The Kansas City Chiefs’ Blueprint For Winning


The Kansas City Chiefs walked out of Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday with a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers. It was a win that put the Chiefs back in the AFC playoff picture. With their record now at an even 3-3 and the hardest stretch of their schedule now in the rearview mirror, the Chiefs have a chance to do what seemed impossible after a Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans, and that’s become one of the best teams in the AFC. As I looked over the box score of this latest win, it confirmed what I already firmly believed after watching the Chiefs play this season. There is one clear blueprint the Chiefs must follow to continue their winning ways and make the playoffs…

Get the ball to their playmakers.

This seems like a common-sense statement. I’ll admit that it’s not exactly earth-shattering news, but the results are SO clear cut that it boggles my mind that the Chiefs could ever deviate from this game plan. Let me clarify exactly what I mean by “get the football to their playmakers.” I believe that the Chiefs offense should be built around getting the ball in the hands of Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Travis Kelce, Knile Davis, and De’Anthony Thomas. Those are KC’s most talented offensive players. Those are the players who are most likely to make something special happen when they touch the football. When the Chiefs consistently get those players the ball, they win football games. When they don’t consistently get them the ball, they lose football games.

A common sentiment among Chiefs fans is that the key to KC winning is simply running the football. While I’ll 100-percent agree that the Chiefs are better when they establish a ground game, I believe there is more to it than that. Yes, numbers show that KC wins more games when they run the ball more, but that’s kind of a “chicken or the egg”-like correlation. Do the Chiefs win because they run more, or do they run more because they are winning? The answer, of course, is a combination of both. There will be times this season when KC has to be able to pass the football. It can’t all be based on running to win. The reason that running is so good for the Chiefs is because Jamaal Charles is their best playmaker, so handing him the football is the easiest way to get the ball to a playmaker. However, when KC finds itself playing from behind, facing a team that stuffs the run or trying to make a game-winning drive with a minute to play, “run the football” isn’t the objective anymore…

But “get the ball to the playmakers” is.

I went over the numbers from all six of KC’s games and looked at their total touches and number of touches for the five players listed above (Charles, Bowe, Kelce, Davis, DAT). Here is what I found:

In KC’s three losses, those five players only accounted for 60.5 percent of the Chiefs touches.

In KC’s three wins, those five players accounted for 77.3 percent of the Chiefs touches.

That difference right there is probably all you need to validate this game plan. However, as you dig a little deeper, the big picture really comes to light.

In KC’s three losses, those five players averaged 26 combined touches.

In KC’s three wins, those five players averaged 45.3 combined touches.

So while the increase in percentage of touches of 16.8 percent was significant, the touches-per-game increase of 19.3 is even more so. Think about it this way: In KC’s wins, Charles, Bowe, Kelce, Davis and DAT touch the ball almost 20 times more combined, than they do in KC’s losses. That’s HUGE.

Those increased touches lead to more first downs. Those first downs lead to more total plays. More total plays lead to controlling the time of possession. Controlling the time of possession limits the other team’s ability to score and keeps the defense fresh. This all builds off getting the ball to these playmakers.

The proof is in the pudding.

In KC’s three losses (where its playmakers touched the ball almost 20 fewer times per game), its average time of possession was 27:29.

In KC’s three wins (where it got its playmakers the ball), its average time of possession was 36:23.

I will argue that winning the time of possession by extending drives (via getting the ball to the best playmakers) has more to do with stopping opposing offenses than the play of KC’s defense. That’s not a knock on the Chiefs defense, but I don’t believe the defense has played as inconsistently as the offense has. Yes, the Chiefs have given up more yards and points in their loses than in their wins, but I would argue that’s because the opposing offenses had more chances.

In KC’s three losses, the defense gave up 5.7 yards per offensive play.

In KC’s three wins, the defense gave up 5.3 yards per offensive play.

So KC’s defense has been slightly better in its wins than in its loses, but those numbers aren’t as drastic as the difference on the offensive side of the ball. Andy Reid is an offensive genius, but sometimes he’s his own worst enemy. He’s worried that he’ll stop having success if he doesn’t come up with something new and unexpected. While there might be some validity to that, the old phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” also rings true here. If Reid wants to come up with new plays to throw off defenses, that’s fine. But come up with new plays to get the ball to those five players.

Anthony Fasano is a role player.

Donnie Avery is a role player.

Junior Hemingway is a role player.

AJ Jenkins is a role player (who should be used very, VERY sparingly, if at all).

If those players are racking up touches, the other team is going to be very happy. No defensive coordinator in the NFL is worried about Fasano or Jenkins beating them.

The “blueprint” is now a proven winner. It’s brought KC wins against three teams (two of them on the road) that are a combined 13-4 against the rest of the NFL. If KC sticks to this blueprint, there is no reason it can’t continue its winning ways. If it stick to this blueprint, there is no reason it can’t make the playoffs. If it sticks to this blueprint, there is no reason it can’t break its playoff-win drought.

Get the ball to the playmakers.

The playmakers pick up more first downs.

Those extended drives lead to the Chiefs controlling the time of possession.

Controlling the time of possession limits the other team’s offense.

When KC’s playmakers get more chances than the other team’s do, they win the football game.

It’s really as simple as that.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!