December 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath (84) celebrates with quarterback Alex Smith (11) and tight end Dominique Jones (46) against the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Chiefs DVOA Analysis: Week 15

AA - Double Take

Now that the Chiefs have secured a playoff spot, and regardless of whether they maintain the #5 seed or move past the Broncos into the #1 seed, the only question that really matters is whether they can do any damage against the rest of the AFC playoff contenders.  The only AFC playoff bound team the Chiefs have faced this year so far is the Broncos, twice, and we all know how those meetings went.

This Sunday the Chiefs will face another such team, the Indianapolis Colts. The match up this Sunday will hopefully provide some insight as to whether the Chiefs have come far enough along to beat an above average team.

After 15 weeks of play, it’s time to find out what the 2013 Chiefs are (statistically speaking) made of, courtesy Football Outsiders latest tabulations:

DVOA 15 - 2013 Table A

What the Chiefs excel at is Special Teams and this is a narrative that has been consistently, fairly the case, for most of the season. Special Teams excellence is, along with other considerations, a chief (Chief?) factor in dictating the critical battle of field position. It is also the crucible out of which great teams are built. The Seattle Seahawks teams of the past few years evolving into the team they are now are a testament to this fact.

Good coaches understand this. Andy Reid and Dave Toub also, apparently, get this. Special Teams excellence is about now and about tomorrow. It is where players add value in the moment and in development for the future. The Broncos (no thank you John Elway) and the Patriots (no thank you Scott Pioli) are not what the Chiefs should aspire to, the Seahawks (yes to Pete Carroll) are the model; the Seahawks are the team to beat and a team the Chiefs are wise to emulate.

Models of excellence and Special Teams aside, what else is going with the Chiefs?

Well, for starters, the Offense is finding its groove and winning games, not relying on the Defense to keep them in the game. This is not an attempt to let the Chiefs Defense off the hook for its shortcomings but just a statement of fact. Jamaal Charles is of course of the main story here but let’s also not overlook the contribution of the second most important weapon on the Chiefs offense, Sean McGrath. Yep.

More on the State of Chiefs Nation:

DVOA 15 - 2013 Table B

The Chiefs possess so much potential on Offense. Alex Smith has shown he can be better. Dwayne Bowe knows he can be better. Donnie Avery has it in him to be a difference maker. The Offensive Line is steadily improving but is also certainly capable of being better. Dexter McCluster (Special Teams excellence) knows he can be bigger factor on offense.

I spoke last week of why Junior Hemingway should play a bigger role in the Chiefs offensive production. It’s up to him, Alex Smith, and Andy Reid to make that happen.

The Chiefs Defense, contrary to popular opinion, is playing opportunistic ball. Though they are guilty of giving up big plays and ridiculous yardage lately, they are nevertheless helping win games. The stats, reasonably, suggest porousness but the turnovers are producing offensive opportunities and points.

The ongoing exposure of Marcus Cooper needs to stop. I don’t believe he needs help scheme-wise. Rather, it’s an issue of tenacity. Marcus Cooper needs to be on it and the Defensive Line needs to get it done.

No more 7 seconds in the pocket. No more getting beat over the top. It’s all about the snap of the ball and dismantling the play, not allowing it unfold. Anywhere!

Back to the story of the Chiefs story of success, I say it’s largely about who gets the ball where. When the Chiefs get the ball, they are first in the league in starting line of scrimmage, averaging the 33.42 yard marker. On Defense, they are second in the league, averaging the 22.80 yard line.

In effect, as a result of Special Teams play, and Defense, the Chiefs net, on average, more than a 10 yard advantage with starting field position. In other words, they are, on average, excused an extra set of downs every possession. Forget time of possession, starting field position is something that really matters because it means (believe me, I resisted the temptation to not spell this out) the Chiefs Offense typically has a shorter field to work with and the Chiefs opponents typically have farther to go. Simple math.

Don’t let up boys.

Oh yeah, back to the game on Sunday. I  believe this will be the first of successive tests leading into and continuing on into and through the playoffs.

The Colts are a dangerous team. Andrew Luck is the kind of quarterback with the potential to dismantle the Chiefs Defense and the Chiefs would be wise to be cognizant of that. Marcus Cooper will be tested repeatedly. The Chiefs Linebackers and Safeties will be tested against Donald Brown, the Colts best receiving option.

