When watching an NFL game, particularly one in which your favorite team is getting their asses kicked from Kansas City to Buffalo, it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what is going on. Emotions are involved for one, but moreover, there is simply too much happening for anyone to get an accurate idea of how each player is playing by just watching the game once. One bad play may stick out in your mind, causing you to declare that so-and-so had a terrible game. Often, quite the opposite is true.
That is where our friends at Pro Football Focus come in. Over at PFF, they watch every player on every snap of every game. They evaluate the players performance on each play and assign them a numerical grade from -2.0 (utter failure) to +2.0 (excellent play). The average, then, would be around 0.0. They then add and subtract all those scores to get a players true grade for the game and eventually, the season. They take into account things that traditional stats do not. For instance if Barry Richardson whiffs on a block, and Jamaal Charles gets hit int he backfield, Richardson, not Charles will get a poor grade for that play. On the stat sheet, Jamaal would be given a 4-yard loss on one carry.
The system is a bit complicated but suffice it to say, these guys have a better idea of how each player played than you do, even if you watched the game twice on DVR.
So let’s go inside the numbers with Pro Football Focus, Arrowhead Addict’s most trusted source for player evaluation.
Before we begin, if you aren’t familiar with the PFF evaluations, check this out.
Quick, who was KC’s best offensive player Sunday? Charles? McCluster? Breaston maybe?
Nope. It was Branden Albert.
A few astute AA readers noticed this and mentioned it in the comments yesterday. Take a bow, guys.
Branden Albert graded out at an overall +2.9. That is an excellent mark for the LT. He got most of those high marks for his pass blocking +2.2. He graded +0.4 in run blocking.
The other offensive lineman to grade well was Casey Wiegmann +1.9. He was +1.8 run blocking, which makes sense considering how long he has been in the zone blocking scheme. He graded -0.1 in pass blocking, which while it isn’t great, is a lot closer to average than say…
Jon Asamoah. The second year player was the second worst player on offense. He graded a -2.3 overall. Most of his trouble was run blocking with a -1.6 grade. His pass blocking was average at 0.0 though he did give up a sack. His other poor marks came because he was penalized once.
Barry Richardson was predictably bad, but not in the way you’d think. Usually Richardson struggles in pass blocking and excels in run blocking. Not Sunday. He was -2.1 blocking the run and actually +0.7 blocking the pass. He was responsible for two QB pressures and received an overall grade of -1.1.
Ryan Lilja was good against the pass (+1.5) and poor against the run (-1.6) for an overall of 0.2.
The up and down performances on the offensive line make the way the game went make more sense. One play they’d blow their run blocking assignments, the next someone would be bad against the pass. It explains why the Chiefs struggled to get a sustained drive going and why they didn’t appear to be able to do any one thing well.
The worst player on offense was WR Dwayne Bowe. He graded at -2.7 overall.
Other offensive players and notes:
Jamaal Charles: +0.1
Dexter McCluster: +2.0
Matt Cassel: +0.6
Jerheme Urban: -1.0
Steve Breaston: 0.0
Notes: Charles started. Le’Ron McClain played three snaps. Thomas Jones played three snaps. McCluster was in for 28 plays. Charles played 35 snaps. Looks like a real Charles, McCluster attack, which I can live with. The only successful drive of the game featured those two.
Ugh. Where to begin.
Here is who played well:
Derrick Johnson: +1.1
Tamba Hali: +1.3
Some people were saying yesterday that Hali played poorly. Those people are crazy town. Hali is one of KC’s best players. But remember, he isn’t a cover linebacker. He’s a pass-rushing specialist. Hali was called into coverage on eight of his 62 snaps. He graded out at +0.1 in that category.
While Tamba’s pass rushing wasn’t up to his usual ridiculous standards, he still played well. He had a sack, two pressures and three “stops” which are tackles that constitute an offensive failure. Usually Tamba gets boatloads of pressures but keep in mind that the secret is out on this guy. He’s good but teams are going to double-team him all season. They know he is the team’s only pass rusher. Romeo needs to find pressure from somewhere else. If Tamba’s taking up two guys, then someone else should damn well be beating their man.
