With the passing of yesterday’s Super Bowl, the 2011 season is now officially over and the offseason has begun. It won’t be long until free agency and the draft dominate every discussion that we have here at Arrowhead Addict. Before all the offseason hysteria sets in, I thought I would take a closer look at the last major move the Chiefs made before the start of free agency, that being the hiring of their new offensive coordinator, Brain Daboll.
Daboll’s hiring set off an immediate debate across the Chiefs Kingdom. Some people are livid that Scott Pioli once again went with someone with New England ties. Others are more upset about the production of Daboll’s offenses at his previous jobs. There are of course those that are taking a more positive outlook on the hiring. I think it’s safe to say that I would probably be lumped in with that last group. I will say this, I don’t think we have enough information on Brian Daboll to know for sure how good he is at his job. Go look at the offensive roster of the Cleveland Browns when he got there in 2009. It’s bad, really, REALLY bad. So the poor numbers in Cleveland could be that way because he was bad at his job or it could be that he just didn’t have any talent to work with.
That takes us to his job as the OC in Miami last season. Whether or not you believe Daboll can help the struggling KC offense probably comes down to how you view his results last season. The Dolphins ended up ranked 22nd in YPG with 317.4 and 20th in PPG with 20.6. No one can dispute the fact that the Dolphins over the entire year were in the bottom half of the league offensively. The real question is if you want to give the Dolphins credit for improving as the year went on. Daboll supporters like to point out how much better the offensive output was in the final nine games compared to the first seven. Others say that when you “cherry pick” what numbers to look at, you can make anyone look better than they are and that you should consider every game equally.
I can appreciate both sides of that argument. That having been said, I believe that there are reasonable circumstances that validate looking at the improved numbers as the season went on.
First off, as we all know, there was the lock out. Now, all teams had to deal with not having the regular full offseason program. However, I don’t think it’s biased to say that teams that were trying to install a new offense had a bigger disadvantage to overcome than teams that were keeping the same system. If last year had been even his second year there, I think you could question the validity of breaking the year up, but it seems reasonable to me to think that a team running a new system with no offseason might take several games to get in sync.
Second, the Dolphins lost starting QB Chad Henne to injury early in week four of the season. So the starting QB that Daboll had been putting most of his work into was lost and he had to turn to not only a new QB in Matt Moore, but a QB that was new to the team and hadn’t had much time to “gel” with his receivers. Now maybe a better OC could have gotten more out of the Dolphins in the first seven weeks. However, I don’t think it’s terribly unrealistic to think that any team would struggle to be highly efficient under those circumstances, especially since the Dolphins offense had been struggling for several seasons prior to last year and Daboll’s arrival.
So now let’s break down and really look at if and how this offense improved.
During the first seven games of the season, the Dolphins averaged 318.9 YPG and 15.3 PPG.
During their final nine games of the season they averaged 316.2 YPG and 24.7 PPG.
So the YPG stayed about the same, but they increased their PPG by 9.4.
Probably the first thing to do with this information is check to see how the defenses that the Dolphins faced in the first seven games compare to the defenses they faced in the final nine games.
Average Opponents Yards and Points Per Game Allowed:
First seven games: 346.0 and 22.0
Final nine games: 354.9 and 23.5
So the defenses that they faced in the second half were worse in both yards and scoring. First, let’s talk about the yards. In both the first half and second half of the season, the Dolphins were well below the average yards allowed by their opponents. So it would be fair to criticize Daboll for the yardage outputs of his Dolphins offense last season. At first I was surprised by the yardage numbers for the second half of the season. When compared to the average yards allowed by their opponents, the Dolphins yardage output was actually worse in the second half of the season. There is only one justification for this that I can think of. The Dolphins were 0-7 in those first seven games, including four double-digit loses. In those games the Dolphins might have been able to rack up meaningless yards late in the game against prevent defenses. In comparison, the Dolphins went 6-3 in the second half with only one of those loses coming by more than three points. Therefore, in many of these games the Dolphins would have been running out the clock instead of racking up yards trying to play catch up. Take that for what it’s worth. The yards production is still clearly the area where it is fair to criticize Daboll.
Now let’s look at the points scored. An increase of 9.4 PPG is significant. However, how much of that was due to the defenses they faced? Well according to the averages, the defenses in the second half allowed 1.5 more PPG. So even if you account for that difference, the Dolphins went from scoring 6.7 PPG BELOW the average allowed to 1.2 PPG ABOVE the average allowed. That is an improvement of 7.9 PPG compared to the averages that the defenses allowed. That is still a drastic improvement. I don’t see how anyone can make an argument that Dolphins weren’t clearly a better offense at the end of his first year there compared to the beginning of the year.