The Chiefs Defense also need to understand that T.Y. Hilton is playing better than any receiver on the Chiefs roster and that Andrew Luck, over the course of the season, is a better Quarterback than Alex Smith. The Colts Offensive Line is better at protecting their QB than the OL is at protecting theirs. All told, the Colts Offense parallel a formula that has resulted in the Chiefs 3 undoings this season.

So, the only question that remains is, now, and going forward, will the Chiefs rise to the occasion?

That’s my Double Take. What’s your take Addicts?


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Tags: DVOA Kansas City Chiefs

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    Nice job DD. I think the improvement in the offensive line has a lot to do with the opening up of the offense. What is your take on that?

    • DoubleD

      Yes, they are growing, becoming more and more comfortable with Andy Reid’s Offense and generally getting better.

  • micah stephenson

    The Alex Smith fans ain’t gon like those charts.

    • BWrangler

      Right on cue. AS11 just sucks. I despise him for this 11-3 season.

      • Deadmeat

        Damnit! We would be 14-0 with Geno and a first round bye!!! 11-3 sucks so bad…:(

  • Chris Tarrants

    I think that Reid will have Charles back to basics this week by running the rock, a lot. Any body remember the rediculis numbers we put up last year in Indy? We lost but our ground game was unstoppable. I’m going to geuss Charles hits 150 on the ground, 50 through the air and two td’s. also Mr. Davis will say hello to the Colts for the first time with 40 yards on the ground with a score on a goal to go situation. Pound it pound it pound it and control the clock is how we will win this game. A few key turnovers from our defense will also help

  • Joe Myers

    Man I think the chiefs are the most complete team in the west . The chieds will continue thier success into the playoffs . Sorry the defense is getting turnovers and we are scoring points of thos turnovers . Its going to come down to ball control and running the ball you guys know how the playoffs are!!!

  • BWrangler

    Gotta give a shout out to Fisher. He’s shown that his potential is unbounded. Once he gets past the rookie jitters, he’s going to be a special tackle in the NFL.

  • Jason Seibel

    Andy Luck is not better than Alex Smith. Only point I disagreed with.

    • DoubleD

      I’m basing this off of DVOA stats. Luck currently scores a 1.3% DVOA which ranks him 19th in the league, his DYAR ranks at 16th and his QBR is 61.6. Alex Smith owns a -1.5% DVOA which puts him at 22nd in the league, his DYAR ranks 19th and his QBR is 52.4.

      I’m not hating on Alex Smith, just stating numbers. I personally see him as a winner.

      • Jason Seibel

        I gotcha brother. And I see what you’re saying. But going outside the numbers I just think Smith is better. Great piece though. I always enjoy how you break these numbers down.

      • Alex

        Good points and a well written article DD. I think I side with Jason though. I actually like Football Outsiders and their stats, very innovative. Though, QBR sucks in my opinion. It’s interesting to look at their splits from the season.

        Through the first half of the season, Luck was playing extremely well with a 13:3 TD to Interception ratio, throwing for ~1800yds while still completing less than 60% of his passes. Smith had a 9:4 TD to Int ratio throwing for about the same yards and completion %. Looking at the 2nd half of the season, a clearer picture is painted. Luck has regressed to a 8:6 TD to Int ratio where as Smith has posted a 14:2 TD to Int ratio, 63% completion percentage and averaging a healthy 7yds per attempt, something luck has yet to do this year. While Luck started off the season playing great football, beating the broncos, 49ers and seahawks, Luck and his team have cooled off. Smith and Chiefs have caught fire at the perfect time, peaking just at the right moment leading into the playoffs. Personally, Smith is having the better season, but it ain’t leaps and bounds above what Luck has been doing.

        • DoubleD

          QBR is not FO’s stat & in a lot of ways I think, probably more meaningful to FF fans than anyone else. I just threw it out there because it was handy. I feel that Smith is different style of QB than Luck and probably the two things I like most about Smith’s style is that he takes care of the ball and that he wins.

          That said, Luck is still a pretty good QB with a good arm and a lot of upside potential. Luck’s biggest problems right now are protection or, rather, how to cope with a lack of it; the loss of Reggie Wayne also seems to have fatally crippled the Colts Offense. Protection of Alex Smith seems to be getting better the deeper we go into the season and I think that, in turn, is contributing to his better numbers in the second half split.