Brandon Flowers: +2.1
Everyone will remember the TD Flowers gave up but that doesn’t mean he didn’t play well. Aside from the fact that his coverage was great and that Steve Johnson just made an incredible catch, Flowers had things pretty locked down.
Flowers was targeted seven times. He allowed three catches for 30-yards. 27 of those yards came on the TD catch by Johnson. Flowers allowed 4.3 yards per pass.
Javier Arenas: +1.8 (2 QB hits in pass rush)
Arenas played 34 snaps. 16 of those snaps, the Bills ran.Two snaps he rushed the passer. The other 16 snaps he was in coverage. His man was only targeted once. No catch.
Tyson Jackson: +1.0
In the preseason I noticed that T-Jax was doing a better job of shedding blockers while playing the run. He did again on Sunday, receiving a +1.4 run D grade from PFF. He had two tackles and two “stops.” He still can’t rush the QB though (-0.6).
Now for the bad…and there was oh, so much bad to go around.
Justin Houston: -3.2
Houston played 37 snaps. He struggled in all aspects of his game, particularly pass coverage (-1.9). Houston only rushed the QB three times.
Cameron Sheffield: -1.6
Sheffield and Houston were co-starters at LOLB. Sheffield struggled rushing the passer, grading out at -1.1 on his 13 attempts to get to the QB. He was a bit better against the run, getting credited for three “stops.”
Kelly Gregg: -2.1
More on Gregg later.
Glenn Dorsey: -1.3
Kendrick Lewis: -3.9 (worst defensive player)
Bad in pass coverage and run defense, Lewis had almost as many tackles (four) as missed tackles (three).
Sabby Piscitelli: -2.2
Other notable defensive players and notes:
Brandon Carr: +0.1
Wallace Gilberry: +1.0
Allen Bailey: +0.2
Jon McGraw: -0.5
The Chiefs defense seems to be running a lot of sub-packages.There were a number of different players that played a bunch of snaps. They also used a lot of sets with a bunch of DB’s. For instance, Derrick Johnson played 62 snaps at ILB. Jovan Belcher played only 37. The only other player to get snaps at ILB was Demorrio Williams, who came in for “mop up” duty with 11.
Players who did not start who played significant snaps include Wallace Gilberry (34) Jon McGraw (68) Sabby Piscitelli (38) Allen Bailey (27) and Amon Gordon who played 11 snaps at NT spelling Kelly Gregg.
The defense as a whole missed eight tackles. They had only two QB pressures (both from Hali) three QB hits (Arenas-2, Gilberry-1) and one QB sack (Hali). Given that information, it is remarkable that Flowers, Carr and Arenas played as well as they did. Those three are good enough to hang tough despite a lack of pass rush. Guys like McGraw, Piscitelli and Lewis are not.
Kelly Gregg was bad. According to PFF he got pushed around all game long, and when he finally beat his man he missed a tackle. It might have been a bad game but given his age, there is a chance Gregg could be toast. Of his 11 snaps, 10 of the plays at which Amon Gordon was in the game were runs. He graded at -0.1. The Chiefs might seriously want to consider playing him more and actually activating Jerrell Powe for next week’s game against the Lions.
The missed tackles on defense are likely a result of Todd Haley’s soft training camp. Tackling is a fundamental. The fact that the Chiefs are missing tackles tells me they just didn’t get enough work hitting and tackling. It explains why they just didn’t look ready to play full-speed football.
On offense the Chiefs are nothing if they can’t get their running game going. But how are they supposed to do that when three of their offensive lineman have negative run blocking grades? Charles and McCluster are good but they can’t do it all by themselves.
Poor blocking from the league’s number one rushing team in 2010? Blocking…contact…hitting. Again, I have to point the finger at Haley here. His soft camp and his delayed approach to getting his players into the action in the preseason is probably the main reason why the team is playing so poorly right now.
The lack of preparation, plus inexperienced players like Houston, Sheffield and Asamoah, plus injuries to guys like Berry, Moeaki and Baldwin have put the Chiefs in a hole that it may take them a while to dig out of. Oh yeah, and the poor pass rush.
A team can overcome maybe one of those problems. Maybe even two. But all four is just too much to ask. KC’s best hope is that the youngsters learn fast and that the team catches up somewhat from their poor preseason.
What do you think, Addicts? What has going inside the numbers taught you about the Chiefs?