So can Daboll help KC’s offense? That’s the real question. Last season KC averaged 310.8 YPG and 13.2 PPG. So the yardage output was not significantly different then Miami, KC just scored a LOT less points. The good news for KC fans is that the PPG is exactly what Daboll was able to improve in Miami once the team got comfortable with his system. Daboll’s offense in Miami was never highly prolific in terms of yards, but as the season went on they clearly got more efficient at getting points out of their drives. Wouldn’t that have been one of your top complaints about the KC offense last season? How many times did a promising drive stall out? I would say that is a very valid reason to be optimistic about the Daboll hire.
The other reason for hope involves what Daboll was able to do last season with Matt Moore. Prior to last season, these were Moore’s career numbers:
57.9% completion percentage, 6.7 YPA, and a 16-17 TD to INT ratio.
Last season in Miami, Moore finished with these numbers:
60.5% completion percentage, 7.2 YPA, and a 16-9 TD to INT ratio.
If you use the same dividing line (the week nine KC game) to look at his stats, it’s even more impressive. In the first four games he played (on a new team and in a new system) these were his numbers:
59.1% completion percentage, 6.1 YPA, and a 1-4 TD to INT ratio.
Then from week nine on, his totals looked like this:
61.2% completion percentage, 7.7 YPA, and a 15-5 TD to INT ratio.
So after just four games playing in Daboll’s system, Moore put up as good or better statistics than Matt Cassel did in his 2010 Pro Bowl year. That’s encouraging considering that Cassel’s career numbers look a lot like Matt Moore’s before he came to Miami (just with a much better TD to INT ratio).
59.0% completion percentage, 6.6 YPA, and a 76-45 TD to INT ratio.
So isn’t it reasonable to believe that Daboll should be able to get similar results out of Cassel? I mean look at Moore’s top six offensive weapons from last season.
Then compare that to what Cassel might have to work with next season.
I like KC’s group better if Charles comes back full strength.
“But Lyle, KC’s offensive line is horrible when compared to the Dolphins’!” one might be thinking.
Really? Last season the Dolphins averaged 4.2 YPC in the run game compared to 3.9 for KC (keep in mind, that was without Charles). Last season the Dolphins allowed 52 sacks and 95 QB hits compared to only 34 sacks and 74 QB hits for KC. So statistically the Chiefs (even with Barry Richardson) were better at pass protection then Miami. If KC just upgrades a little over Richardson at RT there is absolutely no reason that Daboll shouldn’t be able to put up similar numbers (or hopefully better) than he was able to with Miami’s offensive line.
In case you’re thinking that maybe it wasn’t Daboll, that maybe Matt Moore is just a better QB than what people give him credit for, let’s look at Colt McCoy. After McCoy’s rookie year working under Daboll, the Browns seemed willing to move forward with McCoy at QB. Now, one year later, the Browns are one of the top teams people think will make a major push to land RG3 and move on from McCoy. Here is a comparison of McCoy’s numbers in his rookie year with Daboll and then last year.
Rookie year w/ Daboll: 60.8% completion percentage, 7.1 YPA, and a 6-9 TD to INT ratio.
Second year w/o Daboll: 57.2% completion percentage, 5.9 YPA, and a 14-11 TD to INT ratio.
Now, to McCoy’s credit, he did improve his TD to INT ratio. However, what sticks out to me the most is that his YPA went from a respectable 7.1 down to a horrible 5.9. Despite the fact that McCoy wasn’t throwing the ball down the field as much his completion percentage still went down as well. That’s a problem for the Browns. It also supports what Daboll was able to do with Matt Moore, improve BOTH his YPA and completion percentage. So both of the QBs that Daboll worked with as OC the past 2 seasons completed a higher percentage of passes while throwing the ball down the field for more yards. These are good signs for Matt Cassel and therefore Chiefs fans as well.
Now I’ve been accused of being a “homer” on more then one occasion. So I’d really like to hear some feedback on this post. Am I just putting a positive spin on this hire or are there legitimate reasons to think Brian Daboll can help the Chiefs offense? I am by no means positive that Brian Daboll will be a great OC for the Chiefs, but after looking at these numbers, I at least have hope. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!