2011 Chiefs DVOA Post Mortem Vol 1: The Haley Years

This week I’ll try delving a bit into how much of an impact Todd Haley’s tenure as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs had in terms of developing and/or improving (or not) our favorite team. Better yet, think of it as mid-contract progress report on Scott Pioli, courtesy of Football Outsiders stats.

But first, an editorial observation and comment. In varying degrees, Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel have, of late, been soft selling the notion that Matt Cassel got us to the playoffs. I know this will probably sound a little crazy but for some reason, I’ve been operating under the belief that it was actually Jamaal Charles who got us there. Anyone care to dispute that?

Now if Clark Hunt is too cheap to pay Kyle Orton (who is an upgrade over Matt Cassel), to use if and until we acquire and develop our very own first-time-in-franchise-history franchise QB, fine so be it. Even so, is it too much to ask the Chiefs PR machine to please just stop insulting our intelligence with this whole “Matt Cassel can get us to the playoffs” nonsense? Matt Cassel is a guy who’s been lucky enough be around playoff teams. He most definitely is not the guy who takes his team to the playoffs. He’s just not. Sorry, but it is either ignorant or disingenuous to think or say otherwise.

Cue Kenny Rogers “Through the Years” aaaaand go . . .

Observation 1: Matt Cassel was the starting QB all three of those years.
Observation 2: Jamaal Charles served as the key contributor to the Chiefs offense in only one of those years.
Conclusion: Please tell me I don’t need to spell this out for you.

Further observations:
Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel joined the coaching staff for the 2010 season.
Charlie Weis departed towards the end of the 2010 season or was most likely relieved of play calling responsibilities sometime before his departure.

I am personally fond of the information found in this particular table and the next. The first item to note is that Kansas City has become, without question, a running team in what is popularly referred to as a passer’s league. In 2010, we led the league in total carries and in 2011, a year without Jamaal Charles, we were 2nd in total carries.

Riddle me this? Are we rushing the ball so much because Matt Cassel’s quarterback skills lend themselves particularly well to that aspect of the offensive game? I think we all know the answer to that question.

There are some other items on this table that I feel are also worth noting.

The first of these is that Jamaal Charles’ presence definitely improved our line’s efficiency with the run across the board. The next is for the past three years we have been particularly successful when running between the left guard and left tackle (left B gap) regardless of who carried the bal,l and we were also pretty good when running outside the left tackle. The one constant throughout on that left side is the oft-maligned Branden Albert. All you haters, just sayin’.

The second is that we have not been very efficient when running between the right guard and left tackle (right B gap) and not really very good either when running between the guards. Let’s just say I feel the oversung praises of Wiegmann and Lilja, aka the Diminutive Duo, are a bit overstated. Moving Lilja to left guard and replacing him with Asamoah at right guard in 2011 really did nothing to improve our interior line play. Common element you ask? Casey Wiegmann.

Another interesting thing that catches my eye here is that our efficiency when running outside the right tackle dropped off considerably from 2010 to 2011. Jamaal Charles’ ability to get quickly outside is certainly a factor to consider here but that does not really satisfactorily explain the on-going consistency, with or without Charles, that we see on the opposite side of the line, now does it? The process of elimination suggests to me that perhaps the injury to Moeaki had more effect on our offense than simply taking away a viable receiver. Remember again we were first and foremost a running offense in both 2010 and 2011.

The table above I feel helps illustrate how effective, or ineffective, the Chiefs have been at play calling when they ran the ball. In a nutshell, green tends to suggest where the Chiefs played to their strengths or avoided their weaknesses (see previous table for reference). Red tends to suggests just the opposite. For me one of the most bothersome aspects on this table, year in and year out, has been the on-going tendency to limit runs through the left B gap which is where we have consistently been the most successful (again, review previous table). It’s a clear example of the definition of insanity – that is, doing (or depending on one’s perspective, not doing) the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Now in all fairness, we dial way back on the right B gap which makes sense. What doesn’t make so much sense is not dialing way back on runs outside the RT or dialing back more on runs through the A gaps when those became obvious points of weakness in 2011. One has to wonder if Todd Haley’s rumored stubborness was a contributing reason for such play mismanagement? That and ever insisting that Thomas Jones should get more any carries.

That’s my Double Take.

What’s your take, Addicts?

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Tags: 2011 DVOA KC Chiefs

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