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3 important statistics from the first quarter of the Chiefs’ season

On Monday’s Out of Structure podcast, we explained three notable statistics from the Chiefs’ season so far.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On the latest episode of the Arrowhead Pride Out of Structure podcast, we answered your Twitter questions about the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4.

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Many of you asked similar questions to what we’ve answered over the last few weeks: How do the Chiefs fix the defense? Why is Juan Thornhill not playing more? When will Chris Jones move back to defensive tackle?

We answered the few unique questions we got — but instead of talking over the same topics that we’ve discussed at length already, we decided to dive into the numbers. We went through many statistics from the Chiefs’ first four games — basically the first quarter of their season. We picked out three to detail here:

1) Chiefs have the highest yards per play rate on offense and defense

The Chiefs’ offense averages 6.9 yards per play, which is .3 yards more than the second-highest mark. That amount of separation is equal to the amount between the second-highest mark and the eighth-highest in the NFL.

On the flip side, the defense allows 6.9 yards per play, which is also .3 yards more than the second-highest mark.

The significance here starts with the defense — their inability to stop a team has led to long possessions, which minimizes the Chiefs’ offensive possessions; the Chiefs have the second-fewest drives in the NFL — only behind the Los Angeles Chargers, who haven’t played in Week 4 yet.

2) Chiefs’ offense has fourth-highest yards-per-carry rate in NFL

At 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, the Chiefs’ offense has become one of the most efficient ground games in the NFL. Most of the credit goes to the Chiefs’ offensive line: it has been dominant on run plays, creating huge holes for running backs in the past few weeks.

The Chiefs defense has been very good in short-yardage situations: It has a 100% “Power Success Rate,” a statistic from Football Outsiders that focuses on short-yard runs on third downs, fourth downs or goal-line scenarios.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire deserves credit, too. He has averaged 3.5 yards after contact per rush attempt over the last two weeks; that rate was just 1.4 yards in the two games prior.

3) The Chiefs’ defense has faced the third-fewest third-down attempts in NFL.

The most important takeaway from this statistic is that the defense is not succeeding enough on early downs. It’s constantly allowing offenses to gain chunks of yards on first and second down, which eliminates the opportunity to put them in pressure situations on third downs where they need to convert.

They’ve allowed 44% of third downs to convert, which is the 12th-highest rate in the NFL. Not awful — but the problem is that the Chiefs’ opponents are more willing than ever to go for it on fourth down. They’ve faced the most fourth-down attempts in the NFL and have allowed six of the eight to convert.

So even when they do force a third down, the opponent still has two more plays to gain the yardage. It makes late-down defense challenging, but the more times an offense is in those situations, the better. If they can play from first or second down all game, the offenses are much more comfortable, and the play-calling can be more aggressive.


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