The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the worst in the league last season at protecting the QB but now they are one of the best.
The best, in fact.
The next closest team to the Chiefs is the Colts. Peyton Manning, who is almost never sacked, has been brought down six times.
This morning I decided to take a look at just how much better the Chiefs were performing in the protection department. I compared Matt Cassel’s first five games of 2009 to his first five of 2010. The results were staggering.
In his first five games of 2009, Matt Cassel attempted 161 passes. He was sacked 14 times over that span. That means every 11.5 times Cassel dropped back to pass, he was sack.
In 2010, Cassel has been sacked just four times in 135 attempts. That is an average of once sack every 33.75 times he drops back.
What is even more remarkable is that one of the four sacks the Chiefs have given up was due to a Matt Cassel fumble and another cam on the last play of the game vs. the Texans in a desperation situation.
There are a lot of factors that have gone in to the Chiefs improved protection.
The offensive line is clearly playing better. The additions of Casey Weigman and Ryan Lilja have made a huge impact on the interior of KC’s line. That combined with an improved Branden Albert and the usual excellent play of Brian Waters has added stability to the left side.
That brings us to Barry Richardson. Richardson entered the season as Ryan O’Callaghan’s backup at right tackle. O’Callaghan was injured in the preseason and has still yet to be active for a game. Richardson has played very well in his stead. He was largely responsible for two of the Chiefs four sacks early in the season but has since settled down.
Another factor has to be the improved Chiefs running game. The Chiefs are getting more positive yardage on first and second down thanks to Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones and that is putting them in less third and long situations. That means when Matt Cassel does have to drop back on third down, he doesn’t have to wait as long for his receivers to run their routes.
Lastly, a lot of the credit has to go to Cassel himself. The Chiefs QB has been often criticized for holding on to the ball too long and taking too many sacks. This season, the Chiefs and Cassel have made it a priority to get the ball out fast and to avoid negative plays. There have been times this season where I thought maybe Cassel was getting rid of the ball a little too fast, often before the pressure really got to him. However, the reward has been fewer interceptions, fewer sacks and fewer fumbles so the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. Cassel should also adjust to this new rhythm as the season progresses and it will make him a much better QB.
What do you think Addicts? Is there one area that is more responsible for the Chiefs improved protection or is it a team effort?