As NFL training camps quickly approach we are wrapping up the speculation period of the NFL offseason. The Kansas City Chiefs have had an unexpectedly eventful past few months. It started with them trading up to take quarterback Patrick Mahomes and continued with the release of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Then there was the firing of general manager John Dorsey.
Over the past month I have written a few different pieces advocating for the Chiefs offense. I encouraged KC fans not to panic over Maclin’s release and, just last week, I argued against the Chiefs having one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Both of those posts referenced the impact that Maclin’s release would have on the team. We all have our personal beliefs on how big or little of an impact it will have, but I wanted some actual numbers to back up my beliefs. So I spent a LOT of time digging through the numbers last season to see just what we should expect on offense without Jeremy Maclin.
I should stop right now and warn you that this is going to be a number heavy piece. If that’s not your kind of thing please feel free to skip this one and come back next week. I won’t be offended. However, if you are a fellow stat head like me I think you might find what I uncovered interesting.
I went through the offensive numbers of every game that the Chiefs played last season. I looked at Jeremy Maclin’s snap counts, the overall production both when he played and when he did not and what kind of defenses the Chiefs faced both with and without Maclin. Basically I really went deep into the numbers on this one. I wanted to know how the Chiefs offense performed both with and without him this past season.
Before we get into the results I want to be up front about a decision I made when looking at the numbers. I decided to throw out the games against the Colts (where Maclin played) and Jaguars (where he only took two snaps) because Alex Smith was not the primary quarterback in those games. Nick Foles took over half the snaps versus Indy and played the entire game against the Jaguars. A different quarterback means different play calls, different preferences, etc. I felt it was best to compare how the offense performed with and without Jeremy Maclin only when Alex Smith was the quarterback. In my opinion that gives the best look at how Maclin’s presence effects the offense. When you change the quarterback too it adds too many variables and it becomes too hard to tell what was because of Maclin and what was because of Foles being in.
That leaves us with eleven games where Alex Smith was the quarterback and Jeremy Maclin played at least 76% of the offensive snaps and four games where Smith was the quarterback and Maclin did not play at all. Obviously that is an unbalanced sample size but its all we’ve got to work with. So let’s start by looking at the basic production of the offense with and without Maclin.