As good as the Kansas City Chiefs running game was last year, the team wasn't very great at converting third downs ranking 21st in the league with a 37 percent third down completion percentage. The league leading New Orleans Saints converted 49 percent of their third downs.
The Chiefs had 226 third down opportunities last year -- 59 rushing plays and 167 passing plays. On those 59 rushing plays, they converted 22 times and on those 167 passing plays, they converted 61 times.
On third and short -- one or two yards to go -- they converted just 50 percent of the time. (Oddly enough, they converted six of their seven fourth and short situations. What's up with third down?) The Chiefs ran the ball 22 times and passed it 21 times in those 43 third and short situations.
Considering the Chiefs were the league's top rushing attack, that's not a great third and short number.
The good news is that the preseason numbers, while a limited sample size, showed that they have improved their rushing on third and short. The Chiefs attempted seven third and shorts in the 2011 preseason and converted six of them.
Maybe the answer this year is Le'Ron McClain and Dexter McCluster. Those are the two new additions to the Chiefs backfield this year and I would guess they're going to be asked to be part of the solution on third downs. The Chiefs are usually pretty good at identifying a season-long problem and putting in a solution to fix it.
Let's hope they've done that with third down.