Double D’s Double Take: Chiefs 2010 DVOA Post Mortem


Now that the dust of the 2010 season has settled for the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s time to assess how much, if any, real progress the team made this year. It is easy to say the team did better than last year simply by virtue of final record, securing the division title and the benefit of a playoff appearance which that brings. I think we can also admit that at least part of the reason for this year’s apparent success is the result of a soft schedule and the flaws of our division rivals. The only question that remains is whether we made meaningful progress and are we showing signs of being able to build on our success? This week, we’ll see if DVOA analysis offers any big picture insights into how far the Chiefs have come and hopefully where they’re headed. We’ll get to all that just beyond the jump.

As always, for an more in-depth explanation of what DVOA is and what it is designed to do, please be sure to check in with Football Outsiders for the full run down. Now for the stats –

The rest of the story –

As you can see, I am comparing 2009 regular season final results with 2010 regular season final results. Including this season’s playoff results was avoided because, well, doing so would have been considerably more complicated for me because of how playoff results are reported (most notably, weighted DVOA instead of cumulative DVOA). Nor do I think doing so would have helped any on the “overall progress” front if you catch my drift.

The Chiefs, weak schedule notwithstanding, definitely showed some improvement in a number of key areas. The things that probably stand out the most to me are the improvement of the offensive line, the improvement of Matt Cassel, the improvement of Dwayne Bowe, and the impact of Tony Moeaki. However, it appears that part of the price of getting a good receiver and a good tight end perhaps came at the expense of going without multiple ranked players in each category. Better targets, but not as many viable ones overall.

I think we can also say that TJ was an improvement over LJ, but not by much.

Special Teams did not really improve which, big picture-wise is not a good sign. Scott Pioli prides himself in building teams through Special Teams and it appears that this season’s effort was not successful. There definitely needs to be a high emphasis placed on this during the offseason and I believe a good way to approach might be to draft at least a couple fast receiver types to block and/or get down field more quickly – in other words, kill two birds – improve speed on ST and build up our receiver corps. On top of that, I was not all that impressed with the consistency of either Arenas or McCluster as far return duties go – besides, it’s not a bad idea to freshen up the “churn in your return” each year.

Defense also made some good progress against the pass but we are still down a ways in the run defense category. The same goes for our front 7’s (and more specifically our front 3’s) ability to disrupt the passing game but again not so much with the run. I believe the addition of a real NT and an ILB with true pass rushing skills would produce immediate results.

Lastly, let’s take a final look at how the season rankings played out on week-to-week basis.

For all intents and purposes, we basically peaked around midseason and leveled off somewhere between declining and mediocre at the end. The declining part bothers me a lot and causes me to wonder whether this a pattern that will continue into next season? Is it a reflection of possible contentiousness among the coaching staff? A young team wearing out as the season wore on? Something more?

2011 looks to be pivotal year for Scott Pioli, Todd Haley and this team as a whole. Just as the final performance of 2009 appears to have been a positive sign for 2010, could the final performance(s) of 2010 similarly bode ill for 2011? If we start off poorly in 2011, we will possess what it takes to recover?

For 2010 I see some good, some good, and many concerns going forward.

That’s my Double Take. What are your takes Addicts?