a, b, c, d or etc." instead
The problem is their analysis is based on their own particular biases, mental bad habits and susceptibility to drinking the overall "Modern day" NFL kool-aid. They talk constantly about Team wins for Teams like Denver when they play the Cowboys and they each hang more than 40 points on each other. My first question in a game like that is "Did both of their defenses go out for a snack?"
What I want to write about is what makes a team? Then what is the complete makeup of an NFL team?
Merriam Webster online defines team as: a group of people who work together.
Sometimes it is forgotten in the "modern NFL" that on an NFL Team, there are many groups of people who work together within their group in concert with other groups to compliment each other for the success of the larger team.
The first group that has to work together well is the Owner, GM and Head Coach.
In the case of the Chiefs we've all seen the evidence so far of how well Clark, John and Andy work together. They've set the tone for a winning culture in Kansas City. They've cleared the obstacles to overall success. They have created the climate for their people to operate and communicate and simply "get the job done."
The second group of people are the Coaching and Training Staffs.
They have the task to directly shape the tenor, tone and overall concept of the "teams on the field" as well as the availability of healthy athletes that can perform at their highest level. All of us Chiefs fans love us some Reid, Sutton and Toub. I am here to suggest that we need to show a little more love to Doug Pederson, but I'll save that for later. His job may have been the most monumental and difficult one from the start. But to me he has proven to be a valuable member of the "Coaching Team."
These gentlemen work together to achieve that overall team concept. They accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and get complimentary behavior out of each of the "Player Teams" (Offense, Defense, and the 5 Special Teams configurations).
Next there are the "Player Teams."
First a word about our "anemic" Offense. If I were a Head Coach and Offensive coordinator looking at the numbers and game tape from the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, my first thought would have been "Jeez if we stop turning over the ball we would win more games." If I were Bob Sutton I would have told Reid "If you can get the Offense to stop turning over the ball by INT, FUMBLE or 3 and out, our Defense would be instantly better. If I were Toub I would have told Reid, "we've got some great primary pieces for Special Teams, all we need are some solid ST performers and we can help with field position for our Offense, deny field position to our opponents and we have a PK that is money 49 yards and down"
And of course there are the "Player Teams" Offense, Defense, ST Punt, ST Punt Return, ST Kickoff, ST Kick Return and ST Field Goal/Point After. I also realize that within the Offense and Defense there are subgroups as well, but rarely have I seen in print anyone who differentiates the 5 different ST configurations. With the Chiefs there are veteran leaders in all phases and the eye test on the field shows that within the Offense, Defense and Special Teams units, our teams are working together as well as complimenting each other.
Now I realize I'm not saying anything that hasn't been talked about before. But after seeing all phases of the Chiefs teams play every game this year, a thought has come to mind to explain what the pundits, analysts, armchair GM's, Sports Show talking heads, and the endless stream of writers cannot seem to grasp: All of our Teams are doing their jobs as specified within the team concept.
Consider the following information and data:
2012 Offense 37 total turnovers (17 lost fumbles & 20 interceptions)
2013 Offense 8 total turnovers (4 lost fumbles & 4 interceptions) which puts us on pace for 14 or 15 total turnovers.
Currently number 2 Offense in fewest turnovers. Using the 15 total turnovers number we are on pace for a 59% reduction in turnovers from 2012.
2012 Offense total touchdowns 17 (8 passing and 9 rushing)
2013 Offense total touchdowns 16 (9 passing and 7 rushing) which puts us on pace for 28 or 29 total touchdowns.
Using the 28 total touchdowns number we are on pace for a 39% increase in touchdowns from 2012.
Getting the ball into the hands of our playmakers while not turning the ball over has yielded HUUUUUGE dividends so far for our Offense, Defense and ST's.
2012 Defense 40 total touchdowns allowed (29 passing and 11 rushing)
2013 Defense 11 total touchdowns allowed (9 passing and 2 rushing) which puts us on pace for 19 or 20 total touchdowns allowed
Using the 20 total touchdown number we are on pace for a 50% decrease in the total number of touchdowns allowed
2012 Defense 13 total turnovers caused (6 recovered fumbles and 7 interceptions)
2013 Defense 23 total turnovers caused (11 recovered fumbles and 12 interceptions) which puts us on pace for 40 or 41 total turnovers caused
Using the 40 total turnovers caused number we are on pace for a 67% increase in the total number of turnovers caused.
Reducing the mistakes by our offense and allowing our defense to attack has produced a huge increase in the real and perceived performance of our whole team. Offense, Defense and ST's.
2012 Offense/ST average field position start Own 26.2
2012 Defense/ST average field position start allowed by Opponent 28.2
2013 Offense/ST average field position start Own 34.1
2013 Defense/ST average field position start allowed by Opponent 21.7
The overall difference in field position yards for our Offense is 7.9 yards per drive. The overall difference in field position yards for our Defense is 6.5 yards per drive. Reducing the mistakes by our offense and allowing our defense to attack, along with solid ST play is giving the Chiefs more than a 14 yard advantage per drive.
2012 Punt Return Average yards 8.7 with the long of 27 and no touchdowns
2012 Kick Return Average yards 21.6 with the long of 41 and no touchdowns
2012 KC opponents KR Average allowed was 25.6
2013 Punt Return Average yards 10.5 with the long of 89 and 1 touchdown
2013 Kick Return Average yards 25.8 with the long of 57 and no touchdowns
2013 KC opponents KR Average allowed is 24.9
So for those people, pundits, talking heads, Broncos Fans and others who shout the words ‘Lucky' or ‘Weak Schedule' or other such generalistic tripe, they are right and lazy. There is no one reason for the Chiefs success this year. It's a whole lot of little ones that add up to a complete team effort.
1. An offense that doesn't turn over the ball and put their Defense and ST in bad positions.
2. A Defense that attacks and hawks the ball and grabs as many turnovers as it can get and holds a lead no matter how small and even scores when possible and necessary and doesn't put their Offense and ST in bad positions
3. A Special teams that grabs every yard and opportunity it can get for our Offense and Defense and doesn't put them in a bad position.
4. A coaching staff that knows how to get players to do the above
5. An owner, head coach and GM who knows how to create a culture of success.
And my one final thought about Doug Pederson. Many have complained about a lack of Offensive output. All of us know what talent we have with Bowe, Charles, DMc and others. But those guys went through turnover and bad quarterback play hell last year. As I mentioned before, job one needed to be "Take care of the Ball!" With success comes confidence and all the other benefits. Doug and Andy have been very smart in my opinion in keeping the training wheels on and not pushing things.
The collective memory of this team with ball carelessness could have ignited a storm of frustration had Doug and Andy not been as careful as they seem to have been up to this point. If I were a bettin man (that's funny, I am!) I would bet you will see the Offense start to open up a bit more each week. I know that's easy to say about the future, but I've seen little signs of it each week on the field. The trust is doled out a little more. I don't expect to see the playbook flung open and thus caution to the wind against those people from the oxygen deprived city. I do expect Andy, Doug, Bob and Dave to come up with a plan that has these elements.
Limit Mannings touches. Maximize our offensive efficiency. Limit our mistakes. Dive on every opportunity to succeed. I would (as I'm certain everyone else here would) like to see the Chiefs beat the Broncos in the thin air. But I'm more excited about the prospect of this teams complete turnaround to a culture of success. That is a subject the talking heads won't touch.