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Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates a tackle against the Carolina Panthers in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 27-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs-Jaguars: Who Had The Better Offseason?

When the Chiefs kick off the 2013 regular season this Sunday at the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s not just the Jags that the Chiefs will be facing.

I went over to Black & Teal, our superb sister site for the Jaguars. Over there, Jaguar fans have high hopes for Blaine Gabbert, the Jags’ much maligned starting quarterback, and excitement about rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz (a third round pick this year) and Denard Robinson, the quixotic quarterback from Michigan whom the Jaguars drafted in the fifth round this year. Of course, Jags’ fans are totally geeked on second overall pick Luke Joeckel, who will start at right tackle, and veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is back from a foot injury and by many accounts, is ready to roll.

Most football prognosticators are picking the Jaguars to be at or near the bottom of the league this year, alongside our good friends, the Oakland Raiders. So why all the optimism, aside from the usual preseason high that we all experience? Well, Addicts, first go to my colleague Nicholas Alan Clayton’s excellent analysis here and then understand that the Jaguars have a new coach in Gus Bradley, and Bradley has brought some thinking new to football – but not to baseball and basketball – to Jacksonville.

If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to check out a brilliant article about the Jaguars’ new approach, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Turf by ESPN The Magazine writer David Fleming. Fleming describes how Bradley and Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan are the newest recruits to the Moneyball method of analysis that has taken over many baseball and NBA teams. For example, the Jaguars’ new analytics department identified that when Gabbert has time to throw the ball in the pocket, he is actually one of the better quarterbacks in the league. That’s why the Jaguars went after Joeckel in the Draft, rather than finding a quarterback through free agency. They also determined that cornerback Gratz, based on a new metric they created for defensive backs – Passes Touched Per Target – could step in immediately and be an impact player. And they learned that Robinson, who is listed on the Jags’ roster simply as “Offensive Weapon,” had the third highest Speed Score equation of any player in the Draft. Robinson may play up to four positions: running back, wide receiver, return specialist and quarterback out of the Wildcat formation.

What does it all mean for the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday?

It means we should consider ourselves lucky that we’re playing Jacksonville in the first game of the season, and not the last.

Here’s why. You don’t need a bunch of numbers to tell you that the Jacksonville Jaguars are young and will need several games just to learn how to play cohesively. For example, the defensive backfield – an area where teamwork is paramount – will have two rookie starters in Gratz and second round pick, safety Jonathan Cyprien and new free agent cornerback Alan Ball. You also don’t need statistics to tell you that this team, like the Chiefs, won’t bounce back from a 2-14 record and become Super Bowl champs immediately, or that the absence of star wide receiver Justin Blackmon (suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy) will hurt. But despite all of these shortcomings, the Chiefs shouldn’t underestimate how the Jacksonville Jaguars look on the surface, because the Jags benefitted from serious data analysis to help inform their draft and free agency pickups. While it may take them a while to gel, this Jacksonville team will get better, and fast.

This game will give us a glimpse of which 2-14 team from last year rebuilt itself faster and better. Unfortunately for Jacksonville and fortunately for us Addicts, the Chiefs did. In virtually every position on the field, we have more talent than the Jaguars. On the coaching side, we’re about to see 100% of Head Coach Andy Reid’s playbook, 100% of Bob Sutton’s attacking defensive playbook and 100% of Special Teams guru Dave Toub’s playbook. To be specific, these five match-ups will win us the game:

  • Chiefs’ linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali vs. Jaguars’ tackles Luke Joeckel and Eugene Monroe. Tamba beats Monroe all day and Houston welcomes Joeckel to the NFL, Chiefs-style. That also means Gabbert is back to his mediocre self, with no pass protection.

  • Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson vs. Maurice Jones-Drew. If we get a draw here and contain Jones-Drew, the Chiefs will win.

  • Chiefs’ wide receiver Dwayne Bowe vs. Jaguars corners: No contest. As promising as Gratz may be, he’s a rookie against a talented and smart veteran.

  • Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry vs. Jags’ tight end Marcedes Lewis. Lewis is 6’6 and can run and catch. Let’s see if Berry has shored up his coverage skills after a spotty 2012 season.

  • Chiefs punt coverage unit vs. Jaguars’ rookie long snapper Carson Tinker: The Chiefs will block a punt in this game.

Addicts, the Jaguars will be tougher than we think, and they, like the Chiefs, are on the road to long-term success, built from the ground floor up with data. Addicts, what do you think about this data-driven approach?!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • calciomoti

    They should start by changing their uniforms and helmets so they don’t look like what they are…the laughing stock of the nfl.

  • Deaudrey Dre-Mac MacDonald

    Data analysis doesn’t win you football games if so we would go to PFF for every free agent and draft pick and even tho numbers don’t lie that won’t get you the W at the end of the day. I believe the Chiefs will win 28-13

    • Chiefswatch

      I Alex Smith is on his game Chiefs win 45-10.

  • unclejesse40

    So if the Jags start drafting 4-5 starters every year in the draft, they might just be on to something. I do like the analytic approach to practice scheduling the link mentioned as well as the other teams tendencies at certain points in a game.

  • Chiefswatch

    I went over to Black and Teal, where I further learned only Arrowhead Addict has any readers on this Fan Sided stuff. No wonder Patrick got the promotion.

    I really do not believe this game will be close and I am not being a homer at all. Jacksonville is just so terrible on paper they cant hope to keep anyone from scoring and its not likely they score much these early weeks.

    The only chance this game becomes competitive is if Alex Smith just sucks ass. If AS can’t throw a deep pass, cant be on target, relies too heavily on dump offs to Anthony Fasano then yes it will be close.

    If however AS is a 70% completion guy, spreading the ball around, not turning it over or getting a bunch of three and outs then no this game will not be close.

    I dont give a crap about Cecil Shorts. As good (and getting older) as MJD is, you are not running for a buck fifty on Poe and Derrick Johnson. That offensive line in Jacksonville will not stop Hali, Houston, and Poe no chance. Those DBs in Jacksonville are a work in progress, Bowe and Avery will have their way all day.
    Jamaal Charles will be free to do whatever he wants this game, it will be nasty.

    Face it, yes we don’t want to be homers and too optimistic. But seriously how can anyone have a straight face, say we are going to be a 8 to 10 win team and expect a competitive game in Jacksonville. If we struggle to beat this joke of a team, or holy hell lose to them. Look for us to win four games.

    Its all in gentlemen. And I am saying this first. Assuming AS is what Dorsey and fat Reid think he is. The Chiefs will run away with this game.

  • kcpauly

    I say 38-9 Chiefs crush the stupid looking Jags. not allowing them to score a TD. and them not being able to stop us from scoring. The numbers thing is a joke of a way to put a football team together. I would have us scoring more, except we will run the clock the whole 2nd. half, but Bowe will get a good jump on his league leading rec. & TD’s….or maybe I’m just a hopeless Homer, and we get beat?…..NOT!!!!
    Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kris Tian Lawrence

    Moneyball Jags lose 31 – 13. I like the article write up and can see a foreseeable future for Jacksonville, too bad it’ll likely be without MJD… maybe he ends up on a good team like the Packers or something before he’s out of gas. Do respect those one team legends though…