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Third Downs Will Once Again Be Key for the Chiefs

It''ll be important to note how well the Kansas City Chiefs do on third down this afternoon against the Oakland Raiders.  On both offense and defense the Chiefs have struggled on third down costing them points and games.

On offense, the Chiefs are dead last converting 22% of their third down opportunities.  Even the Raiders fair better converting 29%.

On Friday, former Chiefs lineman Bill Maas talked about the importance of giving yourself manageable third down situations.

"I remember as a defensive player," Maas told Chris and Cowboy on 610 Sports, "the one thing I hated as a defensive lineman, and I think the linebackers hated it even worse, was third and four or five or less.  It just killed you because they could get you with a run or they could play action you."

The Chiefs of course have routinely put themselves in third and long situations whether it be by penalty, lack of execution or playcalling.  Whatever it is, they're not putting themselves in enough manageable situations.  Maas explained what percentage should be expected for a good NFL offense.

"A good third down percentage for an offense is about 37%," he said. "Defensively, you want to be under that.  If you go by that MO right there you're always going to come out in a pretty good situation.  The real good teams are up around 45% on third down."

The Chiefs fail in both categories here.  As I said above, they convert 22% of the time on offense and allow first downs 42% on defense.  Also, there are seven teams that convert 45% or more of their third down opportunities - all of them playoff contenders.

The Chiefs have routinely put up miserable third down numbers which ultimately handicap the entire team.  It's not often that teams execute scoring drives without converting a third down.

The Chiefs offense should be trying to do to defenders what Maas felt teams do to him over 15 years ago.

"I hated third and three, third and four," he said. "I hated those downs. You couldn't wait to break the huddle when it's third and eight or more because I know what's coming."

More opportunities of third and less than five should be the goal today and, on defense, put themselves in third and long situations.