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Chiefs Focusing On Gaining, Not Losing, Yards

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Photo via David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star

File this headline under Captain Obvious...

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was asked about his team's rushing attack this afternoon in his session with the media.  The Chiefs, and Larry Johnson, have yet to record a rushing touchdown in the first quarter of the season.

"Right now, our number one (problem) putting everything else aside is we need to eliminate minus plays whether that’s a penalty, a minus yardage run or a sack," Haley said.  "We need to eliminate that. I guarantee and I’m looking for the stat right now but we’re probably last."

I've got the stat for LJ.  22 of his 72 attempts this season have gone for no gain or a loss.  For the record, that's a terrible statistic.  No, it's not all on LJ but it still helps illustrate where this team currently sits rushing the ball.

Last season, the Chiefs were a middle of the pack rushing team.  Of the 372 total rushes, 39 were for a loss or no gain, or about 10% of all rushes.  Through the first quarter of this season, LJ has been stuffed for no gain or a loss on nearly a third of his attempts.

As of last week (I haven't crunched the numbers this week), that pits LJ as the sixth worst back in rushing for no gain or a loss (Thanks to stagdsp for the original stat).

Wow. 

Yes, the Chiefs have played three top five defenses from last season in their first four games.  They're very good teams and all indications right are that the Chiefs are not.  But still...for me this is close to overtaking the third down conversion percentage as the worst statistic on this Chiefs team one quarter of the way through the season.  Awful.

Despite that, the Chiefs are doing some good things, particularly in special teams.

"We’re doing some good things," Haley said.  "We’re number one on punt, number one kickoff, net average punt we’re number one. There are some good things going on, but right now minus yardage plays ain’t one of them."

"When you have a minus yardage play in a drive your chances of getting a first down go down dramatically," Haley continued.

For the Chiefs, this is especially true.  They average a whopping 2.82 yards per carry on second down. Passing the ball isn't much better at 3.68 yards per attempt, by far their lowest pass attempt average on first through fourth down.

Part of the solution?

"So, forget running down in the Red Zone. Forget all that stuff and concentrate on minus yardage plays and eliminating those and those other things will take care of themselves. Period."

As simple as it is, this makes a lot of sense.  Concentrate on going forward, not backward.