Where are the Chiefs after two division losses on the road? Well, among other things, were the season to end today, Oakland would be in, Chiefs would be out. Things that make you go hmm.
For me, the questions that matter most right now are:
1. Were these two recent losses examples of what can happen to any team on any given Sunday, or indicative of bigger problems?
2. Are our players getting better, staying the same, or losing a step as this season progresses? In other words, are there tangible signs that Todd Haley and his staff are developing personnel and if so, who?
3. What are the areas of play and positions that most need to improve?
4. What is the likelihood that we can recover from these two losses and end up edging out the rest of the division down the stretch?
We’ll find out if the latest DVOA analysis provides any new insights to those questions beyond the jump.
As always, if you’re unfamiliar with Football Outsider’s DVOA methodology, go here. Now for the rankings:
I decided it might be visually beneficial to show improvements in green and declines in red. Lots of red showing; lots of mediocrity amongst all that red too. A mere two weeks ago the Chiefs were the NFL’s top ranked team in Total DVOA; now look at where we stand.
Even with the numbers he put up on Sunday, Cassel has not improved substantially – matter of fact, he’s probably not even in the top half of the league. We look to be a one trick pony – Jamaal Charles. Moreover, Thomas Jones presence in the backfield might reasonably be viewed as a detriment to our offense. The Chiefs appear to be, in almost every aspect, a team in free fall. Nothing appears to be getting fixed; few players, if any, are showing major signs of improvement.
Additional stats of interest:
Two weeks ago, we were the team statistically most likely to make the playoffs. Two weeks ago we were the AFC team most likely to be in the Super Bowl. Now . . . outside, looking in.
The Chiefs pass defense got exposed badly on Sunday. The table which follows suggests where the problems may lie. These numbers are not simply the result of the Denver game, they are cumulative for the season and they are telling. Long story short, we cover the #1 WR and that’s about where our pass coverage begins and ends. One might even be justified in arguing that the decision to snub Page, and, in effect, go all young with the secondary was perhaps ill-advised.
Two weeks ago, I was extremely optimistic about the Chiefs prospects this season. Now, I feel compelled to completely reconsider that position and admit that my optimism was probably premature, if not completely misplaced. Even though our schedule still bodes better for us than for the rest of the division, I simply do not see any reason to believe we possess what it will take to soldier through and win the division. Injuries kill us because we are s-o-o-o-o thin, two years in we’re still failing to develop talent at key positions, and on top of all that, a significant portion of our starters and/or regular rotation have little to no experience playing a full 16 game season. Please somebody explain to me how we’re supposed to overcome so many negatives to prevail in the games we need to win the division?
I’ll close with an excerpt of Football Outsiders Aaron Schatz’ observations concerning this precipitous decline of the Chiefs. I think he sums my team up pretty well.
The Chiefs have completely divebombed since I wrote two weeks ago that we needed to start taking them seriously as Super Bowl contenders. Perhaps they didn’t really want to be taken seriously as Super Bowl contenders. Well, your wish is now granted, guys. In two weeks, the Chiefs have dropped from first overall in DVOA to 15th. Their actual DVOA rating has dropped 23 percentage points. According to our playoff odds report, their chances of making the playoffs have dropped roughly in half, from 94.2 percent two weeks ago to 48.0 percent now. Their chances of winning the Super Bowl have plummeted from 13.1 percent to 1.0 percent.
-Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders
So there’s my Double Take. What’s your take, Addicts?