Looking at first down tendencies for the Kansas City Chiefs offense

Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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A closer look at the high-octane offense of the Chiefs on first downs.

The NFL offseason is a perfect time to take a closer look at the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs. The Super Bowl champions are returning a large portion of their roster and have taken up the mantra of “Run it back”. There is good reason to believe they will try to recapture the magic of their Super Bowl season. So looking at how they approached the 2019 season could give a glimpse into what they plan to do this coming season.

The offensive play calling is often a subject of debate with the fans. Are the Chiefs aggressive enough early in the game? Are they not aggressive enough when they have a lead? Are they running the ball too much? Are they not running the ball enough? A team’s play calling on first down says a lot about their mindset and often sets the tone for a drive.

I decided to go back through the entire 2019 season, including the playoffs, and look at all their first down plays. I recorded if it was a run or pass play, how many yards it went for, what quarter it was, and what the score was at the time to see if I could discover any patterns.

Some of the information was predictable and some was surprising. I’ll confess, the Chiefs drafting Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the NFL draft made me curious to see these numbers as well. I’m wondering if he will have an effect on these numbers in the coming year. Will the Chiefs run more on first down with him? Will the number of runs stay similar but perhaps be more productive? It will be interesting to see how next year’s numbers might compare and if his value will be evident from the numbers.

Before we get started, here are a couple of clarifications on how I came up with these numbers. When logging plays, I counted sacks and scrambles both as passing plays. The point here is what plays Andy Reid was calling on first down and even if a scramble goes towards rushing totals, the play call was a pass. Second, I didn’t count plays where a penalty caused them to replay first down. In those situations I just logged the play that happened when they replayed the down even if it changed the play call. Finally, I didn’t count kneel downs at the end of the half or game in these numbers.

I’ve got the information I’ve found broken into four sections. The first is the basic overall numbers. The second is a break down by halves and quarters. The third is a breakdown by game score and the final one is a look at how the numbers looked when Matt Moore filled in during Patrick Mahomes injury.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at the overall numbers.